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Default RPGWatch Feature - Not a Review of The Bard's Tale IV

November 5th, 2018, 19:48
Originally Posted by Wisdom View Post
Its funny how in current society we give participation stickers to everyone, we can't 'shame' anyone for inadequacy or inaction, and yet… yet we nail people to the wall when we feel they've disappointed us.

I guess my definition of success and failure must be dated.
Its an interesting question of what we deem a success or failure.

As a game in its own rights, I wouldn't call Bard's Tale IV a failure. It does some interesting things, and I consider that prevents it from being a failure. Others can look at how Bard's Tale IV uses sound and see that as a positive example of using sound in a game, for example.

But I suspect InXile will consider it a commercial failure, and the question is if they could have done things differently to prevent that. For the future of the Bard's Tale intellectual property it might also not bode well.

For me it is also an illustration of how not to run a nostalgia based Kickstarter. You want your backers to market your game for you, not shower your product with negative reviews from the get go. Of course its easy to second guess when something is finished.

I think the developers were passionate about their game, and probably had to make tough decisions. For example, I wondered if they maybe had a puzzle guy who did a great job and produced a ton of working, interesting puzzle. Whereas maybe the guy responsible for the rpg mechanics had to scrap some ideas, because things didn't work well when implemented. Maybe that's why the game is so puzzle oriented. Those are the kinds of things we'll probably never know.
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November 5th, 2018, 20:28
I backed this game and even recently got my email notification that my boxed copy is on the way. Sadly, I doubt I'll play it. I can't stand check point save schemes or any mechanism that rigidly controls when I can stop my game. Stayed away from Kingdom Come for the same reason. By the way, this is not a comment.
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November 5th, 2018, 20:34
I enjoyed this review quite a bit. I have not (yet?) purchased The Bard's Tale IV, and this gives me a good picture of what to expect.

If I understand correctly, one of the main dislikes of the game is the huge volume of puzzles. The puzzles described in this review remind me of puzzles which are found with high frequency in the recent Tomb Raider games, although that was not the only type of gameplay in those games. I enjoy the recent Tomb Raider puzzles a whole lot, so I'm wondering if someone who has enjoyed the recent Shadow of the Tomb Raider would be able to comment on the similarity of those environmental puzzles with the puzzles in The Bard's Tale IV?
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November 5th, 2018, 20:42
I'm a backer and I have my boxed version already.

I like the remasters of the original trilogy.

I will play part IV as well, but I'm much more involved in other RPG releases at this moment.
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November 5th, 2018, 20:44
I backed the game and just got my box copy in the mail. Quite dissapointed in what I have seen of the game. (Haven't played much yet though).

Sorry to hear there are so many puzzles; I agree the early games had puzzles here and there but it was no where near the main focus of the game. I wish they would have just updated the look and feel of the world but made a more modern remake of the original games.

As someone who loved the originals it was worth it just for the remasters. I really hope they release the "legacy mode" for the remasters however. I wonder with bad sales if that never occurs and the games are quickly abandoned. Hopefully they continue to work on them and even do a director's cut of the main game and make it better. (doubt it though)
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November 5th, 2018, 20:46
I still do like the game, but I wish there were more NPCs.
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November 5th, 2018, 20:52
I got over three quarters of the way through before giving up. I almost gave up at the approx one third mark, as that forest area with the constellations becomes utterly tedious. I like puzzles in CRPGs, but the balance of puzzles to other content feels way off.
I'll return to it pretty soon, but overall, not what I was wanting from a BT game.
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November 5th, 2018, 20:53
Backed the game.
Expected an old school dungeon crawler with focus on combat and character progression.
Got a puzzle game in dungeon crawler disguise.
Very disappointed.

