Metascore
80

Generally favorable reviews - based on 74 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 59 out of 74
  2. Negative: 0 out of 74
  1. Jan 14, 2014
    100
    The Banner Saga is blindingly lovely and arguably just as intriguing to play. Built atop a world that all but demands the attention of travel documentaries, it's epic in the literal sense of the word.
  2. Jan 30, 2014
    95
    An experience I advise no one to miss.
  3. Feb 14, 2014
    90
    Regardless of whether future installments stand or fall, The Banner Saga has done its duty. It may not always give gamers what they want, but it gives them what they need: challenging questions, tactical gameplay, and a strong, fully realized atmosphere.
  4. Jan 31, 2014
    90
    A great start for the next entries. The combat system is extremely polished and the game has great characters and a detailed world that we want to explore even more.
  5. The Banner Saga is an example of a successfully Kickstarted video game that gives its backers everything they wanted, including a story that’s rich in character and detail.
  6. Jan 30, 2014
    90
    For all the compromises you're forced to make within it, the game itself never compromises on the quality of its writing, art, and tactical combat.
  7. Jan 22, 2014
    90
    The Banner Saga is one of the most original games you’ll play this year. That such a small team has managed to create a story that will be unique to every player is astonishing, and that the story actually makes you care even more so.
  8. Jan 15, 2014
    90
    Last year, Expeditions: Conquistador and Shadowrun Returns proved that Kickstarter can help create a good RPG. But The Banner Saga is not just good – it’s amazing.
  9. Jan 14, 2014
    90
    A beautiful and unforgettable experience, very well written, with a challenging combat system, and where every action has its consequences. A game that RPG fans shouldn't miss.
  10. Jan 14, 2014
    90
    The cast is plausible and the art is nothing short of exceptional, and everything is molded in a coherent, fascinating experience. A great result from Stoic that puts some brilliant out-of-the-box thinking and sheer creativity to good use.
  11. Jan 14, 2014
    90
    The Banner Saga is one of the most engrossing games I've played in a long time. It drives you forward and is incredibly hard to put down. It's the kind of game that throws you a really unpleasant curveball when you least expect it, and I love it.
  12. Jan 14, 2014
    90
    With a refreshingly unique aesthetic, well-written story, and challenging gameplay, The Banner Saga is an excellent adventure well worth your time.
  13. 90
    If you’re getting tired of swords and sorcery, or just looking for meaty tactical battles, few RPGs will satisfy you better.
  14. Jan 14, 2014
    90
    Filled with strategic gameplay and impactful decisions, The Banner Saga is a gorgeously epic Norse-inspired adventure whose only real fault is that there isn’t more of it.
  15. Jan 14, 2014
    89
    The Banner Saga delivers an engaging story, narrated with great visual and music artistry. The combat system developed by Stoic Studio is also enjoyable.
  16. Jan 14, 2014
    89
    The Banner Saga’s mature and gripping story, sublime visuals and soundtrack, and engaging gameplay make for a game that’s worth raising the banner for.
  17. Jan 20, 2014
    88
    The intangible thing that ties everything together is the mood of the game — grim and somber in a way that fits the setting perfectly. Whether it’s the hard-bitten characters, the swirling snow, or the haunting score by Journey composer Austin Wintory, The Banner Saga is a game about an apocalypse that actually feels like there’s something being lost, not one that feels like a chance for an unkillable hero to simply kick more ass.
  18. Jan 14, 2014
    88
    Distinctive writing, nuanced combat and impossibly beautiful art headline The Banner Saga. Strong workmanship went into the character builds. The rethought turn-based tactics are unique and sensible. And I just couldn’t slow down the insistent narrative of this brave world and the bold new legend it’s sewing together.
  19. Jan 22, 2014
    87
    A great tactical RPG coming from a forgotten era of videogaming, with a brilliant art style and a melancholic story.
  20. Jan 14, 2014
    87
    If you have any imagination at all, The Banner Saga’s terrific writing will take you on a splendid tour in one of the most interesting worlds computer game developers have created since the original Mass Effect. It’s a love letter to fantasy books and features an epic story with fascinating characters, that will sweep you away and not let you go until its end, which sadly comes all too soon.
  21. Jan 14, 2014
    86
