The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep
The Bard's Tale IV could be a fun — but seriously flawed — game if it weren't hamstrung by technical problems. Its frequent framerate drops, bugged combat abilities, and crashes are compounded by an archaic save system that makes it far too easy to lose progress. Though it features some great combat and challenging puzzles, they're not without their own flaws, and become extremely repetitive over the game's 30–40-hour playtime.
There are one or two missteps here and there, but The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep is a wonderful RPG that has to be explored to be understood for the gem it is.
The few performance issues aside, it's a game that's hard not to like.
The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep is definitely for a specific crowd of hardcore RPG and series fans, and for those, it caters wonderfully. It features a fascinating world and one of my favorite turn-based combat systems in recent memory. That being said, it may not be as appealing to a mass audience due to its complicated nature and glitches. For a franchise that hasn't been seen in 30 years, that may not have been the wisest decision. However, I do hope The Bard's Tale series sticks around because the core experience is great, making the game one of the most interesting RPGs I've played in 2018.
Barrows Deep is a shaky throwback that, despite occasional success in its stripped-down, straightforward approach, suggests that maybe simplicity and escapism has limitations of its own.
The Bard's Tale IV is a little retro pleasure that is hard to ignore. The characters are fun, its universe is rich and the game mechanics are deep. Unfortunately, the game is not up to par visually and looks like something that was released ten years ago.
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Without the bugs, The Bard's Tale IV is okay at best. With them, it's perhaps best to preserve your nostalgia and play the HD remaster of The Bard's Tale I to III instead.
The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep is a frustrating mix of brilliance and bad design. Future updates may elevate it to something more but right now it, sadly, suffers from some broken strings.
Although it doesn't quite all come together, this RPG has some robust mechanics and comber that set it apart.