Still happy that I backed because the OT Remasters are awesome!
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November 5th, 2018, 21:01
Originally Posted by GabrielMP_19 View Post
I think it's a crude exaggeration how people think that reviewers do not play the games. I don't think they actually finish the games all the time but most major sites would not tolerate their reviewers doing such a lazy work.
The main issue, I believe, is either that the reviewers are simply bad or that they do not understand the game very well.
Thats fair. Personally I have a hard time believing that a reviewer can be 'simply bad' and face no repercussions from their hiring manager. I do understand reviewers not understanding games. There are many self proclaimed 'mobile or FPS enthusiasts' that should not be reviewing strategy style games.
With the abject adoration and adulation that accompanies professional reviews on AAA games, its easier to believe they haven't actually played it to write what they call a 'review' and it really should be renamed as 'preview' or 'initial impressions'.

The only cases I can point to as to where the reviewer did not play the game was Civ4 and ME:A. There was two cases where something was written as a review, but it contained part of the tech demo and was cut even from the initial release copies sent out. Both have since been 'updated' as the net is so easy to change.

I'm fully aware that this can be a personal bias. My opinion on professional journalism as a whole is 90% based on the fact they want sensational articles for clickbait. If that means stretching the truth, ignoring facts, or outright lying… They haven't done a good job of proving otherwise.
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Last edited by Wisdom; November 5th, 2018 at 22:29.
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November 5th, 2018, 21:04
You gotta feel bad for inXile as both Torment: Tides of Numenera & Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep are commercial failures. Here's hoping Wastelands Three is a commercial success.
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November 5th, 2018, 21:06
Originally Posted by Saxon1974 View Post
I agree the early games had puzzles here and there but it was no where near the main focus of the game. I wish they would have just updated the look and feel of the world but made a more modern remake of the original games.

As someone who loved the originals it was worth it just for the remasters. I really hope they release the "legacy mode" for the remasters however.
Its one of the problems with any campaign based on nostalgia. It actually can't be recreated. There are very very few instances where it can even come close. Too many emotions to capture the past and its impossible. I would use the word zeitgeist to explain the essence of an age but I don't know how to make this sentence work in english.

I find its better to enjoy Torment, Fallout, Ultima & BT games as individual works rather than trying and connect them in anything but name.
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November 5th, 2018, 21:41
Originally Posted by Wisdom View Post
I loved the disclaimer up front about time played. Heaven forbid we have another #MaylanderReviewGate scandal.
Which was…. ????
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November 5th, 2018, 21:45
Haven't read all the comments, but wanted to give a comments about the "Not a Review" anyways.
I think The Bard's Tale 4 is actually one of the games which you'd need to finish to be able to fully judge. Your conclusion wouldn't change (it's still a puzzle game) but lots of the mechanics turn to the worse.

The combat for example: First I want to mention that calling it card game mechanics might be partially true, but this usually associates the mechanics to random factors as in "drawing random cards", which for the Bard's Tale is not true.
But back to my point: The balance of the combat breaks horribly after half of the game.
And with that the balance of the character system also breaks horribly at that point. So "your choices are important" is only true for the first half of the game. After that you are pretty much overkill anyways. Your choices will not really matter at all.
Also you get much more XP than the character system can handle. At some point (and at that point you are already OP for quite a while) you will just take "something" which doesn't sound like total garbage.

It's also true for the gold/money system. Money is rare and important…in the beginning. After about half of the game you are swimming in gold. And then you also get a rogue ability that you can "buy" everything for free. So gold becomes completely and utterly pointless. At the same time, most of the rewards you get for solving puzzles switch to gold…which damages the satisfaction of solving these puzzles as well.

The Crafting System: Absolutely pointless. You can craft grappling hooks. And if you do everything you can craft 2 or 3 elven weapons. Basically everything else is maybe usefull at the beginning, but even then I'd say it's rather pointless. You dont need food as you heal on saving (or consuming the stone), and the next/previous stone is always closeby. You also don't need potions or similar in the fight - these are taking up a slot you could use for other stuff. Also the combats are becoming extremely easy anyways. I didn't even use any potions during the whole game as I used the slot for permanent stat boosts and I don't remember ever thinking like "If I just had a potion now".

Another thing are quests: You might think in the beginning "Wow! You really get a lot of sidequests here!" But thats not the case. Quests are heavily front loaded. You get several quests you will not be able to solve until dozens of hours into the game and then oftentimes the ending is not even satisfying. But it's not like you would get new sidequests again and again during the rest of the game.

So…I wouldn't say that you would need to finish the game in order to be able to judge whether or not you like this game. But lots of the mechanics in it unfortunately get much worse after half of it due to horrible balancing, changing the perspective drastically.

What is actually keeping this game somewhat decent is the one thing which cannot be fully destroyed by bad balancing: The puzzles. So if you are already not liking the puzzles in the beginning, you will also hate the second part of the game, when basically everything else breaks, and only the puzzles remain.
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November 5th, 2018, 21:56
Originally Posted by Kordanor View Post
What is actually keeping this game somewhat decent is the one thing which cannot be fully destroyed by bad balancing: The puzzles. So if you are already not liking the puzzles in the beginning, you will also hate the second part of the game, when basically everything else breaks, and only the puzzles remain.
This is so, so true. :thumbs up:
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November 5th, 2018, 21:59
I played it through, but can't say I actually enjoyed the final third or so. I am kind of surprised so many seem so annoyed with the fairy puzzles, I expected more of them after reading so many complaints but they were mostly really easy and not frustrating to me. The damn fire beams though. And the final dungeon with the cog wheel puzzles. THOSE were annoying. Also had to lower the difficulty from hard to easy to be able to beat the final boss within felt kind of funny, because there was no way I could adjust my party or builds to be able to finish it otherwise since one of my most important guys got one-shotted before I even got to act…

Still, I enjoyed the game a lot. But a but more classical character building system and less puzzles would have made it better for me. I went in hoping for something closer to say Wizardry 8 (never played the earlier BT), but got a huge game full of puzzles. Funny thing is, had it been say 30% shorter I think the experience would have been a more positive one.

Thanks for the "not-review" @forgottenlor!
Last edited by TomRon; November 6th, 2018 at 09:00.
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November 5th, 2018, 22:17
Originally Posted by TomRon View Post
Also had to lower the difficulty from hard to easy to be able to beat the final boss within felt kind of funny, because there was no way I could adjust my party or builds to be able to finish it otherwise since one of my most important guys got one-shotted before I even got to act…
Not sure how you reached that point without a decent party as you have several abilities which are overpowered, including some OP elven weapons.
I played on hard and the final boss did only survive one turn, in which he summoned some thing. I could have made it 0 turns if I timed the first "wave" of the combat better.
https://youtu.be/lRw6gSJe32A?t=3287
(not embedding it by purpose, so no spoilers for anywhoe who doesn't conciously click on it)

Funny thing is, had it been say 30% shorter I think the experience would have been a more positive one.
Yep, absolutely agree. Though if it was actually as challenging as you describe it, the last 30% would have been fine.
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November 5th, 2018, 22:19
Originally Posted by forgottenlor View Post
I would say (going by feeling) 50% of my gametime was spent solving puzzles. Combat like 20% and 30% exploration, leveling, other interactions (like going to a shop or talking to npcs). That doesn't include backtracking, which also took up a bit of time.
50% solving puzzles? Ouch. It's sat in my Steam account and I'll give it a go at some point, but that is not the ratio of puzzles to exploration / combat I was after. I sometimes like puzzle games for short bursts but I can't imagine spending 40+ hrs in one.

Anyway, thanks for posting your detailed thoughts - very interesting.
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November 5th, 2018, 22:25
Originally Posted by Wisdom View Post
Personally I have a hard time believing that a reviewer can be 'simply bad'.
I disagree. I think the gaming industry mostly has bad reviewers. In the last 15 years, that includes, with few exceptions, the print mags that are still around. More broadly, my view is that journalism in general is in the toilet when it comes to quality, accuracy, and facts. Google-copy-paste opinions rule the industry.