    The Banner Saga deserves commendation for the strength of its art and music experience alone, which shatters conventions. That experience, in turn, complements a bleak story of a world teetering before its fall, where the harshness of the Scandinavian landscape mirrors the plight of mutually distrustful refugees.
  22. May 11, 2014
    85
    Banner Saga is a fine - but towards the end a bit repetitive - turn-based viking adventure. [Feb 2014]
  23. The Banner Saga is a successful example of turn-based strategy. Beautiful story combined with quality music and artwork is enough to get you hooked for days.
  24. Jan 22, 2014
    85
    Despite its confusing beginning, we want to keep walking these northern lands like our heroes: suffering all kinds of hardships, but with a light heart.
  25. Jan 22, 2014
    85
    The Banner Saga is an absolutely gorgeous, engrossing RPG that features well-balanced and pleasingly tactical turn-based combat. It's a linear journey, but one that's definitely worth taking.
  26. Jan 15, 2014
    85
    One might say that The Banner Saga is somewhat halfway between the classic The Oregon Trail and Kingdom of Dragon Pass, mixed with tactical turn-based combat and a story that covers the epic feats of the Norse gods. A new example of the portentous level which independent developments continue to achieve, each day more and more about overcoming some of the major productions. From its humble mechanical and its simple-but-stunning visual style, we have a solid, exciting and unique title in its genre supported by an interesting plot line that offers us decisiveness. One of the best indies of this early 2014.
  27. Jan 15, 2014
    85
    The Banner Saga isn't what you’d strictly call “fun.” Instead it's interesting and challenging, more like a chess match than death match. But there's an incredible satisfaction when you take on a gang of armored monsters that by all rights should trample you, yet you're able to hamstring their health then line them up for execution.
  28. Jan 15, 2014
    85
    The Banner Saga is a very unique game - an excellent mix of cRPG and tactical battles with a compelling story, interesting characters and wonderful, cartoonish graphics. It's definitely not a game for everyone, but fans of complex stories will be overjoyed. And in case they are fans of Scandinavian hero stories and love sad fables as well, The Banner Saga is a must buy.
  29. Jan 14, 2014
    85
    The beautiful, atmospheric snowy world of The Banner Saga forms the decor for a story in which you're forced to accept all the consequences of your choices. The simple, but entertaining turn-based gameplay usually works in favor of the story, not the other way around.
  30. Jan 14, 2014
    85
    Depending on a number of factors, The Banner Saga should take around 5-15 hours to complete on first playthrough. Despite a few minor issues with enemy variety and the tedium of recurring encounters, Banner Saga stands out as an excellent tactical RPG with considerable depth.
  31. Feb 7, 2014
    84
    We also couldn’t tear ourselves away from the breathtaking background drawings and impressive character art that portray a new and mysteriously beautiful world that awaits to be discoverd.
  32. Jan 16, 2014
    83
    This game is not for everybody. It's painfully unfair, has a unique graphics style and tells its story in windows full of text. But it's an unforgettable experience once you give it a chance.
  33. Jan 23, 2014
    82
    There are deeper strategy games, but few where you'll feel quite so invested in the outcome. Recommended.
  34. Mar 12, 2014
    80
    It's an outstanding start for a trilogy, and one that we can't wait to see to its end. [Issue#145, p.116]
  35. Mar 9, 2014
    80
    A fantastic combination of fantasy storytelling and RPG tactics. One hell of a debut from Stoic. [Apr 2014, p.62]
  36. 80
    If the story and art style doesn’t interest you, then the combat will absolutely draw you in.
  37. Feb 27, 2014
    80
    Bold and distinctive. [March 2014, p.102]
  38. Feb 12, 2014
    80
    There are definitely some mechanics to be fixed, namely the monotony of the combat, but I enjoyed my time in this bleak world thoroughly.
  39. Feb 3, 2014
    80
    The Banner Saga is a human story told with inhuman flair, and that somehow makes it all the more relatable. Even the fights themselves have grown on me – they're just tough enough to provide a challenge on normal difficulty, but not so unforgiving that I feel like giving up.
  40. Feb 3, 2014
    80
    Each choice feels incredibly meaningful because it affects everything.
  41. Jan 30, 2014
    80
    It’s challenging and thoughtful, but it does lamentably become repetitive.
  42. Jan 30, 2014
    80
    Due to the bleak landscapes, the depressing situations your characters find themselves in and the challenging tactical combat, this is a game for those who will find the challenge rewarding rather than those looking for lighter entertainment.
