About This Game
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 PlayDefine 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 BePlay 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 WayStart your party with a single character, recruiting or creating new heroes to bolster your ranks. Build a party that suits your play style!
An Adventure Around Every CornerExplore towns full of quest givers, fight your way through dark and deadly dungeons, and navigate beautiful rolling hills, dense forests, and icy wastes.
Outsmart EvilBattle your enemies in dynamic, intuitive turn-based tactical combat,that rewards clever thinking. Use superior strategies, thoughtful positioning, and deadly combos to bring down your foes!
Unlock the Secrets of the PastUnravel challenging mysteries. If your enemies don’t get you, the devious riddles and dangerous traps just might.
The Blade’s TaleThe sense of discovery and mystery doesn’t stop with the environment. Gain ancient Elven weapons containing secrets which you’ll need to uncover by carefully examining them.
- Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
- OS: Windows 7/8/8.1/10 (64 bit)
- Processor: Intel Core i5-2500K (4 * 3300) or equivalent
- Memory: 8 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 (2048 MB) or Radeon HD 7970 (3072 MB)
- Storage: 55 GB available space
 The.Bards.Tale.IV.Barrows.Deep-Repack.Torrent [www.sendspace.com]
The game contains some nice and unique elements which distinguish it from others.
One example are puzzle weapons in which you have to solve puzzles on weapons in order to unlock their potential.
Another is the ‘offering’ places which require the use of a codewheel to align star systems in order to determine what to sacrifice.
The game even comes with a printable codewheel which was a very nice touch.
The combat system was for me the high note of the game.
A turn-based grid system with lots of interactions between different skills/weapons etc.
This is not your regular RPG with some puzzles in it, but more like a puzzle game with RPG elements. Initially I was thinking ‘these puzzles keep me from the game’ until I realised the puzzles ‘are’ the game.
While in itself the puzzles are quite fun and do-able it’s the sheer amount and repitition which turns it into a sludge. Especially in the later parts the puzzles just stretch the game for no good reason. Where other games come with unique puzzles as you progress, this one just recycles the same puzzle types over and over (for example moving blocks, playing with light beams, cogwheel puzzles, etc).
After the x-th same puzzle type pops up it’s like ‘*sigh* not this again …’
Combine the above with a lot of backtracking and revisiting of previous levels and it becomes a chore.
When I was roughly halfway the game I had seen and done everything, obtained the best gear etc. The rest of the game was just the same backtracking, same puzzles repeated, same enemies etc.
In total it took me 60hrs to beat the game on normal where probably more than half the time was ‘wasted’ doing the above. This also means that for roughly half of the game you find useless items, even when defeating bosses since your current gear is already better.
Difficulty-wise I played the game on normal and have to say this was a bit too easy. Nearly all fights (with 6 characters) ended in 1-2 turns, only some bosses provided more challenge. Especially when you start understanding the skill trees and how things interact it becomes quite easy. As an example, the game comes with an ‘overachieving’ achievement which seems to indicate obtaining a high level, however I unlocked this already mid-game with no effort, so getting experience is really easy.
By the end of the game I had nearly full skill trees on all my characters up to a point that I had to spent skillpoints in unneeded skills.
The world itself doesn’t feel living at all. Most NPC’s just look the same and are just standing there, repeating the same dialog over and over. Also the fact that you can’t jump or go down a ledge makes for a very linear/confined feel. There is no sense of freedom.
The main story-arc is not so bad, I also believe they added a ‘best off’ of all the bosses of previous Bard’s Tale games.
However the issue is in the way it’s presented: In essence it’s ‘Do puzzles to reach item X, then do puzzles to reach boss Y’, now rince and repeat for each level.
One thing which does stand out in the story is the music and voice acting.
The voice acting is of a very high level, truly excellent!
The music is really nice, with unique Gaelic songs, marvelous!
My only gripe here is that most of the time it’s a short piece which is played in a loop.
In most cases it’s ok, but sometimes it can get on your nerves. Especially when looking into a vendor’s stall and hearing the same short piece repeated over and over is a bit too much.
Another nice touch related to sound and voice was the fact that, when loading a game, a bard recounts the tale so far.
As a final point some remarks on quality-of-life items:
The inventory can’t be sorted which makes for a mess especially late game. I also had the feeling the game became sluggish when there were a lot of items in the inventory.
