User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 433 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 40 out of 433

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  1. 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.
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  2. Jan 15, 2014
    4
    Great tactical game.
    4 stars because:
    * cannot skip cut scenes
    * cannot skip minute long walking animations - do the devs really think we want to watch them over and over and over and over again?
    * no controller support
    * half baked keyboard support
    * fewer game and video options than on a console
  3. Jan 18, 2014
    2
    I really wanted to like this game, and there are parts of it that I don't hate, but holy hell is it a long, long way from perfect. While I enjoy the combat itself, ALL the crap in between seems so poorly thought out, that I can't believe it's not a beta release that I'm playing. I feel like I could list all the things that piss me off, and I'm tempted to do so, but I'll just highlight one contradiction which sticks out as a prime example of how annoying the game is: You, as the player, can't control when the game saves. By itself, this might not be a big problem, if the game actually had some replayability, but if they actually built the game for that, would they have so many unskippable cutscenes, pointless dialog, trudging, etc.... Gah. I feel silly putting more effort into this review. Maybe I'm torn because their Kickstarter campaign raised my expectations so far, and I actually expected the gameplay to not suck.

    Anyway, the artwork and music are really quite nice, but the rest is pretty bad.

    Here are just a few blatantly obvious things, in particular, which I didn't like after only a few hours of playing...

    1) Can't see character stats/abilities from the party selection screen when a new battle starts.
    2) Is there no way to rotate the camera in battle?
    3) Humans sometimes times get lost behind larger enemies... if the Stat Banners button could cycle through Allies/Enemies/All, that could help minimize this.
    4) If you have an arrow on the screen, like in the party screen, map the keyboard arrows to them. Also, let escape return you from markets/heros/wherever to the main screen, and only then let it bring up the options menu.
    5) In battle, let characters move more than once if they have the action points to do so.
    6) Let me choose when to save the game. Didn't game designers learn this lesson years ago?
    7) Why am I able to switch to my web browser, read ALL of Wikipedia, then go back to the game only to find that the army is STILL walking across the bridge. And I can't skip it? Sheesh.

    I'm hoping some of these issues may be resolved, (in addition to lots of the story/pacing issues others have mentioned). This has potential, but it doesn't feel quite done to me. Hopefully it isn't.
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  4. Jan 23, 2014
    3
    I loved the first few hours and I tried to love the rest, and I failed. There game gets high reviews because it had big hype/kickstarter campaign and because few first hour are great. The truth is this game has all the goods at the start. I played it through and, well.

    At first you are dazzled; the game looks and feels fresh, the world map is fantastic, opening intro is great, drawn art
    is stunning. With first 5 mins you are told that you'll see the story from many perspectives, and that sun just stopped in the sky. All this promises a vast fantasy saga, deep world and an immersive story.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. The stunning world map is useless since you can't go anywhere. The great opening intro is the only, repeat THE ONLY, good animation in the game, everything else is sliding still pictures. You'll swap the main character twice, the short prologue included. And that sun just stopped in the sky has no relevance at all. More of this later.

    Few points;

    - False suspension. Your village is sacked and you'll have to run for it, enemy at your heels. But there is no enemy. You can camp for years and rainbows happen.

    - False feeling of choice. As you travel you must (un)manage your caravan. It's like Oregon Train except without ANY interference. You can't ration food, you can't change pace, you can't hunt for food, you can't do anything. You have random events where you'll have to make decision. Bad decisions lose lives/resources, you understand. But it's all a joke because the caravan doesn't matter at all. Starve them all to death and the game just becomes easier. The heroes can't starve so nothing lost.

    - You remember that the sun stopped? That's the game's cheap excuse for not having day/night change. You can rest but it's not obligatory. Just march 120 days without sleep, and nothing serious happens.

    -Characters are uninteresting an uninspired. This is not fallout 1 or 2, or even Dragon Age. Seriously, Final Fantasy Tactics had hundred times more character building and dialogue. You can maybe speak four sentences to each hero, and this is without voice acting. There is a ghost of character building; some dude has a crush on your daughter, your daughter doesn't want to hurt people, that widow kind of starts to warm on you. But none of this goes anywhere. Sometimes the game kills some guys in unavoidable walls of text and then nobody mentions the dead guys ever again. Even the much-vaunted art gets repetitive as every character is only one picture copy pasted infinitely.

    -The dialogue is bad, bad like written by an 15 year potato. Every character speaks modern American English with crap, creepy, yeah etc. which doesn't improve the atmosphere much. Yes, this game is 90% text-driven adventure.

