Analysis of The Bard’s Tale IV: Director’s Cut, a classic-scented dungeon crawler

Written by Kamran Haider

Paste a good drink of beer and sing your best song in the new RPG the authors of Wasteland, who have successfully recovered one of the most emblematic role sagas in history. Turn-based fighting, puzzles and lots of retro-style exploration await you in this great PC and console video game. Analysis of The Bard’s Tale IV: Director’s Cut.

Beyond the spectacular of his fights or the ingenious design of his puzzles, if I like something about The Bard’s Tale IV – Director’s Cut is his ability to get excited with the simple idea of ​​exploring ancient ruins, a necromancer’s lair or A sorcerer’s tower full of deadly traps. It is like entering a new world. And although you know that at any moment you can fall dead, that the next step may be the last; you give it, without thinking, because deep down you want with all your soul to discover what dark secrets are hidden in the place. No matter the hours of play you carry behind your back. It is a sensation that does not disappear at any time, and this is the great triumph of an RPG that does the impossible to continually surprise.

The new work of the authors of Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera is a great tribute to the classic dungeon crawler; to all those first-person role-playing games in which it was so important to kill enemies in turn-based battles, such as exploring conscientiously scenarios full of traps, yes, but also incredible treasures. The Bard’s Tale IV reaches a perfect balance thanks to a great level design that stands out for the presence of abundant secret areas and alternative paths that present their own challenges. It matters little that they side missions or simple additional challenges. The team of inXile Entertainment has taken care of even the smallest detail so that either saving the world or helping a poor wretch, the desire to want to continue exploring never disappears. The construction of this fantasy world is another great achievement of those responsible because it perfectly combines the classic essence of the genre with somewhat more innovative elements and a simply spectacular packaging.

A toast to the great heroes

There is something surprising in The Bard’s Tale IV and it is the feeling of freedom … this being a game with linear scenarios, much like the great classics of the genre. There are lots of hallways, of course, but they are perfectly camouflaged in locations where, wherever you look, you will always find something interesting to direct your attention to. Do not be fooled by the initial measures of the adventure. Skara Brae is not the prettiest place, nor the most interesting, but once you get into the real dungeons you will not want to do anything other than lose yourself in this genuine fantasy universe to live great adventures. This contributes to the good design of the many puzzles you will find during the game. It is not a small thing.

The puzzles are an essential part of The Bard’s Tale IV. There are lots of them, throughout the adventure, so you will constantly have to sharpen the ingenuity to overcome many of these obstacles. Some of the puzzles require that you pay attention to the texts and documents that you will find during the trip, with subtle clues that will be vital to decipher some puzzles, while others are directly presented as convoluted riddles that will make you jump with joy when you find the correct answer. There are also based on directing rays of energy, moving blocks of stone or even guiding fairies using elements of the stage.

During the nearly 40 hours that it can take you to complete the adventure, you will not stop solving riddles of the style, which can become somewhat tiring at specific moments of the game when many of these puzzles are repeated with too much assiduity. Something similar I felt with the fighting. They are great; pure emotion thanks to the enormous strategic value of our actions, limited to a few action points shared by the whole group. So every decision counts; Each movement can be decisive when it comes to victory or the cruelest of defeats. That’s why you enjoy so much of the turn-based fighting from The Bard’s Tale IV. It may seem that the action is limited in excess but nothing is further from reality.great heroes

The Bard’s Tale IV does the impossible to continually surprise

On a 4×4 grid, you will have to think carefully about each of your actions. How will you distribute to the heroes? Who will hit first? And who will it attack? Sometimes, rather than hitting, you will have to find a way to protect yourself; change the position of the heroes, or activate certain special abilities that increase their resistance. Again and again, you will face enemies that are more or less powerful, more or less fearsome, will kill you if you are not careful. And that sense of danger, the fear of being defeated, helps to make the fight even more exciting.

I have overcome battles that seemed impossible thanks to ingenuity and strategy, which obviously will make you vibrate with pure emotion at the epic of such a feat. And the best thing is that there are options to get bored when creating your group of adventurers. Although there are only four hero archetypes at the outset, you can develop their skills so that two warriors, for example, play very different roles on the battlefield. The customization options are quite generous and the good news is that this new edition of The Bard’s Tale IV allows, unlike the original, to restructure a hero’s ability points to change his way of fighting. The pity is that in some ways the inXile game, I now study owned by Microsoft, it does feel somewhat limited. I refer above all to the use of potions.

