User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 557 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 49 out of 557

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  1. 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
    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.
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  2. Mar 9, 2014
    5
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I wanted to like this game. I should have liked this game. But it wasn't much fun.

    I like indies. I like vikings. I like turn-based tactical games. I like deep worlds. I like the art style. All the pieces were right, but they didn't come together into an enjoyable game experience.

    The story violated most of the basic rules of narrative structure. It jumped back and forth between two groups of characters without any sense of how they were connected. I didn't know which characters I was supposed to identify with or care about. Nobody had a character arc. Nobody was on a hero's journey. One character unavoidably lost an arm, while another died at the end. I didn't care. There's a villain to fight at the end, but we never saw much of him or learned much about him. The plot is full of loose threads and unexplained ****

    The devs spent a lot of time on the world map, which was full of elaborate history and descriptions. But the map was slow to load, and it had no impact whatsoever on the gameplay. The game runs on rails. The few times you get an illusion of choice on where to go, the map isn't available to help you decide.

    The Oregon-Trail aspect of the game is a trap for the unwary. You must choose between spending limited points on better stats for your fighters and food for your mass of followers. Metacritic reviewers report that feeding your followers has no impact on the game's outcome. You can apparently let your followers starve and finish the game just fine.

    This game's main strength is the turn-based tactics system, which is distinctive but not very deep. The combat is not tied to any underlying reality. It's not simulating anything. For example, you can attack someone's health, which reduces their ability to do damage and brings them closer to death. Or you can attack their armor, which means that subsequent attacks can do more damage to their health. I couldn't imagine how a warrior could swing a sword one way to break armor, then a different way to damage health. I got no immersion from the combat system. It was just a logic puzzle to be solved. And the final battle is stupidly difficult on normal. I didn't bother finishing it.

    The art is truly beautiful. Kudos to the artist. I didn't mind the many walking scenes that were designed to emphasize the smallness of the characters against the vastness of the wilderness. When the world began to literally fall apart, I felt the loss of beauty. If you don't slow down to enjoy the art, you're missing the best part of the game.
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  3. Jan 21, 2014
    7
    Overall Banner Saga is a good solid game that brings a fresh type of gameplay to an otherwise stale market. Like most players I am a bit more gentle in my expectations for a kickstarter/indie game and I carry that bias here. If this were a big studio game I'd likely give it a 5 or 6 rating.

    The Good: The way the game uses side scrolling and communicate travel is fun and feels new.
    Overall Banner Saga is a good solid game that brings a fresh type of gameplay to an otherwise stale market. Like most players I am a bit more gentle in my expectations for a kickstarter/indie game and I carry that bias here. If this were a big studio game I'd likely give it a 5 or 6 rating.

    The Good: The way the game uses side scrolling and communicate travel is fun and feels new. The map is a great way to communicate the game lore and it has that old school rpg feeling. The combat is fun and fairly simple and easy to understand. I like many of the characters and the world and story are grittier than the Disney-esque graphics would imply.

    The Bad: The story is a bit hard to follow and some of the dialog is confusing. The combat can quickly become repetitive. The stakes of some dialog choices aren't very apparent and more of the outcomes seem canned or forgone than the disclaimer about meaningful choices at the beginning would imply.

    Overall I think this is a solid buy and a fun game, you will enjoy it even more if you can keep in mind the indie nature of it.
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  4. Mar 13, 2014
    5
    The artwork of the game is not only unique but lovely. The problem with the game is the actual game play itself, as far as that is concerned it falls on its face pretty hard. Plane, lackluster and quite honestly just bad is how I would describe the game play of this turn based RPG. There is so little to it and managing your units along with your travels almost seem like an afterthoughtThe artwork of the game is not only unique but lovely. The problem with the game is the actual game play itself, as far as that is concerned it falls on its face pretty hard. Plane, lackluster and quite honestly just bad is how I would describe the game play of this turn based RPG. There is so little to it and managing your units along with your travels almost seem like an afterthought to the artwork, there are also multiple problems with the food and currency system that make it seem not well thought out. The story also ends rather abruptly too. So to recap, the art is good the rest is bad. Expand
  5. Jan 26, 2014
    7
    It's a pretty good game, but pick it up on sale. $25 is a bit much.

    The good: - Tactically it's a challenge to get through battles without taking casualties. - Caravan's need food and food gets scarce real fast - Decisions have a variety of consequences and vary in importance: sometimes you can make the wrong choice and people just shrug it off, or the right choice and get only a
    It's a pretty good game, but pick it up on sale. $25 is a bit much.

    The good:
    - Tactically it's a challenge to get through battles without taking casualties.
    - Caravan's need food and food gets scarce real fast
    - Decisions have a variety of consequences and vary in importance: sometimes you can make the wrong choice and people just shrug it off, or the right choice and get only a small boost to morale. Other times it could be the difference between life and death for a well developed character. I like it because I appreciate a bit of triviality in world building.

    The bad:
    - Supply management is largely meaningless. There's no reason not to let a few folks starve if it means leveling up or getting a new item. Hell, by the end people are marching along the Trail of Tears anyway.
    - Alternating turns in combat. It's not too bad, and it certainly can be viewed as just another strategic element, but the more I think about it the less I like it.
    - Game length is short. Like... really short. I was expecting a lot more for the price and the hype.

    The Ugly:
    - There's very little replay value in this game when it comes to plot, decisions, etc. You've got 2 possible endings and it's pretty obvious how they play out.
    - There's also no post-finale game play. No roaming the world trying to visit other villages, no going back to places you've been, nothing. It's linear as hell.
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  6. Jan 31, 2014
    7
    Slow game, good story and awesome graphics. I enjoyed the tactical battles very much.