    The combat isn't bad but it's quirky, hit or miss for most of us. It's all about herding/hamstringing enemies and abusing turn order to your advantage. It might seem difficult at first but once you get the system it's baby cakes. The heroes are pretty simplified as far as character building goes and there are only so many ways to build a good team. Magic items are 1/hero and there are no skill trees to unlock, so there isn't much room for customization. Once you learn those about 5 different enemy types battles grow repetitive.

    Also there were small matters which annoyed me:

    1. no free saving, just checkpoints

    2.No subtitles, no keyboard support, no resolution change, no nothing

    3.Can't see heroes stats or swap items in pre-battle roster.

    4.Battle camera can't be rotated or zoomed

    5.Can't skip cut scenes, walking animations, anything, in an absolutely linear story.

    Then there is the story. I'd love to spoil it but there really isn't much to spoil. The story might seem strong at first but soon degenerates to standard fantasy pulp. 120% of the game you just run away from that invisible, nonexistent enemy army to destination which you can't choose, and what happens during the journey doesn't make much sense. So sun has stopped, gods died about a week ago and there is a giant world-eating snake straight from Viking myths. None of these has any relevance to anything, and all are soon forgotten. Then you just reach the final city and oh, it's the final boss. The ending provoked many complains in steam forums btw.

    It's not an awful game but it's not that deep fantasy saga some people paint it to be. It's an mediocre tactical game with an below-mediocre story /writing to glue it together. It gives an odd mixed feeling, for clearly some parts of the game were made with love. It seems somebody had great ideas and passions which died about 70% way through, and they couldn't be bothered to finish the job.

    Currently it costs 22,99€ in Steam and honestly, that's about 12,99€ too much. It doesn't feel like a complete game because it isn't.
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  5. Jan 19, 2014
    3
    The tactic combat game (reminiscent of Heroes of Might and Magic) is fun, but the lack of voice overs for the majority of the storyline really kills the immersion factor.
  6. Feb 21, 2014
    0
    The graphics are cool, but did not keep the promise for a good game. I gave up to play after 20minutes being bored. I never knew who i am etc, worst game ever. Begins with butchering some people, then a dialogue about helping and then the next fight. Who am I ? Who do I fight ? Would help for immersiveness. I ask me how it can get so good reviews, I am really astonished.
  7. Feb 28, 2014
    2
    Deciding whether or not to buy this game? Take my advice: Don't. See, saved you a lot of time, didn't I? Like certain characters, so you level them a lot? Rest assured, the game is going to take them away in the storyline in arbitrary ways you had little to no control over and absolutely no warning about. Enjoy turn based strategy? I hope you also enjoy the main villain of the game always being way more powerful than you and killing one of your men with every shot, while regenerating way more than you can damage in a single turn.

    Enjoy troop and supply management? Don't worry, the same resource you use to buy supplies for your troops is also the resource you use to upgrade your main fighters, so either you have a good fighting group or your people are always starving!

    Appreciate a well thought out storyline, setting, and characters? Don't worry, the game is only about 4 hours long (most of which is spent waiting for the next uncontrollable event to happen), after which you're more than welcome to buy the dozens of DLC's they're sure to come out with soon!
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  8. Feb 1, 2014
    1
    BORING. 99% text reading... No voice overs.... well, occasionally, the narrator speaks, but the whole dang game is like reading a novel... all text and no action. I got bored with the story line after awhile because I wanted some kind of ACTION... something to actually DO instead of just reading and clicking continue. According to Steam, I played for about 6 hours... guess how many battles I actually played in that time..... Well, I can count them on ONE hand! The other 5 1/2 hours was reading... If I want to read a book, I will load up the Kindle app. Yeah, you get to make choices occasionally, which is supposed to affect how the story goes, but whoopie. I won't be playing it long enough to actually see if my choices really made a difference or not.
    This game is 99% story, 1% battles. I like the battles, but they are VERY few and extremely far between.
    I feel like I spent $25 on a BOOK, not a game.
    ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz..........................
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  9. Feb 8, 2014
    4
    - terrible saving model
    - inability to skip cinema tics
    - bad keyboard support
    - bad UI design decisions, for example place where you can't cancel action until you proceed deeper in choices
    - weak story line
  10. Mar 7, 2014
    1
    the only reason this game is not getting a 0 is because of the art. that aside. WHAT A RIP OFF! in the first part of the game you show the player this big map with all this info on it. but you don't go to any of it! WTF! also the game ends right after it just starts to get going. what the **** where is the rest of the game! you cheap sons of **** don't show off a sick world if you can't go to any of it! its just a big cock tease! no random events= no replay = waste of money! Expand
  11. Mar 17, 2014
    3
    A game shouldn't take longer to download than to complete. Right off the bat that is the biggest problem here. I don't expect every game to be Skyrim in terms of length,but for $50 I expect some decent playtime.