  43. Jan 28, 2014
    80
    The Banner Saga might not be for everyone, but it sure is drenched in craftsmanship. When the story and characters get a hold of you, an experience starts that you’ll remember for years to come, even though it has a rough edge.
  44. Jan 22, 2014
    80
    As with any good tactical game, the system takes a few turns to get the hang of, with new strategic moves being learnt even after your umpteenth battle.
  45. Jan 22, 2014
    80
    The Banner Saga is a precious game that deserves the attention of anyone who is fan of strategy games and at the same time wants a good story, which has the advantage of letting the player take part in its course.
  46. Jan 21, 2014
    80
    Hardship and displacement in a Nordic-inspired world make for a splendid, and splendid looking, RPG.
  47. Jan 20, 2014
    80
    Banner Saga is a fascinating trip to Norse mythology. Half leg deep in snow, you will enjoy your wars, dilemmas and also emotions, all in its graceful audiovisuals. Several of its flaws and ambiguities are not worth mentioning. You should not miss this visual novel.
  48. Jan 20, 2014
    80
    The emotionally affecting narrative steals the show and highlights Stoic's skill for storytelling, while combat is more commendable than spectacular.
  49. Jan 17, 2014
    80
    Its tactics and strategy layers might not be the deepest in the genre. But The Banner Saga is still the sort of adventure that has seasoned warriors burst into sombre campfire song. Sing along, if you dare!
  50. Jan 16, 2014
    80
    Credit then to Stoic for crafting a game experience that makes such gloom palatable, beautiful, and yes, even enjoyable.
  51. Jan 16, 2014
    80
    The designer Sid Meier famously said that a game is a series of interesting choices. It's a maxim fully embraced by The Banner Saga, which stitches those choices into its very fabric to form a tapestry that is wholly your own.
  52. Jan 15, 2014
    80
    The hand-drawn visuals, interesting combat, and epic story mean The Banner Saga is crafted from flawless pieces - even if the final product is a little rough.
  53. Jan 14, 2014
    80
    The Banner Saga is an excellent Tactical/Adventure game mixing Bioware-like RPG with choices and consequences, and turn-based fights. It is not perfect in terms of gameplay, but it is visually stunning. We can't wait for the next episode.
  54. Jan 14, 2014
    80
    The Banner Saga offers a refreshing take on the tactical RPG with a story every bit as engaging as its combat.
  55. Jan 14, 2014
    80
    The Banner Saga is dark and onerous experience, but its one that draws you in. I'll be waiting with bated breath to see which way this winding path darts next. Something tells me we're not out of the woods just yet.
  56. Feb 5, 2014
    78
    With an inspiring art direction, a relentless but interesting game design and a good combat system, The Banner Saga only suffers from a lack of variety in its fighting scenarios and its slow caravan sequences. This solid Kickstarter game shows its pedigree but some players might not get charmed by its particular setting.
  57. Feb 3, 2014
    75
    The Banner Saga is good game with his flaws. It’s horrendously difficult and its build for a certain group of gamers. If you love slow-paced RTS gaming with incredible consequences, The Banner Saga is the game for you.
  58. Jan 17, 2014
    75
    A game that will probably be remembered more for its amazing art direction and music than its gameplay. It's not bad, mind you, but it has definitely some tactical flaws. In the end, the Banner Saga will be able to capture you with a branched and inspired narrative, and solid battles.
  59. Jan 14, 2014
    75
    Beautiful, well written, but aggravating. That’s The Banner Saga in a nutshell.
  60. Feb 7, 2014
    74
    A saga indeed - long on story, short on gameplay - and as a gamer it's something you'll either love or hate.
  61. Mar 5, 2014
    70
    Turn-based combat – especially later in the game – is enjoyable, but too easy on the normal difficulty level. Visuals resembling old Disney movies are wonderful and music is excellent. It’s a shame that the characters have no voices though, because it would make them easier to attach to. [03/2014, p.64]
  62. Feb 24, 2014
    70
    For all its flaws and shortcomings, The Banner Saga's ambitions shine through well enough. [March 2014, p.52]
  63. Feb 16, 2014
    70
    Stoic has been successful with its tactical role-playing game. The viking theme and graphic design is a breath of fresh air, while the animations and the combat system could have been a bit more varied. Expect a text heavy and challenging experience where most of the role playing consists of your choices in dialogues which then affects the plot.
  64. Jan 27, 2014
    70
