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Video Game / The Bard's Tale IV

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The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep is the fourth installment of the until-recently-accurately-named "Bard's Tale trilogy", developed by inXile Entertainment — a studio comprised of many of the same people who worked on the original trilogy at Interplay Entertainment back in The '80s.

150 years have passed since the defeat of Tarjan, and many things have changed in Skara Brae. Over a century ago, the town fell into ruin and was eventually rebuilt under the new direction of the Church of the Sword Father. This new, pious Skara Brae has outlawed magic and banished non-human residents, while the heroes of old have become half-forgotten heathen legends. But when the ancient monsters begin returning and citizens of Skara Brae start disappearing, only one group can stand in their way — the Adventurer's Guild, outlawed and driven underground (literally) by the Fatherites, but still fighting for the salvation of the land.

The game went to Kickstarter on June 2, 2015, and exceeded its funding goals. It is not to be confused with The Bard's Tale, a 2004 Spin-Off also created by inXile. A trailer with in-engine footage was released June 4th, 2015. In a trailer released on July 12, 2018, they revealed the release date: September 18, 2018.

Tropes to be found in the game:

  • Ascended Meme: The "Red Boots" DLC (available to anyone who backed the game) is a Shout-Out to a fake DLC that was supposedly released for Wasteland 2 (as a mockery of DLC practices by publishers). It has become an actual item that can be obtained and worn in-game.
  • Ban on Magic: The Fatherites have outlawed the practice of magic in Skara Brae and the surrounding Caith region.
  • The Bard: The Bard class buffs their allies by playing specific music pieces for various effects.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: The Monk class grows in immediate power, the longer you go without rest.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Those haunting vocals in the background of the trailer? They're the poem the magic mouth recites translated into Scottish Gaelic.
  • Call-Back: The magic mouth in the first trailer is reciting the introductory rhyme from the first game.
  • City of Adventure: Skara Brae returns as your main adventuring hub from the previous games, albeit as a new city, rebuilt from scratch long after the old Skara Brae was destroyed. The old Skara Brae, however, is still present, but right under the new City and almost fully explorable.
  • Character Class System: The eight base classes from the original games, Warrior, Paladin, Rogue, Bard, Hunter, Monk, Conjurer and Magician, return and are joined by the Cleric. However, only four classes (Bard, Rogue, Practioner, Fighter) are selectable right from the start, for the others you need to finish a sidequest and these other classes are basically extensions of the base classes (adding a branch in their skill tree).
  • The Church: The Church of the Sword Father is an oppressive, anti-magic, anti-non-human religion that has taken control of Skara Brae during the Time Skip.
  • Class and Level System: Each player character has a class and gains new and evolving abilities as they progress in level.
  • Combat Medic: The Cleric class specializes in healing, but can also be quite effective at fighting undead and dark magic.
  • Dungeon Crawling: Dungeons are the main focus of the game.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Fatherites have banished elves, dwarves, and trow from Skara Brae and destroyed all portals to their realms.
  • Ink-Suit Actor:
    • High-level pledge backers on Kickstarter will have their faces digitized and placed into the game as tavern patrons.
    • Brian Fargo (the founder of InXile) also lent his likeness to the game as a DLC skin, "Bardic Brian", for anyone who supported the campaign.
  • Item Crafting: A crafting system was one of the stretch goals that were achieved.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: According to a former Fatherite priest, while the majority of the Swordfather faith always did preach intolerance towards non-humans and magic, it was mostly limited to harmless preaching and rabble-rousing. It wasn't until Heren came to power and began radicalizing and empowering the Fatherites that they started to become able to act out their delusional beliefs.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: The Adventurer's Guild has been outlawed and driven underground (literally) by the Fatherites, who control the minds of the general populace, but still continues to fight for the latter against the encroaching evil.
  • Multi-Platform: The game is available on Windows, Linux, and OS X.
  • The Paladin: The Paladin class is a defender who serves as the Stone Wall while simultaneously buffing the party or debuffing enemies.
  • Player Party: Not right from the start, but as soon as you get your 6th party member, the player can create a new six-person party right from scratch. It will cost you some Mercenary Tokens, which are very limited.
  • Prestige Class: Like in the original, Conjurers and Magicians can eventually upgrade to the Archmage class, although this system also will be expanded considerably.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Zig-zagged. The soundtrack, with at least some songs in Gaelic, has quite a good amount of songs based on tradionals, but a lot of songs are original compositions.
  • The Siege: The castle of the High Jarl of the Einarr is under siege by the selkies when you first reach it.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Achievement for keeping Melody as your starter character instead of creating your own is called Unchained Melody, a popular song that was covered hundreds of times.
    • There's an old farmer who despises adventurers. He sells nothing but cabbages.
  • Summon Magic: Summons are available both to the player and to the enemies, with potential to drastically turn the tide of battle.
  • Time Skip: The fourth game in the series takes place 150 years after the third.
  • Trilogy Creep: The original trilogy remained thus for over a quarter century but now that seems to be over.
  • Turn-Based Combat: One where the positioning of the characters is vital, as heroes on the left side cannot attack enemies on the right, or sometimes even in the middle, without moving (which uses an action point). It has an uncommon variation where you use Action Points, but they're shared between the entire party instead of an individual.
  • Weird Trade Union: The Adventurer's Guild.
  • Western RPG: And a successor to one of the genre's Golden Age highlights, to boot!