    By the time I started really getting into the game it was over. Aside from that major flaw there are other things that I was generally disappointed by. The actual play is fine
    and I enjoyed the seemingly important decisions but the variety of characters is pathetic. Basically you have archers, small guy with sword, and big guys with swords who either are better at using a shield or hammering enemies. Towards the end of the game you get a single magic user. That's it. Anyone that has played a good tactical RPG just has to be disappointed by that. Look at shining force or final fantasy tactics. A huge variance between character classes with benefits and costs to each.

    On to the enemies, surely a game set in Norse mythology would be rich in bad guys? Nope. Instead we get black robot guy with high armor, bigger black robot guy with high armor, and black robot archer. Again, that's it? Every battle consisted of "ok hit them a few times to lower their armor, then attack".

    I really wanted to like this game and I think if it had been 5x longer with an evolution of fighters and enemies I would have loved it. It's almost like we got a long demo and not a full game. I rarely feel ripped off from a game purchase but this fits the boot for me. I'll pass on whatever game they make next.
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  12. Jun 20, 2014
    4
    The Banner Saga is an excellent, well-narrated cartoon with pretty animations and an interesting plot in a "Choose your own adventure" format. Unfortunately, I am writing a review for something that is supposed to be a game. The Banner Saga is not a game. It is as simple as that.
  13. Apr 8, 2014
    4
    This game has an interesting TBS mechanics, but at the same time has major faults and ends up a mediocre broken game at best.

    First, the tutorial battles push too much info on the player, leaving you confused. I had to re-start the game 3 times until finally I understood how combat works.

    Second, there are multiple problems with game controls. There is no "undo" command, so if you do
    something wrong because you didn't know the rules (e.g. nowhere it's said that "tempest" attack also damages allies), there is no obvious way to replay or reload. The field is scrolled in tablet-style (dragging) and not by pushing the cursor to the edge of the screen. The whole battlefield get cluttered already in the second battle because the units are drawn using fixed-angle isometric 2.5D and overlap. The option to hide banners doesn't really help it. Mouse-over just doesn't exist here, and it would be much easier to play if there were handy tooltips like in Rome Total War 2, for example. But well, obviously the game was designed for tablets. So all hardcore gamers (like myself) have got a clumsy port from iPad or something. Not really fair for the asked $20+ price.

    The third major issue of the game is that the texts were written without any regard to the fact that there will also be non-native speakers (like myself) playing this game. In the first city I found myself failing to understand many of those low-frequency adjectives scattered around almost every phrase. Maybe the writer wanted to show off, but the result is that the text is hard to read (I suppose, even to native-speakers), it looks unnecessarily complex. Combine that with the pile of fantasy-themed names most of which you will see for the first time, and you have an mess of crap which you hardly have desire to dig thru. Even the voice-overs were done with such heavy accent (is it Swedish accent?) that I had to strain myself to understand what they were saying. Btw I'm not that bad in English. I read Fallout 2 texts easily as well as Baldur's Gate's texts, and watch piles of US movies in English without any problems. The runic font used on the map is hard to read, too.

    The forth issue is with graphics. The drawings of the characters in the cutscenes look strikingly worse that the smooth backgrounds.

    On the plus side, the music and sounds are excellent, as well as backgrounds. What this game needs is an overhaul of the controls with more regard to desktop users. Also, someone should go thru all those piles of text you have there, make shorter sentences and replace low-frequency words with normal, high-frequency synonyms. At its current state, the game isn't worth the money and is no fun to play.
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  14. Apr 16, 2014
    3
    This is not a role playing game. There is no role playing involved in it. People should realise that the fact that there are characters with helmets and swords doesn't make a role playing game out of it. It's a tactical combat game. As such, the visuals are good, I like the aesthetical concept. The story could be interesting enough if explored in a role playing game (as it is supposed to be). In the context of a tactical game, I don't care about this narrative. The lack of voice acting is not compensated by the sound score. Expand
  15. Feb 3, 2014
    1
    Awful game is awful... The combat is slow, graphics style is ugly, and worst of all, I have to pay for a game I could already play for free... just plain dropped the ball on this one!
  16. Jul 6, 2014
    3
    Really? I mean really? The video game community is getting insane more and more, praising such a bad game. They write the "game of the year" reviews, scores 10/10 in the Internet, advice it at the every meeting... etc.

    But i hope there is 10% of gamers, which have a good taste and still could determine what is the masterpiece, and what is the average game, which is overrated so much.


    Pros and cons? The art work is good, but not great, and together with pretty well sound they make a fake good impression, which throws sand in your eyes.
    Extremely bad story, which is full of nonsense, cliches, stupid and not interesting characters. The tons of dialogues are so long, bad and silly, that you don't have any emotional connection to the characters. The story "selections" are fake, despite of the developer's statements. Cut scenes are the worst part of game along with copy-paste battles, which doesn't make any sense to enjoy it. Gameplay looks like casual RPG, with no fresh or even good ideas, just upgrade a couple of skills, add some items to your heroes and look after the "caravan", which is useless.

    Don't buy this game, it's so overrated and overpriced, that makes some strange feelings about the whole game industry, which produces for example a better story in shooters, like the last Wolfenstein (seriously!), than in "indie game of mankind" - Banner Saga. I hope more people to have a better art taste and don't just look to some "game experts" silly opinions.
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  17. Jul 4, 2014
    3
    Nice art and music I guess,the rest of the game is dull and boring.Poor game-play , story and options. Do not waste your money on this overhyped garbage!
  18. Jan 31, 2014
    2
    This game sucks!!!!! You start having no idea who you are or what you are doing. after 10 minutes, you just randomly fight people for no reason. No story development or tutorial where they could give you some background. Save your time and buy something better!!!!!
  19. Feb 7, 2014
    3
    Combat- lacks depth, doesn't feel satisfying, very little choice in ways to approach a situation/RPG stat-spending, never gets anywhere (almost every battle plays out the same exact way).

    Story/characters- the story has a lot of depth but is also incredibly depressing and bleak. Characters are a mixed bag but even the well-written ones have the habit of dying very unexpectedly. As far
    as the "choices" during dialogue (80% of the game), none of them have any weight or change the game in a meaningful way.

    Graphics- these look outdated, even for a turn-based game. You can expect the same 5 "overworld" screens, the same 10 paper cutouts for the characters and the same 5-6 arenas for the battles. Thankfully, the cell-shaded art-style helps drag the game out of uncanny valley range.
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  20. Mar 24, 2014
    3
    Oh dear oh dear ..... this game is like a surprising egg without the surprise! If you are having trouble falling asleep, this game might be for you. Looking at the same boring (but cool, at first) arts the whole time, no character or story development at all. Bored the crap out of me and i tried hard to like this game.

    You must have very low standards to give this game a high score.
  21. Jul 18, 2014
    3
    The initial impression given by this game is that it is 'old school' and mysterious. It is beautiful. I distinctly achieved that excited feeling in my belly as the game began. I just knew that this game had been done right, and that I was about to experience one of the greatest moments in gaming history. The feeling persisted until about the third hour of game play, unfortunately. At that point I was waiting, no begging, for new elements to emerge. Then I realized that the game had reached its pentacle and I had experienced everything that the game had to offer.

    The rest of my short experience with this game was a litany of letdowns.

    "Puh-lease don't be another fight!" I found myself saying quite often. The main enemy, these Dredge, are interesting at first, and at second, but ten redundant fights down the line and one begins to ache for an auto-resolve feature.

    Beyond being mind-numbingly similar, once you get the hang of it every fight is ridiculously easy. The game touts the necessary use of items and tactics but I was never challenged by anything that a few shield bangers and warhawks couldn't put down with ease.

    Another deflating feature is the game's map. The map is awesome. One can click on the numerous and varied locations and read all about the game history. As you do so, excitement rises as you wonder which of the many paths you will take... and then you realize that the map has no function other than flavor. And it loads slow.

    The final disappointment to mention, which sadly goes hand in hand with the redundancy of combat, occurs when your band reaches places of "interest". Arriving in villages or cities is at first arousing, and then you realize that the most common options - to "rest", "heroes", "market", or "leave" - are similarly devoid of excitement. My goodness, there is even an option to "train" which gives you a chance to "try out new tactics" in a mock combat. I had a good laugh at this invitation to engage in another boring battle. Really?

    In summary, you'll get as much enjoyment out of this game by watching online trailers and youtube reviews as you will by playing. And save money as well.
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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. May 11, 2014
    85
    Banner Saga is a fine - but towards the end a bit repetitive - turn-based viking adventure. [Feb 2014]
  2. 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]
  3. Mar 9, 2014
    80
    A fantastic combination of fantasy storytelling and RPG tactics. One hell of a debut from Stoic. [Apr 2014, p.62]