Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep, another 10 hours in (2018)

Bard's Tale IV:  Barrows Deep (2018), developed and published by inXile Entertainment

Okay, depending on what timer I look, I've actually played far more than just 20 hours, my current play time is anywhere between 33 to 25 hours, so take your pick. That's because I've actually died in battles a couple of times no matter how much some people say all the battles are easy. They are not. The moment you step to the wild, green yonders Insriach forest, you'll probably meet an enemy or two, who will shred you to pieces. You'll probably get your ass handed to you in the Baedish Lowlands as well. So after the relatively simple setting of Skara Brae over and underground, the challenges are increasing. (The part 1 of my rantings about the Bard's Tale IV is here)

Before I'll dwell further to my adventures in Caith, let's talk a bit about the bugs and the stability of the game. Between my previous post about the game, inXile has released a 3rd patch. Each patch has increased the stability of the game as well as made it run smoother. The 3rd patch has also improved the visual quality of the graphics by removing the blurry coating the graphics had. There are still bugs in the game but after these three updates, it is definitely going where it should have been on the launch. In many ways, Bard's Tale Iv feels like something that was published in a beta stage and it is only now gearing towards a finished project. I wager it still needs at least two big patches to get there.

The further I get in the game, the more I feel that inXile did a couple of big mistakes with the 4th instalment to the Bard's Tale series. The first is, obviously, the technical state of the game. It has, I wager scared a lot of potential buyers off the game, which is a shame, as it really is a good game on its own right. The second mistake is, as far I can see it, was to start the game from Skara Brae, which is visually rather bland and generic. When you compare Skara Brae to the world that opens up afterwards, even to the underground locations of the city, it simply pales in comparison. The third mistake was to start the game with a ready-made character. it probably would have been better to allow a creation of the first character before the tutorial segment.

Two of those mistakes will never be corrected, I wager. But at least the technical issues are being addressed.

Both of these areas, the Baedish Lowlands and Insriach forest are again filled with puzzles and battles. You can, again, with some degree of freedom, choose where you go, but as it's with the nature of this game, some battles that you can embark on are not advisable before some levelling up and gaining new gear.

Each area introduces new types of puzzles and new exploration songs to use during the travels. Insriach forest itself is a larger type of puzzle. especially if you are keen to unlock all the secrets the Sky Tower hides within its teleporter system.

Other than new puzzle types, the gameplay itself stays the same. You explore, you battle, you puzzle and at some point, you end up opening up shortcuts to move around faster. The most annoying new puzzle type introduced is something people have dubbed "the Fairy Golf". These puzzles require you to shoo a fairy towards posts with a picture of a bird in them. Different birds have different effects on where the fairy flees next and the goal is the get them to fly in magic circles which then open up new paths. These puzzles aren't hard, mind you, just a bit of an exercise of trial and error and that makes them a bit annoying.

Other than that, I'm still enjoying the game quite a bit. I do hope inXile manages to iron out the rest of the technical issues in the future, as that will let it shine like it should. They are on a good path getting there, so I suspect that when I give my third and final take on the game, it'll be fully fixed by then.

the next write up I'll do will be probably after I've finished the game unless something else happens in the meantime.