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Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter: for the lovers of good ol' dungeon crawlers

JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 18,690
As I wrote some time ago, Bard's Tale IV was announced. Now, inXile launches a campaign to promote the upcoming Kickstarter for this project.

The Kickstarter is launching on June 2, 2015, and the funding goal is going to be $1.25M, to be supplemented by an equal amount from inXile.

The game will not be using Unity but rather Unreal Engine 4, with a particular focus on an impressive graphical appearance, which perhaps explains the funding goal.

The PCGamesN's interview explains how faithfully oldschool the game will be.

You’ll build a six-strong party of adventurers - creating bards, magic-users and thieves from scratch. But in the time-honoured tradition of dungeon crawling, they’ll share just one pair of legs - exploring maze-like environments as a congealed mass behind the camera. Whether that party will appear in battle as portraits or fully-rendered characters is a question of budget, to be settled by the Kickstarter campaign.

The game will snap to a grid for combat which some might call turn-based, but which Brian Fargo calls phase-based - a back and forth exchange of blows and buffs that sees the player cycle systematically through each of their party members. By the time the sixth gets to throw a punch, they might be facing an entirely changed situation.

“You may tell person number one to do whatever he does,” explained Fargo. “But something’s going to happen over the other side of the board which is going to affect what you tell the person in slot number two to do.”

Players aren’t forced to keep to 90-degree angles during exploration - they can unhinge themselves from the grid and stretch their necks in all the ways contemporary first-person games have taught us to expect. But InXile’s environments will be designed at severe right angles, in accordance with the limitations they’ve set themselves.

“The grid does force us to design it a certain way,” said Fargo. “There’s a pureness to it, and a quick understanding of things which is nice. When I’m exploring a world that’s more structured, it’s easier for me to put it together in my head.”

While The Bard’s Tale IV will feature plenty of NPCs and a certain amount of civilisation, it’ll be predominantly subterranean. InXile have set the game around 160 years after the events of the first Bard’s Tale, and in a poetic touch the original city of Skara Brae is now one level down - a ruin buried beneath another, newer metropolis. For inspiration, the team visited Mary King’s Close in Edinburgh - a warren of 17th century streets found beneath the Royal Mile.

Below the new city, players will find further dungeons, including recognisable locations from the trilogy. That network of caverns will be home to secret doors, and buttons that click but offer no immediate explanation of their function. It’ll house unlabelled teleporters, and areas of total darkness. Levels will be built one on top of the other and make spatial sense, to the extent that falling through a trapdoor will plant you in the logically-appropriate space on the floor below.

Fargo expects that some players will want to map them out on graph paper, “down to a square”.

“You have your smaller puzzles that are right there in the room, but then you have this macro puzzle of how the design of the dungeons are,” he said.

The grid-based conundrums of Legend of Grimrock spring to mind, and Fargo says he’s appreciated the design of more recent attempts at the genre - but believes there hasn’t been a “big, ambitious attempt at doing the dungeon crawl in some time.”

The only contemporary influence he cites by name is The Room - the tactile puzzler about feeling your way into sealed tomes or locked cabinets (“That kind of physical manipulation of the world, I think they did an excellent job”). InXile want some of the same interactivity for The Bard’s Tale, with optional puzzles and riddles that’ll reward patient players with better gear.

That philosophy will extend to item design. Fargo imagines a perfectly ordinary sword you might carry in your inventory for most of the game - until you happen notice a latch on its hilt which, when flipped, causes it to set aflame.

“That constant discovery, within the environment and in your inventory, I think there’s lots of things to be done with that,” he said.

So, it seems that there're exciting times ahead for the fans of Grimrock 1 and 2, Might and Magic X and the older games they were built on, as well as for those who played The Bard's Tale games in the past.

I guess it should be interesting for all BG players too: after all, building a six-member party of adventurers including bards, magic users and thieves sounds quite familiar:)

See also:, and



  • kcwisekcwise Member Posts: 2,287
    I remember watching my dad play the original while I mapped the dungeons. Fun stuff. He didn't enjoy the second in the series and we never even tried the third. I wonder if a game this "old school" will garner the interest of gamers in the same way as an Infinity engine inspired title might.

    Some of the exploration puzzles with spinners, teleporters, and darkness could be maddening. I wonder if a modern audience will appreciate that sort of thing since most newer RPGs avoid such roadblocks and challenges.

    It should be fun to see how this works out.

  • MathsorcererMathsorcerer Member Posts: 2,725
    I have already signed up to receive notice when the Kickstarter goes live. The only thing I don't know right now is how much I will contribute. I browsed through the tiers yesterday to note the premiums and I like the idea of being able to write an item description or work with the developers to devise a puzzle but some of those are a little outside my range right now.

    @kcwise the Nospin Ring was one of the Best Items Ever (tm).

  • WilburWilbur Member Posts: 1,173
    I played a bit of one of the Bard's Tale games (I don't remember which one since I think it was in the 80s :smile: ) when I was a kid. I didn't really know what I was doing, but I really liked the atmosphere nevertheless.

  • typo_tillytypo_tilly Member Posts: 5,681
    edited February 2017
    I think this is the newest Bard's Tale IV thread. :D

    There've been a few trailers put out. :) Nice, old school, Wizardry feel.

    Combat Trailer
    Environment Trailer

  • Balrog99Balrog99 Member Posts: 4,890
    A blast from the past getting a facelift, eh? Sign me up!

  • jjstraka34jjstraka34 Member Posts: 7,097
    This is probably the inExile project I'm most interested in, and also the one I think is least likely to see the light of day, at least this decade. Even the remaster of the original trilogy for backers (which I'd gladly pay $40 for on it's own) now seems to be on life support.

  • typo_tillytypo_tilly Member Posts: 5,681
    edited February 2017
    "Least likely to see the light of day." But why? :( Have there been delays? Granted... Torment Numenera was delayed for 2 years? *-) So, yeah, I could see the same happening to Bard's Tale. :/

    I'm also most looking forward to this. I'm sure Torment Numenera will be a good book-like RPG, but Wizardry-like combat is what I'd like right now. :) And I put in extra for that soundtrack! Can't wait!

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