The map doesn’t allow for notations (which would be handy for puzzles) and unfortunately rotates. This can be a personal preference but I like the North to remain upwards always. Again especially for some of the puzzles this made it more difficult than needed.
The save system is quite interesting i.e. you can only save in certain points or choose to convert those save points into bonus XP.
Overall I felt there were sufficient save points, yet my gripe with this system is the occasional crash.
Over the course of the game I had 2 crashes which caused me to redo parts from my last savepoint. This would never happen with a standard quicksave feature. In a subsequent patch the ‘save everywhere’ option was added, however I stuck to the original system due to the bonus XP.
Besides the crashes the game also comes with some minor bugs. Some are in weapon/skill abilities, others in the skill trees. It’s always a bit of a bummer that, after spending a skill point you figure out the skill is bugged.
Did I enjoy the game? The combat system pulled me through, yet overall there was just too much repetition turning the game into a chore from mid-game on.
I would give it a 5/10 and can’t really recommend it, only when it’s perhaps dirt cheap in a sale/bundle.
The ambience, music, setting, etc. is beautiful.
There are some performance issues but nothing that can’t be dealt with. In 20 or so hours of play I encountered one incident of having to reload a save due to a bug and 1 fatal error (resulting in again, reloading a save.). Not great, not unplayably bad.
The main reason I can’t recommend this game is, despite its unique combat system and beauty and depth and storyline and and the rest of it, and the glorious feeling of nostalgia, after a while, it feels like you’re playing Frustrating Puzzle Simulator.
Now don’t get me wrong. I like puzzles. And some of the puzzles in this are quite clever, and good.
Unfortunately, it seems that they decided to just use the same ones over
Ragequit #1: There’s a puzzle involving a flying wisp and turning totems. You are introduced to this puzzle gradually and it becomes increasingly complex. It was very satisfying working through the various iterations of this puzzle. The first time. Even the second. But two zones later, you’re still seeing these wisp totems.
Same thing with the door-gear-cogs. Cool idea, ridiculously over-used, throughout the game.
Did I mention spinning runes? Pushing blocks onto things? Yes, over-used, throughout the game.
The problem is that most of the puzzles aren’t very intuitive. There’s no clear objective of what you’re trying to achieve. Do I want to match all these symbols? Do them in a sequence? Oh wait, reverse the sequence for seemingly no reason whatsoever but just because we can? Or also fun, game says "read this book" and that book doesn’t say anything, it actually meant to read this other book….
Like I said, don’t get me wrong. A few good puzzles to solve as you go, is great. But this game shoves puzzles down your throat at every turn. Consider entering a tower and fighting your way through it. Commence rotating energy thingies to open doors. Fine. Some cant be rotated, ok fine. Rotate thingies on floor, open doors. OH LOOK thingies are on wall now. Ok no problem, rotate thingies on wall and floor. Next room. Same crap again. Now they’re on the ceiling. Seriously? Enough already, i want to go fight the things and kill them and get the loots and proceed with the quest. EVERY SINGLE ROOM YOU STEP IN, THROUGHOUT THE GAME, in EVERY SCENE, HAS crap for you to push, pull, rotate, match, etc. Lets play match the constellation. Lets play push the blocks onto things.
It just got old.
A lot of the stuff in this was great from an exploratory sense, I loved the exploration abilities, the combat was unique, and the skill system – all of that was great. But I spend about 75% of my time rotating blocks and putting buttons, and I finally got fed up with it. Its a shame, I’d really like to see the rest of the game, but enough is enough.
Even though this game’s been absolutely packed with broken geometry since launch, they haven’t thought to hotfix in a /stuck command to put you in the closest navigable area or your last save location, so if you don’t have manual saves and don’t manually save after every fight, you’re only a mistep away from throwing your time away, even now. That’s why I have to recommend against this despite having quite enjoyed my time for the most part.
There’s the fact they’ve got a limited budget and can’t QA their game properly, that’s forgiveable, but that they’ve refused to give players to tools to unstick themselves from terrain when it continues to be a problem after all this time just comes across as ignorant or arrogant. I’ve tried to find if there’s a debug mode but I’m only finding instructions for either an older game or an older patch. I suspect it’s been disabled in the consumer version which is unfortunate due to the gamestopping bugs.