    Overall The Banner Saga's an enjoyable product, just one that lets itself down in several key ways. It's almost where it needs to be, but these niggling issues prevent it from reaching its full potential. That said, it's a damn fine-looking game with quality writing at a reasonable price, and still comes fairly recommended for anyone looking to flee for their lives in a harsh and unforgiving environment.
  65. Jan 27, 2014
    70
    The Banner Saga offers a good look into the world Stoic has created for this three-part adventure. It’s a depressing, but beautiful tale of survival against all odds, one that creates a developed plot and theme without degrading the characters or world to appear mature.
  66. Jan 16, 2014
    70
    Some of the most difficult decision-making in gaming, both tactically and morally, but occasional rough edges betray the game’s small budget and short development time.
  67. Jan 14, 2014
    70
    The Banner Saga is a beautiful game, filled with interesting ideas and enjoyable battles. It's too bad the story gets entangled within its own winding web, but this chilly journey does a fine job of reminding you that being a respectable leader is about more than just giving rousing speeches and schmoozing with the high and mighty.
  68. Jan 22, 2014
    69
    The presentation promises much and is highly polished but it lies at the surface, working to conceal the more problematic aspects of the actual game itself.
  69. Feb 16, 2014
    68
    Gorgeous and with some great ideas, but lacking the genre's defining depth. [March 2014, p.80]
  70. Feb 27, 2014
    67
    Despite the fact that the game's battle system never fully clicked for me, I was won over by the well-rounded universe that Stoic has established, providing players a few good reasons to count their lucky stars when training some women later beget archers for combat, or just for having collected some supplies without losing fighters in the process.
  71. Jan 16, 2014
    65
    While I applaud their artists and music, The Banner Saga has very little else to cheer about.
  72. 60
    On their way through a beautiful landscape, the developers made a few missteps but the result still goes well with long winter nights. [Issue#238]
  73. Jan 14, 2014
    60
    The battle system controls easily and is fairly easy to learn; those who see this game basically like chess will enjoy it. Those looking for a new RPG to get into, however, should look elsewhere.
  74. Feb 7, 2014
    50
    Its stripped down battle system and low production values have a huge impact on the overall quality of Stoics game, a game that has a unique charm but cannot earn a place next to the best "tactics" games whether they are "indie/ kickstarter" projects or not.
User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 433 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 73 out of 114
  2. Negative: 21 out of 114
  1. Jan 14, 2014
    10
    The Banner Saga is such an incredible tactic game. It´s by far the best game i have backed on Kickstarter. It a must have if you like tactic combat game. And it´s a real choose - consequence game (not like TWD) Full Review »
  2. Jan 17, 2014
    6
    After I played this game through, I have mixed feelings.
    - The story is good, your choices do have some impact (not heavy tho) , but most of
    it is told through walls of text, with some animation here and there.
    - Tactical combat is great at the beginning, every unit has one special move which impact the battle, but as he game goes on there are clear choices which characters to take and which not, so towards the end you will take same ones over and over again. Also it gets repetitive towards the end.
    - There are not many bugs, but the ones I had are annoying. For example, I lost all my men due to hunger at one point but the game still goes on, random events about problems of the people in caravan still emerging (even if there are none left). I also think that you can play whole game on easy, and then switch to hard on last battle, and you'll get achievement for finishing it on hard (steam).
    - I played this game on normal. For me, the game quickly turned to hunger game (you're marching without stop 'cause you don't have enough food, and every renown you get, you use on buying more food). Battles tend to be easy with little practice, but if you played whole game on normal last battle is almost impossible. Hence, I got achievement for finishing it on easy, even if I played only last battle that way
    - The game map is useless, except if you're into reading more walls of text to figure out the whole "setting" of this game (I think that is "RPG" element)
    - It is clear that this is meant to be just first part of series, 'cause game ends pretty much in the middle of things. Its like you sit and watch just first part of the lord of the rings.

