The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep

The Bard's Tale 4: Barrows Deep was scruffy at launch - I used that word in my Bard's Tale 4 review - but inXile has done significant work since. Case in point: this week's Second Sight patch, which is a whopper.

It allows you to save anywhere in the game - halle-bloody-lujah! Previously you had to wait until you reached a Luck Stone, which was a pain in the arse if your game crashed, which mine did, over and over.

Arguably the biggest thing in the patch, however, is the ability to play the game in Grid mode, like the original Bard's Tale games. As it stands, you free-roam The Bard's Tale 4 and then phase to grid for battles.

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The Bard's Tale

On Saturday 10th November, Microsoft announced buying Californian role-playing game developers inXile Entertainment and Obsidian Entertainment. Two studios independent which had fought for survival for a decade-and-a-half were now under the Xbox umbrella. The message from Microsoft was reassurance: don't worry, nothing will change, we won't kill them - they'll continue to make the games you love, only they'll have more resources and support available to "fully realise" their ambitions. Nevertheless, questions remained.

Both companies are tied up in crowdfunding - particularly inXile, which has Wasteland 3 still to deliver - so what happens there? And what happens to promised PlayStation 4 versions of games - can they still fulfil those as Xbox studios? Moreover, will they leave isometric games behind in favour of glitzier projects?

For this interview, I'm concentrating on inXile, speaking with company founder and video game veteran, Brian Fargo, about the Microsoft deal. I hope to do similar for Obsidian, and I am in contact with the studio, but it's proving trickier to organise.

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The Bard's Tale

The rumours were true: Microsoft Studios is buying Obsidian Entertainment. It's also, in an unexpected twist, buying inXile Entertainment.

The acquisitions were announced during the X018 fan event in Mexico today.

In a statement sent to Eurogamer, Microsoft said of Obsidian: "As one of the industry's premiere RPG developers, we couldn't be more excited about the opportunity to add their expertise to Microsoft Studios, while enabling the studio to preserve its unique culture and build on its talent and vision to fully realise their creative ambitions."

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The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep

I'm sorry this review arrives late, but The Bard's Tale 4: Barrows Deep is stubborn. Trying to power through it is like trying to solve a great pile of crosswords in one sitting: your brain would turn to mush. You could cheat - The Bard's Tale 4 includes a walkthrough out of the box - but you would rob yourself of the point of the puzzle in the first place. The answer doesn't really matter; it's the process you undergo to get it and the satisfaction you feel when you do that counts. In this way The Bard's Tale 4, one giant collection of puzzles, can be enormously satisfying, but force the issue and you will bang heads with it. It cannot and should not be rushed.


The other important thing to know or remember about The Bard's Tale 4 is where it comes from. This has its roots in crowdfunding, and is not a big budget game with a huge team. Character models are dated and cutscenes are slideshows with filters on, and a variety of bugs (a huge second patch for the game has just been released) forced me to reload upwards of 15 times. This is particularly annoying in The Bard's Tale 4, because saves happen at little pillars and not freely from a menu, meaning you have to redo progress each load.


But what other games do you know that come with a printable Code Wheel for solving puzzles? What other games do you know with a bard hero class powered by booze? What other games do you know with a live-action, evolving story recap when you select 'Continue'? What the Bard's Tale 4 sacrifices in polish it makes up for with personality.

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The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep

The Bard's Tale 4 comes out on PC on 18th September 2018, developer inXile has announced.

The fantasy role-playing sequel launches on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One later this year.

The Bard's Tale 4 is a single-player, first-person party-based role-playing dungeon crawler set in Caith, a Scotland-inspired realm. You recruit a party of up to six heroes and explore, solve puzzles and delve deep into dungeons. The combat is a turn-based affair that revolves around smart positioning. Check out the gameplay video below from our Johnny Chiodini for more.

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