Aside from that the game’s very charming. I’m entitled to a nuanced opinion about a complicated thing. There’s a promised big 2.0 patch and some more free content, so jump in on it then, not now.
First I will break down the 3 major complaints I have seen about this game.
1) Saving: Well first of all this was already addressed by inXile but IMO it isn’t a problem in the first place. When the game launched, you could only save at certain locations. Think old Final Fantasy titles that had save points. Well so many people complained they patched in the ability to save anywhere, albeit at a small XP loss. In my opinion, not being able to save anywhere adds to the overall ecosystem of the gameplay and influences how you approach certain problems, but if you really need some hand holding, that option is there for you now. You can play without save anywhere enabled if you still choose to.
2) Puzzles: A lot of people are complaining about the number of puzzles being too high, and/or the difficulty of the puzzles too great. First of all, these puzzles are not hard. They are the difficulty you’d expect in a re-imaging of an old school RPG. The ecosystem of Bards Tale IV is old school RPG, albeit with 3d graphics. "Difficult" puzzles are supposed to be a big part of a game like this. It’s not all combat, and it’s not supposed to be all combat. The puzzles, IMO, could really only be considered hard if you aren’t used to playing games with puzzles on them. I cut my teeth on Myst and the puzzles in this game are child’s play compared to a game like Myst. They are also interesting to figure out and rewarding when you do. Unfortunately inXile is going to introduce a patch that lets you skip puzzles (optional, the puzzles will still be there) to coddle those who just want to blow through the game, but I don’t see how that can even be fun. But I understand also wanting to sell the game to this "new generation" of gamers who just want to roflstomp through the whole game.
3) Linear: Okay, so I think this complaint just comes from people not knowing what to expect. This is a classic/old school style RPG. You have the main quest and several optional side quests. No, this is not a sprawling open world sandbox game. There are several different maps/zones that have big maps, but ultimately you could say the progression is linear. But that was not uncommon for classing RPGs. This title is also only $35 dollars, at full regular price. It does not have the same breadth or scope as a $60 title. The charm of this game is that it sticks true to the classic RPG ecosystem. You have your hubs, with adventure areas in between. The adventure areas consist of a mix of puzzles, combat, and exploration of hidden paths/rooms/secrets. And there are definitely lots and LOTS of secrets in this game, and remember, I’m not even barely halfway through the title, and have 20 something hours logged already.
Those are the 3 biggest complaints of this game that I have seen floating around and I hope I have addressed them. In short, my take away from people’s complaints is that they are all silly and mis-attributed, possibly due to confused expectations and not being familiar with the classic RPG genre. If you are a fan of classic RPGs this game is 100% for you. If you don’t have a lot of experience with classic RPGs, inXile has been patching, and is introducing new patches this summer to make this game more accessible to that kind of player. If you are not a fan of RPGs at all, this game is not for you. It is not a hack and slash or anything like that. The combat is turn based.
In summary, I will close with the three things that impress me the most/that I like the most about this game.
1) Secrets: There are so many secrets that you will miss if you just blow through this game. Most of them aren’t even related to sidequests. Just out in the wild while you are going from one hub to another there is easily half a dozen secrets in any given stretch of travel. It is very rewarding to find them, some of them rewarding awesome gear, or neat little easter eggs.
2) Progress/combat: The progression system for your characters in this game is pretty deep. There are a lot of options and a lot of abilities you can get for your different characters. Even some items have special abilities unique to that item that allow the character using that item to access that ability, or some items that augment specific abilities. There are just a lot of options here and you will be able to build your character party in a way that suits you the best.
3) Graphics: Okay, so really this is more about the art direction and the environments/scenery. If you inspect things closely, rocks, trees, NPCs, etc aren’t as high res as AAA games these days, but remember, this game is only $35 so its more of a indie-budget title. But even with that handicap, the scenery is amazing. There are a few sections I have got to so far where you get to a peak or a clearing and its obvious they wanted to show off the art direction. These scenery is beautiful and well crafted. Just taking your time, looking for secrets, and taking in all the scenery is one of the big reasons I have spent 30 hours in the game so far and am only halfway through.
