InXile announced today that the first part of The Bard's Tale Trilogy, a remastered release of the '80s Bard's Tale RPGs that was announced in 2015 as a Bard's Tale 4 Kickstarter backer reward, will be out on August 14. A launch trailer for Tales of the Unknown, as the first entry is called, showcases both the old-fashioned dungeon-crawling gameplay and the updated art and sound that will bring it, just a wee little bit, into the modern era.
The remastered release will deliver "a uniform playing experience" across all three games, inXile said, without the emulation or compatibility struggles that typically accompany efforts to play a game that's not too far from middle age. Parties can be carried across all three games, and all of them will have improved spell access, inventory management, and an automap feature which, trust me on this, you'll be thankful for. You'll also be able to play as a male or female character in all three games, something that apparently wasn't possible in the original releases of the first two.
Work on The Bard's Tale Trilogy began at Olde Skuul Games, but that hit a snag in early 2017. InXile said in a Kickstarter update posted in May of this year that it had "agreed to part ways" with Olde Skuul, but still wanted the games remastered for new players. That led it to a partnership with Krome Studios, which decided to give the games "a fresh coat of paint" along with the compatibility overhaul.
It was a major undertaking: Each game looked and functioned differently based on platform (courtesy of Mobygames, have a look at some DOS (EGA, I assume)/Apple II/C64/Mac screens below) and the complete source code wasn't available for any of them.
"If archaeology and game development had a baby, it would be this project," Krome head of development Lindsay Parmenter said. "By studying the code across different versions of the game, we were able to piece together developer intent and recreate it. Of course, having access to some of the original team members helped, too!"
Those who didn't back The Bard's Tale 4 can pick up the trilogy from Steam or GOG (opens in new tab) for $15. The second part of the trilogy, The Destiny Knight, is expected to be out in the fall, while part three, Thief of Fate, is slated for a winter release. Krome also plans to release a "Legacy Mode" option for the trilogy, which will make the games play similarly to the original releases, "with all the challenge that entails."