The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep Has Steam and GoG.com Stretch Goals?

Bards Tale IV Wishlist Stretch Goals

Beer, Beer, Beer – wait wrong game

While I have been talking about some older RPG games lately, a series I played but never held a must play place in my library was Interplay’s The Bards Tale.

It was a series that holds a special place for many RPG players, I was too young to really get into it and The Bards Tale was one of the games I came back to later when it was released as a trilogy on MS-DOS.

A few years ago, inXile bought The Bards Tale back – sort of.  It was a top-down tongue-in-cheek affair.  It was silly, and it was 15-year-old me kind of funny, but it wasn’t The Bards Tale.

After a mixed reception, inXile went back to the drawing board and with the aid of Kickstarter designed a direct sequel to the original trilogy.

Coming to Steam and GoG.com September 18th, The Bards Tale IV: Barrows Deep is coming out for everyone.  I have been kind of aware of it, but it hasn’t been a game I could say I’m truly looking forward to.

Not for any bad reason – it looks like quite a reasonable game built upon a solid premise.  The Bards Tale just doesn’t get me that excited, and apparently, I am not alone in this thinking.

So to help with this, inXile has announced a fairly unique strategy – well, unique for Steam.  Essentially, they are replicating Kickstarter social stretch goals.  If The Bards Tale IV makes it to 100, 300 or 500 thousand wishlists, the price of the game drops and potentially includes free DLC!

Bards Tale IV Wishlist Stretch Goals
Half a million people takes a few dollars off, and adds DLC. Not a bad deal.

This kind of promotion I can’t say I mind.  It’s just adding the game to your wishlist – no money down.  Some publishers have tried this before *cough Squeenix cough* with mixed results.

But adding a game to a wishlist?  It’s quietly effective.  Add it to your wishlist and bring the price down!  And a lot of us will probably do it, then forget about it.  Then Steam and GoG.com will slowly remind us over time about that item on our wishlist.

In fourish weeks, it will just be ‘An item on your wishlist is now available’.  In a few weeks, it will be ‘An items on your wishlist is on sale’.  A few weeks after that, because we hardly ever clear our wishlist, it will get swept up in the Steam Summer Sale frenzy.

But today, it won’t cost you a cent to save a few dollars later.  Check out the Steam and GoG.com pages, and see if you think it’s worth contributing to this little marketing gimmick.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

 

**Oh, and if you were wondering what Beer, Beer, Beer had to do with anything, this video from the 2004 Bard’s Tale may help 🙂

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption adds new life to an old friend

Hero-U Rogue to Redemption Feature

What’s better than a remaster of an old favourite?  A sequel of sorts from the original creators!

When I was growing up, there was really only two software companies that made the best adventure games – Sierra On-Line and Lucasarts.  Yes, there where series like Zork from Infocom, and Myst from Broderbund, but while popular these games were essentially a single series.

Sierra and Lucasarts just seemed to keep pumping out quality game after quality game.  Lucasarts was generally something different, starting with Maniac Mansion and progressing to classics like Sam and Max, Grim Fandango and Full Throttle.  Lucasarts really hit their stride in the early 90’s though.

In the 80’s, Sierra On-Line was well on the road to their peak.  Much like Lucasarts had their SCUMM Engine, the Sierra Creative Interpreter tools gave them a fantastic base to make a wide assortment of games.

King’s Quest, Police Quest and Space Quest hold special places in the memories of my generation.  Even Leisure Suit Larry games have their own special quirkiness that elevates the games beyond a simple ‘perve’ game.

But for me, there are 2 absolute gems that I still play now and then.  Space Quest is one of them.  The sci-fi humour just appeals to me too much.  The other began life as Hero’s Quest and became Quest for Glory.

Quest for Glory Start Screen
This used to be cutting edge graphics when I was growing up. Yes, graphics improved UP to this level!

These games managed to streamline and parody RPG games of the time and create something truly unique.  While there were a plethora of adventure games at the time, the Quest for Glory games were one of (if not the) first to introduce RPG style character choice and progression to a new audience of players.

The original designers Lori Ann and Corey Cole truly made something special in many ways.  Each game in the series of five managed to push the boundaries.  Initially, it was introducing the RPG type multi-class system to static adventure games.  Your character was able to be transferred throughout the series, giving the player unparalleled investment at the time.  Combat in adventure games was actual arcade combat – simplified yes, but it wasn’t a case of simply typing ‘fight monster’ and winning.  The introduction of voice acting and ultimately embracing early 3D graphics were some of the other firsts of the series.

Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire was the last in the series, giving fans closure after many years of amazing gameplay.

It was definitely the game with the most split reception at the time.  Quest for Glory V changed from the old point and click interface Sierra had evolved over time and embraced 3D graphic.

This allowed for some changes to the series such as ‘same screen’ combat.  It may seem strange today, but when you entered combat in the original games, the game paused and you travelled to a dedicated screen.  In Dragon Fire, you would actually fight in the world without breaking the game.

Dragon Fire also had the most elements of player choice in any Quest for Glory Game to date.  There was such a staggering number of ways to handle everything that it was one of the first times I saw ‘no choice’ being presented.  While not my favourite in the series, looking back the innovation involved is truly staggering and I have a newfound appreciation for the roadwork it began to pave for games today.

Quest for Glory V Gameplay
Simple now, but amazing for it's day. It's in games like this that modern classics like The Witcher got it's start.

But then in 2012, on this newish thing called Kickstarter, the Coles launched a project to start the adventure anew.  The Quest for Glory may have been completed, but Hero-U: The Rogue to Redemption was just beginning.

The journey was apparently a bit of a rocky one.  Things went well, and software development went as software development does.  In the end, a second Kickstarter was required in 2015 to help finish the game.

But after all the ups and downs, as of July 2018 the game is complete and ready to buy.

This isn’t Quest for Glory remastered.  Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is a totally new adventure where the player takes control of Shawn O’Connor, a student at a school for heroes.

I haven’t looked too far into how the story goes, but essentially it seems to be a little Harry Potterish.  You attend classes and interact with classmates during the day, and explore the catacombs at night.  It seems to be here that you practice your various skills, including combat.

The humour that makes games like Quest for Glory is already evident in the documentation of the game.  The classes from the original Quest for Glory series are all at your disposal – including the Paladin class apparently all from the first.

Hero-U Handbook for Heroes
Hand drawn notes in the school handbook are both hilarious and already have me in mind of The Half Blood Prince

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption has the same style point and click style interface, but combat is now turn-based.  Apparently, if you sneak as a thief (or I am assuming any class if you take sneak points) combat is even avoidable, but in a role play game I don’t do this too often.  Combat increases your health, dexterity and strength just like exercise, and there is something about maxing your stats in games like this that I just can’t pass up.

This looks to be a great start to a new series from the Coles.  Yes, that’s right – the start of a new series.  There are a number of games planned for the Hero University, and I am hoping that Rogue to Redemption is successful and the Quest for Glory magic can happen again.

Hero-U Handbook Gameplay Shot 2
It may not be cutting edge graphics today, but these screenshots make me feel at home already

It’s unfortunate that Hero-U has come to my attention and released while I am playing Octopath Traveler though.   This is a game dripping with nostalgic charm for me, and I really want to give it a good playthrough with time dedicated to enjoying it.

And again, this got me thinking.  Many players of this game would not know anything of the original Sierra games like Quest for Glory, where I have so many happy memories (and frustrating puzzle solutions!) running through my mind now.

Would watching some of these old adventure games be something you would be interested in seeing?  I am giving serious thought to starting at the original Quest for Glory, and going all the way up to Hero-U.

If this is something you would like to see, let me know if the comments!

Otherwise, if you would like to play Hero-U for yourself, check it out on GoG.com where it is currently on sale for AUD$36.99 or on Steam for USD$34.99.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is the gift that continues to give

Hellblade Senuas Sacrifice VR Edition Feature

Almost a year later, PC VR users have just got a free update

Last years Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice from Ninja Theory lit a fire under many gamers.  Self-described as in independent AAA title, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was a unique game for many reasons.

One of these reasons was a central narrative point of mental health. Without going into spoiler territory, a central element of the plot was Senua’s increasing psychosis.  As the player, you see everything from Senua’s perspective, and you also have to decide what is ‘reality’ and what isn’t.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a strange one in my game collection.  I have played enough of it last year to know I want to play all of it, but I am well enough into the story to believe I have a handle on everything that’s happening and am content.

My idea was to grab it on sale when I had a weekend to dedicate to it, probably on PS4 so I could play it on the couch.  Also, the voice effects from the controller are an incredibly immersive touch.

But then while I was looking through GoG.com and Steam to buy a completely different game (I will tell you about that one Monday), something caught my eye.  There is an update for Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice a year after launch.  But it’s not DLC, or performance tweaks, or additional story.