I will however concede that in gaming journalism, there is at least one big systemic problem which is how game reviewers get paid. It doesn't pay to play a 100 hour game for 100 hours and then write a review. If you do that, you probably won't get many jobs writing reviews.

Still, as a consumer, that's not my problem. The gaming journalism industry mostly puts out garbage and it's why I won't pay for anything from them. I'd feel the same way toward a review of literature by magazines/websites who put the same two hours into review a book like Moby Dick as they would some pop culture fad book under 100 pages. One can go ahead and review this way, or work an industry who's business model is set up this way. But I'm not reading those reviews and I'm certainly not going to pay for them.

All this is why I love places like RPGWatch. I put far more credit in peoples' opinions of games who frequent this website than to the dubious "game reviewer" industry.

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November 5th, 2018, 23:11
Originally Posted by Kordanor View Post
Haven't read all the comments, but wanted to give a comments about the "Not a Review" anyways.
I think The Bard's Tale 4 is actually one of the games which you'd need to finish to be able to fully judge. Your conclusion wouldn't change (it's still a puzzle game) but lots of the mechanics turn to the worse.

The combat for example: First I want to mention that calling it card game mechanics might be partially true, but this usually associates the mechanics to random factors as in "drawing random cards", which for the Bard's Tale is not true.
But back to my point: The balance of the combat breaks horribly after half of the game.
And with that the balance of the character system also breaks horribly at that point. So "your choices are important" is only true for the first half of the game. After that you are pretty much overkill anyways. Your choices will not really matter at all.
Also you get much more XP than the character system can handle. At some point (and at that point you are already OP for quite a while) you will just take "something" which doesn't sound like total garbage.

It's also true for the gold/money system. Money is rare and important…in the beginning. After about half of the game you are swimming in gold. And then you also get a rogue ability that you can "buy" everything for free. So gold becomes completely and utterly pointless. At the same time, most of the rewards you get for solving puzzles switch to gold…which damages the satisfaction of solving these puzzles as well.

The Crafting System: Absolutely pointless. You can craft grappling hooks. And if you do everything you can craft 2 or 3 elven weapons. Basically everything else is maybe usefull at the beginning, but even then I'd say it's rather pointless. You dont need food as you heal on saving (or consuming the stone), and the next/previous stone is always closeby. You also don't need potions or similar in the fight - these are taking up a slot you could use for other stuff. Also the combats are becoming extremely easy anyways. I didn't even use any potions during the whole game as I used the slot for permanent stat boosts and I don't remember ever thinking like "If I just had a potion now".

Another thing are quests: You might think in the beginning "Wow! You really get a lot of sidequests here!" But thats not the case. Quests are heavily front loaded. You get several quests you will not be able to solve until dozens of hours into the game and then oftentimes the ending is not even satisfying. But it's not like you would get new sidequests again and again during the rest of the game.

So…I wouldn't say that you would need to finish the game in order to be able to judge whether or not you like this game. But lots of the mechanics in it unfortunately get much worse after half of it due to horrible balancing, changing the perspective drastically.

What is actually keeping this game somewhat decent is the one thing which cannot be fully destroyed by bad balancing: The puzzles. So if you are already not liking the puzzles in the beginning, you will also hate the second part of the game, when basically everything else breaks, and only the puzzles remain.
I actually read your comments and those from others about the 2nd half of the game on the Bard's Tale 4 thread and knowing the game gets worse, and not having fun with it in the beginning helped me to decide to put it down when I did.
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November 5th, 2018, 23:32
Originally Posted by Couchpotato View Post
Here's hoping Wastelands Three is a commercial success.
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Chinese daily soaps?! Oh well, at least not so cheesy as k-drama.
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Last edited by joxer; November 5th, 2018 at 23:42.
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