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Default Bard's Tale IV - Director's Cut Review

September 18th, 2019, 22:48
MMORPG checked out the Director's Cut of The Bard's Tale IV:

The RPG Files: The Bard's Tale 4: The Director's Cut Review

The Bard's Tale 4: The Director's Cut is an epic tale of corruption and evil, suffering and loss, of lessons learned too late and and the bitter consequences. It's also a story of hope and triumph and perseverance. It's a game that challenged me and a story that tugged at my heart.

The Bard's Tale 4 had a rocky start last year. We checked out the new changes and got a feel for the performance changes in our Initial Impressions piece a couple of weeks ago. Additionally, combat, enemies, puzzles, and many other aspects of the game were reworked and polished. Those systems felt good in the initial chapters, but a lot of games start strong and finish weak. How well would these hold up over the entire game? I spent the past two weeks working my way through the story. Read on and we'll see if InXile put as much effort into the finish as they did the beginning. There are some minor spoilers ahead so be warned.

[…]

Conclusion

The Bard's Tale 4: The Director's Cut is a dramatic improvement from the initial release over a year ago. More than that, it's an incredibly solid dungeon crawler and respectable entry in the franchise. It weaves puzzles and RPG character progression into a captivating story of love, loss, and triumph.
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September 19th, 2019, 00:28
While I'm enjoying the game and am 80 hours into it, I have yet to discover the 'love' aspect of the story mentioned in the conclusion!!
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September 19th, 2019, 01:45
I too am mostly enjoying the game, after 50 hours or so, and I too have yet to discover the love aspect of the story.

There was plenty of complaining about the number of puzzles when this was released, and while it does have a lot of puzzles in my view they are not too numerous.
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September 19th, 2019, 11:13
I find the game to be like one giant puzzlebox with each battle, puzzle, quest and character gradually unlocking more of the whole. I feel like each time I defeat or solve something, I gradually tease a little more out of the game. The lack of enemy respawn emphasises this, with enemies placed as part of the grand "puzzle" rather than for experience/levelling.

I think it probably does get in the way of the storytelling and world-building a bit, and the use of high level enemy groups on most "exploration" maps to block progression feels a bit forced. That said, yesterday I had a bit of fun after discovering I *could* take on a red-group and visit areas I probably shouldn't. Bloody, but do-able.

Where I think it falters is that it clearly isn't "bard's tale" - should be called something like Tales of Caith or something. Also, as an RPG, progress is very controlled/gated. The skill system allows you the flexibility to make quite distinct character builds, which is a big plus, but is then crippled by only letting you take 3 or 4 skills into battle.

For example, since I needed my bard to be able to hit things occasionally, and had the (very useful) firehorn, and later a weapon with a special effect, there was only room for one bard song. The game offers about 10 songs in the skill tree, and I was only really able to use one.

Similarly, at a certain point you can gain cleric spells, but you'll probably need to sacrifice two of your 3-4 slots to make use of them (depending on charater).

I suspect you are meant to change your ability loadout before each fight, but the reality is that you pick your favourites and forget the rest. You'll then choose gear that boosts those skills, and that's your build.

For me, part of the fun of a turn-based battle system is being able to use lots of odd skills/abilities/spells that wouldn't really be practical in a real-time system. Those edge-case ones that are rarely useful *except when they're brilliant*. This system doesn't allow for that, instead focusing on making you figure out how best to apply your limited selecting in the most effective way possible.

This all adds to the puzzle, and is a clear design choice, but for me it is what stops it being "just one more hour" and instead has me consuming it in bitesize chunks.
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September 19th, 2019, 15:47
After running through the original trilogy over the past two months, I decided against replaying Bard's Tale four just yet, but I do plan on revisiting the game either later this year or early next. My least favourite part were some of the semi-lengthy puzzles, but since I took notes the first time through, they shouldn't be quite the same distraction that they were.
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September 19th, 2019, 16:03
I'm interested in replaying this with the director's cut at some point and curious about the changes. This review seems to be written by someone who never played the original though, so it doesn't tell me anything about what exactly changed.
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September 20th, 2019, 13:57
I am playing this now after just completing the remastered Bard's Tale 1-3. I'm liking it so far but only have about an hour playing it.
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September 20th, 2019, 21:08
I had a great deal of fun when I first started playing Bard's Tale four, shortly after it was released, then the sheer amount and weight of the puzzles dragged it down a lot for me. I did get through it though, but I'm really looking forward to a replay when I know the puzzles will no longer be a detriment.
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September 29th, 2019, 15:16
Before I'm installing it - does it really download the whole stuff, or does it use already downloeded parts from the standard installation ? I mean, 26 GB are pretty hefty for my slow internet connection …
(I don't remember why, but I have both a Steam version installed and a GOG one in my Library … oh, I remember I did so because I wanted to install the game from the retail mediuem, and that was - of course, like everything else is these days - Steam-bound.)
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September 29th, 2019, 16:18
Alrik, back when I first played Bard's Tale four, GoG kept reinstalling the entire game with practically every patch. I'm not sure if that's still the case, but it was fairly annoying when I first played the game.
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September 29th, 2019, 16:56
Yes, I remember 2-3 days of downloading myself …
(No downloads while I'm not at home, of course.)
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