Hellblade Senuas Sacrifice Screen
Even reviewers that didn't like the gameplay mechanics agreed that the story driven focus of the game was stellar.

Simply put – Ninja Theory have put the finishing touches on playing Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice in VR on PC, and it looks amazing.

The announcement trailer is shown below:

Talk about an immersive experience.  The amount of messing with the player that can occur in VR is almost limitless.  And unlike other games that have been essentially rereleased in VR mode, Ninja Theory have elected to make an almost standalone game experience completely free!

So much for my plans on waiting and spending quality time on the couch – it looks like I will be sitting upstairs on my PC in VR!

Even if you don’t have VR, this is potentially a game worthy of your time.  By all accounts, it is an amazing experience on every platform even though I have only played about 3 hours on PS4 Pro.

Just look at the praise it has received to date – not to mention a BAFTA-winning game to boot.  Well, five to be specific: Artistic Achievement, Audio Achievement, British Game, Game Beyond Entertainment and Melina Juergens winning the Performer category for her role as Senua.

Hellblade Senuas Sacrifice Accolades
A game made by 20 people shows you don't need multi-million dollar backing to make a great experience

Playing a game you have finished in VR may not sound like much to a lot of people.  I can tell you after playing Resident Evil 7 in both VR and 2D modes that it really does make for a different experience entirely.

If you are interested in getting Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice for yourself, you can pick it up from the following places:

PlayStation Store AUD$44.95, but on sale for $26.95 until 9/8/2018.  Ninja Theory has confirmed no PSVR Support will be coming, as it is ‘designed for high-end PC’s’.  It does include PS4 Pro support though.

XBox AUD$44.95.  Also includes XBox One X Enhanced support, but also no VR.

Steam – USD$29.99 (Approx AUD$41) including free VR update.

GoG.com – AUD$33.99 including free VR update.  This is probably the best deal (excluding PSN sale pricing) if you have a higher end gaming PC, even if you don’t have VR.

If I get around to playing it in the next couple of weeks, I will let you know how it goes!

Until Next Time,

JohnHQLD

You can get Xenonauts for free from GoG.com now!

Xenonauts Feature

FREE GAMES!  What more do you need?

Way back in the early times, when processor speeds were still measured in MHz and RAM in MB, this game called UFO: Enemy Unknown was released.  This series would later become XCom and have a few sequels and spin-off games until 2000 or so.

Firaxis then picked up the torch with the amazingly fun X-Com: Enemy Unknown in 2012.  But where Firaxis spent time polishing and streamlining the core of XCom, another developer was rebuilding XCom from the ground up.

If you enjoy tactical games, the X-Com series is great overall.  The newer ones look better and have added some fun new elements while keeping the old school feel of the originals.

Xenonauts kept the incredible difficulty of the original series and added a few layers on its mechanics as well.  This means as a player you have more to micromanage, and more stats to have to track.

But when you get everything working together, that feeling of satisfaction is second to none.

Xenonauts Tactical Map
By today's standards, simple graphics. But you can blow it all up, and it's amazing how you lose yourself in the game anyway.

Taking place near the end of the Cold War in 1979, the international forces of the Xenonaut Project are the worlds only fully organised military organisation.  That means while you might have permission to perform missions in another country, the same country you are defending doesn’t have to help you.

Xenonauts Info Entries
I know it's the Xenopedia. But my brain just wont let me.

This means building multiple bases around the world to be able to respond to alien incursions and is one facet of the originals that the Firaxis X-Com games over streamlined in my opinion.

There is a huge amount of depth to Xenonauts, just as there was in the original X-Com games.  This means you have a lot of homework to do, and the information banks are invaluable as you progress through the game.  I still refuse to call it Xenopedia though.

Xenonauts is a game that a lot of players will pick up, play a bit, and put back down.  It is not a game for everyone.  But there are a large number of players that will fire it up out of curiosity, and be hooked with ‘one more turn’ to see where it leads.

Normally Xenonauts is a game I might mention in passing.  I enjoyed it in the past, but I wouldn’t have urged a lot of people to hunt it down either.  Some, certainly – just not a general ‘check this game out’.

But as it’s free on GoG.com right now until about lunchtime tomorrow my time, I thought I might just point it out.  Goldhawk is even close to launching a Kickstarter for Xenonauts 2, so it’s a great time to check out the ground floor of the series!

Have a great day everyone,

JohnHQLD