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The Bards Tale IV: Barrows Deep

Hidden in the shadows, an evil has waited patiently. Until now. Who will face the darkness if not you? A heroic adventure featuring 40+ hours of gameplay, 350 speaking parts, a Legacy Mode for returning fans, and over 100 pieces of incredible music! Customize How You Play Define the way you play, using sliders on numerous options such as saving (including “save anywhere”), the mini-map, waypoint markers and many more. Whether you seek a hardcore challenge, a lighter experience, or something in-between, the choice is yours. Create the Hero You Want To Be Play as Bard, Fighter, Practitioner, and Rogue, each featuring 60-70 skills and collectively unlocking 21 unique classes. Build an array of characters to make every playthrough a unique experience. Craft your Party, Your Way Start your party with a single character, recruiting or creating new heroes to bolster your ranks. Build a party that suits your play style!
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

It takes a special kind of special to...
- make an RPG with illegible fonts, so that you cannot know what you carry or what your skills do;
- connect the GUI music to the SFX volume option instead of the music volume option;
- limit character creation to male, yet provide female voices for him;
- insert a cutscene between a Load click and the actual loading;
- force the player to leave the game and go online to solve certain puzzles (with a code wheel.)
InXile also recruited into normal levels of special in order to...
- offer meta-gaming choices without explaining the mechanics;
- make an RPG with 1 saving slot only, to ensure that you cannot replay your favourite moments later;
- make you collect tons of junk into a lacking inventory grid, then make you craft and cook;
In the interest of balance, they also recruited coding novices. Which is why, after years of corrections, you will temporarily get stuck on the terrain, experience crashes, and walk between 2 teleporters in less time that the teleportation would take.
Highly recommended.
Wait, what?
Yes, you read correctly. It's a great game, although one of the most flaw-ridden great games I know, maybe the one that gave the worst first impressions.
Weighing early in the balance is the Scottish-inspired setting, its presentation, its atmosphere, its visual storytelling.
Soon enough, it's the sound that takes centre stage. The sound is brilliant. We've gotten used to background chatter, here we also get people singing at their labour. The music becomes spectacular, particularly in the countryside/forest maps, which I would revisit for the singing alone.
The Bard's Tale... They really did the title justice.
Next come the puzzles.
I liked them right away, based on their mechanics alone, and they kept getting better and better.
And there is a ton of them, in all shapes and forms.
If you don't like puzzles, stay away from this game.
The puzzles along the main quest are mostly child's play. The optional ones can become much harder, and don't necessarily bring high reward. Sometimes they do, but remember that solving the puzzle is meant to be the actual goal and pleasure. Sometimes the first difficulty is to notice that there is a puzzle to solve, and that you are looking at a clue.
Then the combat.
Although the mechanics are quite counter-intuitive, and very poorly explained in game, they end up working surprisingly well, with a lot of tactical variability. The kind of variability that lets you play the combinations you enjoy the most, rather than combinations mandated by specific opponents.
The visual format, simple interface, mobs design, sound effects, music, animations, all contribute to make the fights just... fun.
With a handful of exceptions, they are also very short, which cancels the main drawback of a turn-based system.
By the way, sneaky rogues will not only grant you initiative, they'll let you skip confrontations entirely when you don't feel ready.
What of the flaws then?
Most of them are silly but not game-breaking, as you can guess.
Tiny texts are more of a problem, but luckily they are confined to skills and equipment, things you can read once and remember. I just had to keep my telescope close-by for the occasional unique item.
Bigger issue: extreme loading times. They occur also on location changes. Even on teleportation, which means the code reloads the entire map when you don't change map. Baffling. Definitely taxing. It doesn't motivate exploration. It will be unbearable to some of you. Alt-tabbing to wait it out isn't that great a workaround because of memory leaks, leading to stutter, and eventually to a system freeze.
One more thing: You can save anywhere (otherwise the game would earn a thumb down and a refund.) Only, you'll first have to find the option and check the box, because the game defaults to being an arse.
Long story short, inXile took risks with this title, and although not everything works for the best, the sum feels fresh, creative and addictingly entertaining.

Review from Steam

I want to make a positive review solely because of astonishing portray of celtic culture in a different world. To the point where your bard yells "Sláinte!" when drinking in combat, let alone folk music and celtic knots depicted in various places. Celtic culture is a dear part of my life, hence it's impact on me here is huge. Don't get me wrong, this game's strong side is not just it, it's also the combat system. It's unique for this genre of games and unique in a very good way. If you're fan of everything celtic, these two points can carry you to the end.
But alas, strong points of this game are ending here. It's quite buggy (there're no bugs that prevent you from finishing the game, but some of them weren't fixed since the release) and unoptimized, 'cause graphics aren't top level, but on my okayish rig I saw constant freezes and fps rarely was above 50.
In short, it's very niche, but for some people sure can be a great time. For me it was quite an enjoyable expirience. I'd recommend to buy this game on sale, if it will ever be in the store again (for now the game doesn't show up in Steam store search by request of a publisher)