Parents' Guide to

The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep

By David Chapman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Classic tale has heavy drinking focus but hits right notes.

Game Windows 2018
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The return of this classic role-playing game (RPG), with its strategic combat, puzzles, and musically infused gameplay, hits all the right notes. The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep returns players to a world that originally enthralled gamers with tales of adventure back in 1985 in the original, The Bard's Tale, which launched a classic gaming franchise. Now more than 30 years later, the Adventurers Guild is back in business as the Song of the Maiden rings out once more. This latest entry is more than just a remix of the same ol' song and dance, bringing all-new gameplay elements to the franchise and rebooting it for a new generation of fans.

The Bard's Tale IV blends a first-person, real-time exploration with turn-based-strategy-style combat. After charging into battle, the view shifts to a 4x4 grid, with the player's party occupying the bottom two rows and the enemy forces taking the top. Each character in the player's party can shift position and perform actions using a shared pool of points available per turn. It can take a little getting used to at first, since the tutorials aren't always the best at explaining things. Once you get the hang of things, though, it adds a deeper layer of strategy to confrontations. Players will also often run into puzzles to solve, which are a bit of a mixed bag. While it's usually fun to figure out the solutions to these brain benders, sometimes it can get a bit frustrating to run into an area where they seem to be stacked one right after another. It's still rewarding, but there are moments you just want to get back into the story. Other gameplay elements, such as crafting and character development, take their cues from more modern RPG games, but still feel right at home here. If you're willing to invest some time and effort into learning the game's nuances, The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep can be a very rewarding experience, paying back with a solid story and a strong foundation for more adventures to come.

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