They are an object that you must equip occupying the space of trinkets, which are items with the ability to improve combat statistics. I understand that it is a strategic decision; subtract advantages to a character to give him the ability to heal his own, but this can sometimes create the most compromised situations if it happens that the only hero equipped with potions dies. Having also an important variety of potions with beneficial effects for the team, it would have been great to be able to consume them freely, using action points, during the course of the battle. Leaving this aside and considering that they are a figure present in the saga’s own name, it’s time to talk about the bards; A really funny hero class.

As in other role-playing adventures, bards learn songs to either support their own or crush rivals with various negative effects. The funny thing is that to sing they need to drink alcohol and, of course, excess alcohol causes drunkenness. So you must find the balance to have that special “magic”, necessary to sing, without going out of line to avoid being grogui for some shifts. Nor would anything happen since sometimes a good drunkenness can help you deal with risky situations since the bard will increase your fighting strength incredibly. To enhance their skills you can manufacture various alcoholic beverages, in addition to using a varied repertoire of musical instruments that will improve very specific skills of the hero. In this sense, the Director’s Cut of The Bard’s Tale 4 is expanded with new weapons and special equipment for all adventurers.

After the many problems that the original video game had in its premiere on PC, almost a year ago, inXile’s effort to improve what was already in its essence was a great RPG is appreciated. There are changes in the user interface and inventory management, in addition to correcting many mistakes that hindered or even prevented the progression in the original adventure. However, the most noticeable change is in the game’s own performance, which has reduced loading times between zones and works much better overall. This has had consequences because although some visual effects have been improved, The Bard’s Tale IV has also reduced the graphic quality of others. Before the complaints of the fans, the team led by Brian Fargo has already advanced that they will launch different updates that will improve the graphics, but in the case of consoles, I doubt that it will happen. At this point, the Xbox One X version works quite well, but as in PC, when accessing the inventory the game slows down slightly, which is annoying at some times.

Few games enhance exploration in this way, let alone combine the action and puzzles with such success.

Despite the sacrifices made, the game still looks spectacular. I loved the design of the stages and the beauty of many of its locations, with a variety of dungeons that look great mostly. During the battles, you will also enjoy an authentic spectacle of light and color, with some very lively enemies that surprise by their interactions with the player and their frightening – and also fun – way of dying. Although the design of some characters does not end up being at the height of the stages, few hits can be put on it. The same goes for its great sound section. The Bard’s Tale IV has a soundtrack of enormous quality that surprises by the liveliness of many of his Celtic-style songs, performed among others by Julie Fowlis, whom we already heard in Pixar’s Brave movie.

Wherever you go you will listen to the inhabitants of this fantasy universe sing and hum music with great joy, which somehow encourages you to want to continue exploring the world of The Bard’s Tale, which thanks to details like this feels very alive. As for the story, presented with texts in Spanish, inXile re-signs a remarkable work. The argument is followed with great interest and although there are times when the main plot is lost between numerous battles and puzzles, when it gains prominence it surprises with how well it combines humor with more catastrophic and dark themes. A hallmark of Brian Fargo and his team, who re-sign some fun and very human dialogues that help the player get fully into the action.

I think it shows that I really enjoyed the long trip proposed by The Bard’s Tale IV. Losing myself in their fantasy world and discovering the dark secrets that are hidden behind many of their dungeons has seemed an exciting experience. Few games enhance exploration in this way, let alone combine action and puzzles with such success. Sometimes this balance is broken and the fight becomes somewhat repetitive, but in general, we are facing one of the best recent crawler dungeons, and it is worth considering that in recent years the genre has lived a new golden age. Are you interested If you are subscribed to Xbox Game Pass you can play it right now, which is great?

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Get lost in dark dungeons, survive their deadly traps, and emerge victorious with a great story to tell our friends. This is the greatness of the dungeon crawler, and it is something that The Bard’s Tale IV understands perfectly. With a great variety of puzzles and some most exciting turn-based battles, the new inXile Entertainment RPG has everything you need to please the most veteran, and also those who take their first steps in the genre. Sometimes his action is somewhat repetitive and he feels somewhat limited in certain aspects, but as a role-playing experience, it is a trip worth living.

  • The design of the game world and how exciting it is to explore
  • Wide variety of dungeons with lots of puzzles inside
  • Turn battles are spectacular and very exciting
  • Sometimes battles or a certain type of puzzle are abused, and the action becomes repetitive
  • Despite the improvements, there are still bugs that hinder the full enjoyment of the game
  • Difficulty calibrated difficulty peaks even during the main missions

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Kamran Haider

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