Not a lot of video games encourage their players to drink responsibly. Grand Theft Auto 5 (opens in new tab) happily lets you fly commercial jets while completely cabbaged, for Pete's sake. But in The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep - the CRPG follow-up to 1988's Bard's Tale III - drinking responsibly is crucial to staying alive, at least if a bard is in your questing party of fighters.
This character class - one of four fully customisable party members you can adventure as (and alongside) in Bard's Tale IV - is able to brew and drink magical boozes to buff themselves when fighting enemies during the game's turn-based combat stages. Drink too much, though, and the poor crooner will pass out, reducing them to a useless heap, though developer inXile suggests a "tactical collapse" is a potential option in this chess-like game of personalised strategy and intrepid fantasy.
This is just one of several reasons to be excited for the Bard's Tale IV which, despite being a sequel, aims to please total CRPG neophytes as much as those deeply acquainted with the historic series, with a focus on beautifully rendered world building and storytelling to complement all the robust, tactical battling that the original games are famous for.
The best upcoming games of 2018 (opens in new tab)
I've been tucking into a demo build for the upcoming title, which now has a firm release date, and it's lots of good fun, nailing that yesteryear tone of classic PC gaming while keeping modern design sensibilities intact. The Bard's Tale IV was successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter (opens in new tab) in 2015, comfortably exceeding its original funding goalpost of $1,250,000, and its backers will be able to enjoy this same demo (which translates to around the first six hours of the game) as of today.
Given inXile's portfolio, from Wasteland 2 to Torment: Tides of Numera, it's easy to predict The Bard's Tale IV becoming a future cult hit among the PC crowd, though console ports are in the works to introduce the world of Caith to a wider audience, which would mark a first for the IP.
But don't just take it from me; you'll be able to play the entirety of The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep for yourself on September 18, later this year, when the game comes to PC, with PlayStation 4 and Xbox One ports expected not long after that.
Have a read of our best RPG games (opens in new tab) guide to satiate your role-playing fantasies, at least until Bard's Tale IV finally hits PC.