“The Banner Saga” Review

I stumbled across “The Banner Saga” in mid-January and picked it up on it’s release date (1/14/14) for $24.99.  I didn’t know anything about it but the artwork looked great and I fell for the trailer and the fact that the developers had previous ties to Bioware…So far, I’ve logged nearly 50 hours of play plodding along on an epic journey with my clansmen.

Value: 8

To sum it up, this game is “Oregon Trail” meets “Final Fantasy Tactics,” crossed with a “choose your own adventure novel.”  There is challenging turn-based game-play that your heroes will face, but the game is unique because a lost battle does not mean you will have to replay a section, but move on at a disadvantage.  I have played through and seen one of the endings so I plan on making some changes to my decisions and opening at least one more alternative…On normal difficulty the game offers a challenge with special emphasis given to the final battle.

Gameplay: 8

This game exceeds expectations with regard to the quality of the artwork and the music composition.  You feel immersed in this unforgiving world and there is a constant sense of urgency moving your characters forward.  The vast majority of dialogue is presented in sub-titles with a very rare voice-over as a scene shifts.  This simplifies the dialogue scenes and further promotes the terrific animation.  The environments presented along the way reinforce the idea that your party has limited resources and that every decision could impact your companions.

Overall Presentation: 9

Total: 25 (any score 22 points or higher is recommended)

I’ve attached some screenshots below (click on the image for slideshow) and will put up a YouTube video soon with documentation on how to get through the final battle (if you had a little trouble and don’t care about some spoilers)…

Final Battle (Spoiler) Video on YouTube: