The Bard's Tale is a series of RPGs born in the 1985, so it's probably older than many of those who are reading this article (and a little older than who is writing it). It is not just a saga like many others, it has been an important building block in the history of this genre: it is part of the Computer Gaming World Hall of Fame, it was exhibited in the Smithsonian video game show, and it started the career by Brian Fargo. Above all, it was the first role-playing game for many players.
Being a classic RPG, can not please everyone: the part of me in love with these games is indignant when someone considers them boring and outdated, but rationally I am aware that a shift title with millions of statistics may not be of interest to many. I am pleasantly surprised, however, of those who still have the genre in the heart, as evidenced by the fact that the Kickstarter for the fourth chapter of The Bard's Tale has collected over a million and a half dollars. It has been thirty years since its predecessor, but it has not been forgotten at all.
At gamescom I got to see the title in action and let me explain from Michael Wetzel, publishing director, how it works and what were the changes to the classic gameplay of the 80 years. The necessary premise to this preliminary analysis, is that they are damned biased, since it is enough to give me a party of fighters (strictly in turn) deployed, and I'm happy. The title is a direct sequel to The Bard's Tale 3, although set many years later, and takes place in the city of Skara Brae, telling a classic fantasy storyline. There are the classic races that we all know, with the addition of the Trow, shaky and gracile beings with a shady appearance, and moreover humans present different ethnic groups, obviously each with characteristic traits. The playable classes are equally historical, since they include the warrior, the thief, the magician and (surprisingly!) The bard. In short, everything recalls the foundations of the medieval fantasy genre and I think it is a good and just thing.
Strategy, logically, is the master. Passive skills, active skills, character traits and placement of the party member on the grid are all elements to be considered for the success of the fights. Once you become familiar with these options, you can move on to decide which skill tree to follow to a particular character, with the aim of obtaining useful skills to combine with each other. The duels take turns, ça va sans dire. First of all, our own, and then it is up to the enemies to unleash themselves doing their worst. In addition to fights there are dungeons to explore and puzzles to solve. which may also be necessary to strengthen our weapons.
What struck me most about the game (besides of course the fact that EXISTA and therefore there is still hope for the human race) is the soundtrack, all sung in Gaelic and really enjoyable, especially the theme of fighting, which manages to to thrill like never before. On the other hand the care of these details is the spearhead of the title, along with the dubbing and Scottish setting, very well done. Less exciting are some technical details, such as portraits of very rough characters, but I can safely and honestly say that if the gameplay works well as I think, I think these problems are totally irrelevant.
The Bard's Tale IV arrives on PC the 18 September, and will later also land on PS4 and One. We will continue the coverage with a more in-depth review, which will in case be able to discover the worst flaws and imperfections. For now, though, let me be optimistic.