This is definitely the longest review I have written and if you stuck it out all the way through, I appreciate your time, but I don’t write many game reviews but when I saw the reviews for this game was Mixed, I really thought I should do something about that, because Steam user ratings are a big deciding factor for me when it comes time to buy a game or not. If I see mixed, I am inclined to stay away. I really think this game is great though (so far) and if you can see through those shallow complaints, I think this game will really pick up through word of mouth and in the future people will look back on it as a "hidden gem" or "cult classic."
1) as a random stand alone game and it is called "Barrows deep"
2) as a sequel to a trilogy of previous games and it is called "Bards tale 4"
1) Barrows Deep
You start out with a pregenerated character. Later, after some walking around where you are basicly walking a script with zero variety you get the chance to change your starting character into something else. Additional characters can only be recruited by spending "mercenary tokens", and you don’t get any of those until later, so you are stuck for quite a while with pre-scripted characters you get one at a time.
Attributes are simplistic.
Strength is litterally the ‘damage attribute’, meaning all 4 classes use strength as a direct conversion of how much damage they do with an attack (regardless of which weapon is used or if a spell is used. )
Constitution is your health attribute. your hitpoints (damage you can take before dying) is directly affected by this attribute. Get +1 constitution and you get +1 hit points.
Intelligence is some weird attribute that governs the likelyhood of maintaining a channelling ability if you are hit by an attack while chanelling.
And that is basicly it.
Then you got the 2 combat attributes of armor class and spell points.
Armorclass is a raw deduction in damage taken from an attack and spell points start at zero each combat (but mages can spec into starting with one) and any spell cast removes those spellpoints. In order to get spellpoints during combat you need to channel a turn or more (note: Bards get spellpoints by drinking a consumable resource called alcohol).
Equipment affects the above by being simple ‘stat sticks’. in other words, a dagger that gives +2 strength is the exact same as a sword that gives +2 strength in most cases. "armor" also merely applies attributes and the most common way for armor to give survivability to the user is to just have some +constitution on it (which in turn just gives a lfat addition to hit points). There’s no real visible indication while playing of what equipment your characters are using, except for on the ‘dress up doll’ wher eyou drag and drop your equipment to. In this regard the backpack, or inventory, should be mentioned. It is artificially limiting in size, and you often need to click back and forth between deffirent ‘pages’ in your inventory to get a clear view of what you are actually carrying around. This also impacted shops, who couldn’t purchase anything more if you filled up their inventory (which happened really fast).
Skill trees are like any random modern game, really. Except that the interaction with combat masteries (more on that later) means that the player often ends up feeling he have to choose between pointless skill A or pointless skill B just to progress along the skilltree. Every level-up, a character receives a skill point to place in the skill tree. Some of the "skills" are such fascinating choices as ‘+1 intelligence’, ‘+1 strength’, ‘+1 constitution’ and so on. There are actually some ‘real’ skill choices along the way, where you get additional skill choices to use by a character. Oh, and every crafting item is skill required, so if you want to be able to use the crafting system, one of your characters will be ‘that guy’ that stands in the corner without participating in combat because all his skill points where used on crafting and the mastry system means he’s not going to do anything in combat anyway when you have combat dedicated characters that need the actionpoints. Basicly the skill system feels unrewarding and leveling up a character gives you a ‘meh’ feeling instead of you feeling good that one of your characters leveled up.
Races are… well… there are different races, but at the time I was playing there was really no point to not make every character a trow. the racial benefit of getting extra actionpoints just outweighs any other racial, so there might as well just have been a single race cause the Trow race is just flat out the best. Nothing else to add.
Combat is…. crap… There, I said it. The thing is, it is turn based, but of the kind where one side do all its actions first with immediate resolvement and then the next side does its actions. Whoever initiates combat goes first. Now, instead of giving orders to each character and having everything do something, inXile looked at games like hearthstone and felt inspired by that (they specifically mentioned hearthstone as an inspiration). What this means is that each character have a limited set of masteries (active skills) they can use. Want the option to attack? that’s a mastery. Want the option to move? that’s a mastery slot. and so on. Some are fixed for all characters (move and trinket use is hardlocked for all characters as 2 of their masteries) and the rest 3 or 4 choices are choosable by the hero while you are NOT engaged in combat. once you are in combat you are locked into using whatever abilities you had set in the mastery slots before combat. I am guessing inXile thought this would be akin to deckbuilding or something like that. Add to this that you have a shared pool of ‘action points’ to use on your turn. Most mastery skills cost a single action point to use, but some cost more than one. And usually you have less actino points than you have characters in your party, so remember that guy I mentioned you put in the corner doing nothing during combat? The whole combat system feels extremely restricting and claustrophobic. Add that there are no hit chances (everything hits) and no damage variables (you make an attack, you hit for… how much strength did you say you had?) and combat stops feeling like combat, but more like a low level puzzle in a meeple placement boardgame.