    All in all, since this is advertised as indie game and it's from kickstarter, it is very good. Bearing that in mind, price of 23 euros is just too high, that's why my score is that low. Add +2 to score if you don't care about money and waiting for (possible) next chapter in this saga. 10-15 euro price tag would be more appropriate for this game.
    Full Review »
  3. Jan 16, 2014
    2
    Well, now we finally have the Banner Saga RPG, and I have to ask: What were they doing in the year between this release and the free combat multiplayer? Because it doesn't look like they were doing much at all, honestly, the game looks like it was abandoned at about the 70% completed mark, so sparse is the gameplay, dialogue, plotting and yes, even the vaunted artwork.

    I've heard how there are "10 hours" of play time in this $20 title, as if that's even defensible in an RPG, but I have to say that that isn't the case, the playtime is extended artificially by a series of unskippable cutscenes, travel scenes and battle scenes that add nothing to the game except to drastically slow the pacing in order to pad out what little was delivered at release.

    Serious issues:

    -Poor story, minimal player choice, remarkable little "dialogue" given that text is the cheapest content a game designer can offer, and this designer offers little except for text. I figure there's under 10 pages of normally-spaced text in this game, and I doubt you'll see more than 6-7 pages of it in a given playthrough.

    -Beautiful artwork that quickly becomes copypasta after the first couple chapters. The game is "oregon trail" style, just a long slog down a dangerous road, and once you pass the 3rd or fourth copypasta'd landmark (godstones) or village you realize that the art talent was as poorly directed as the rest of the game.

    -There's an entire interactive map screen that promises a sandbox-style play at some point (or at least a few hubs to choose from), but DOES ABSOLUTELY NOTHING throughout the entire game, you are on rails down a text-driven road with the same 3-4 choices every few days. This is the most glaring example of an unfinished game element that I've ever seen in a full release. It's like having a character tab for "inventory" and then clicking on that tab doing nothing, because the function was never implemented.

    -The tactical level of the game on "Normal" is definitely challenging, however once you learn how to manage the three types of opponents (dredge, human, varl) in the first couple chapters, you will never really think that hard about combat again, because ultimately it is quite shallow, and 80% of your opponents will be Dredge anyway, with the occasional boss fight,

    -The script, such as it is, is dark and despressing, with every choice essentially a bad one. But the whole trudging from one place to the next, "chased" by enemy isnt really that dramatic, like Battlestar Galactica, but much more like Oregon Trail: A slow, tedious slog with your people starving and complaining the whole way, only at least in oregon trail you had some actual resource management role to play, in Banner Saga, you can't hunt for food and most of your opportunities to get more will come from dialogue choices that give no hint of the results, so you have to memorize ideal decision trees and then reload the game to accomplish your tasks. Horrible design.

    2/10, 1 for art and 1 for initial tactical combat difficulty. Many minuses for giving up on what could have been a solid adventure with some gritty decisions but just wound up being a muddled mess.
    Full Review »