Finally add to this that the setup of the grid area only allows a small handfull of monsters at a time, and in addition to needing to spend along time doing basic combat because of the artificial system, they have included ‘waves’ to make it appear that combat can actually deal with larger groups of monsters. So an example could be you facing off against 4 monsters, then as you kill them one by one, the last monster stands alone. Then you kill it, and wave 2 appears and 4 new monsters appear. Kill them in the same way and the last wave 3 might appear with 2 more monsters. A sure sign of a simplistic combat system that can’t really handle the combats even the devs thought would be a minimum to evoke any feelings of acomplishments. Most battles seem to be of a single wave, but I experienced at least one 3 wave combat in the 10 or 11 hours of playtime before writing this review. I’m guessing more will appear as you progress through the game.
Puzzles are simplistic ‘push the blocks around the game world until it stands on the switch’ type. there are quite a few of them and they feel more like padding than they feel interesting. Since they are all scripted, they don’t exactly add to replayability either, merely becoming a chore you need to do to progress.
So overall for barrows deep I can’t really endorse the gameplay or design and I would not waste my time on it unless you can get it on a good sale.
2) Bards tale 4
So as a sequel to a previous trilogy of games, there should be some connections to those, right? Well appearantly the developers thought that just slapping the name "bards tale 4" and then namesdropping a few npcs and locations would do the trick, because that is ALL there is of connection. Everything else have been changed. Those expecting a bards tale experience should look elsewhere. Everything was changed and you wouldn’t know it was a bards tale game if it hadn’t been named as one. Even the lore was changed.
Basicly, avoid this game unless it is on a good sale.
Combat is exploitable in the late game
Puzzles are fun
Fully customizable skill trees, you get to choose how each character plays, and can reset any character at a low cost.
Elven weapons are a nice touch.
Secrets everywhere in the map.
I like the goofy puzzle wheel of items
Combat is exploitable in the late game. (Two mages on your team mean that if you fight an enemy mage, you have infinite turns as long as the enemy still has mana)
Puzzles are the only challenge in the late game, as combat turns into rocket tag (whoever goes first generally wins).
Other than the fighter and the mages, you only need 1 of each class to experience all of their skills.
Gear doesn’t scale with you. It just stays at a certain point, and you’re just looking for which one has a +1 over your current gear in the late game.
Bugs, good lord are there bugs everywhere. To the point where I’ve just quit the game for a couple days. Do not initiate combat diagonally, while on the 2nd floor of anything; you will soft lock the game. There’s a group of enemies near Sentry tower that keeps respawning, if you kill them again, the game crashes. The game seems to have an issue with initiating combat diagonally, in general.
Three late game quests are the exact same thing, just in different zones. "Oh no, you can’t kill x, you need y item, then kill z." Which is two quests in it’s own, padding the play time.
I actually like the overall combat system introduced in the game and think it had plenty of promise…sadly that was not to be as the abilities implemented in the game actually get in the way of its own innovation.
By the end of the game I had been using the exact same ability combination for the past 10+ levels and never even bothered to use half of the already very limited list of potential abilities. Unfortunately the game seemed designed to require such crazy synergies as encountering enemies with 75+ armor and the ability to annhiliate the entire group if they were allowed to attack even once were commonplace. It feels like someone developed a pretty cool combat system for level 1-6 and then walked away from the project leaving someone else to figure out the rest … poorly.
The puzzles are nifty, but you spend the entire second half of the game solely doing puzzles as every fight is exactly the same and lasts no more than a couple rounds.
I really wanted to like this game and I even bought into the concepts it introduced in the first few levels. The game just did not seem dedicated to its own concept.
Disappointing in the extreme. This game had lots of potential.