    It does somewhat fails at the game-play - I am not a fan of linear games. I am sure the dev's next title will be worthwhile.
  7. Jan 26, 2014
    7
    I'd been waiting for this game since the kickstarter. The Scenic backdrops are really beautiful though i think the character art leaves something to be desired. Its kinda like Oregon trail with turn based fights. The story is good though i was expecting it to be better. The actual turn based fights are getting pretty repetitive (fighting the same enemies over and over), but they are stillI'd been waiting for this game since the kickstarter. The Scenic backdrops are really beautiful though i think the character art leaves something to be desired. Its kinda like Oregon trail with turn based fights. The story is good though i was expecting it to be better. The actual turn based fights are getting pretty repetitive (fighting the same enemies over and over), but they are still pretty fun and the additional strategy elements involving enemy and character placement on the board is interesting. All in all, the game is a solid good play, with a good story, and some good strategy. Expand
  8. Jan 18, 2014
    6
    A good game. Yes the graphics and music are amazing but what makes a game good is game play and replay value. This game has no replay value at all and can be easily completed in a casual day or two. The game mechanics are very over and over again style: You watch tiny characters walk across a backdrop for 30 seconds, then either a "interactive" dialogue box pops up (which doesn't have muchA good game. Yes the graphics and music are amazing but what makes a game good is game play and replay value. This game has no replay value at all and can be easily completed in a casual day or two. The game mechanics are very over and over again style: You watch tiny characters walk across a backdrop for 30 seconds, then either a "interactive" dialogue box pops up (which doesn't have much effect on the game play), or you get into a battle with guys in armor. The story is alright but my big complaint is the repetitious game play and the fact the you only fight two kinds of enemies: giants & vikings, or the weird black armor guys.

    I would have like to see them travel on the map without rail-roading me one way on the map. I never felt in control of the game that much. The character development (stats, etc.) didn't run very deep either. I felt like leveling them up wasn't exciting or a big deal. It felt to me that I was more worried about running out of supplies than being challenged in combat, etc.

    This game has all the earmarks of becoming a spectacular game but it needs to be less linear and have much more depth both in combat, character leveling, exploration, etc. But for now, it feels like a half-baked indie title that's all eye and ear candy with no actual filling. The price of $25 on steam for this game I think is also a bit high considering how small in scope it is. As it stands this game should be selling for under $10.

    So in short I applaud their efforts but its needs to be filled out more and definitely a better "last battle" that is longer than 2 minutes to play.
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  9. Mar 8, 2014
    6
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. The banner saga is not a bad game.i enjoyed playing the game although i was never been able to finish it because of the last battle i tried many times yet all there was is failure.
    The good : the game soundtrack and the artwork were amazing,the fights were actually pretty good and i was impressed by all strategies you could make .
    Now the bad :the story started pretty slow and most of the time i was reading texts and choosing random answers.The game says that you can choose your destiny but all i saw was answers that lead to the same result********spoiler:for example onef betrayal left me in frustration and rage*******.the game difficulty was pretty good until i reached the end of the game where i was left helpless against the enemy(and why the **** must alette join the fight???)

    IN the end the game is pretty good but as you progress through the game you just start hating the game!!!
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  10. Mar 17, 2014
    7
    If you are familiar with these type of games; you will learn the gameplay in 30 mins, you will like it as you play for 2 hours, but you will be disappointed after 8 - 10 hours of play because the game will over.It is too short but there is a dillema that if this game will be longer this time it will be boring(repeated playing).
    General; Graphics 9, Gameplay 8, AI 7, Stickness 5. If you
    If you are familiar with these type of games; you will learn the gameplay in 30 mins, you will like it as you play for 2 hours, but you will be disappointed after 8 - 10 hours of play because the game will over.It is too short but there is a dillema that if this game will be longer this time it will be boring(repeated playing).
    General; Graphics 9, Gameplay 8, AI 7, Stickness 5. If you like to spend 10 hour of fun then buy this one, if not,be sure you wont miss anything.
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  11. Jan 19, 2014
    5
    Like many other people, i really wanted to like this game. So, I started playing it with a very positive attitude but that didn't last long. I have to admit that the game looks good but once your initial amazement with looks is over, there's nothing else left to make you want to play this game. Dialogues are very shallow, characters are not so interesting. Yes, there are choices but theyLike many other people, i really wanted to like this game. So, I started playing it with a very positive attitude but that didn't last long. I have to admit that the game looks good but once your initial amazement with looks is over, there's nothing else left to make you want to play this game. Dialogues are very shallow, characters are not so interesting. Yes, there are choices but they don't really seem to impact the game significantly. Battle screen offers nothing new and very repetitive. (It really needs hexagons, squares limit the options)

    In another year, a turn based RPG might be intriguing, but 2014 is the "Year of the turn-based RPG", so I'd suggest you keep your money for the upcoming games like Wasteland, D:Original Sin, Blackguards, Age of Decadence..
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  12. Feb 11, 2014
    5
    There is more reading than actual fighting and developing your skills as a strategist and as a fighter.
    After few hours you will find this boring and annoying that you actually spent 20$ on it.
    I don't find even a single character to be fun or interesting and that tells me that these characters don't have much depth in them. You are probably better off trying some other game than this.
  13. Mar 26, 2014
    6
    This game proves once again that just like with movies tragedies are overrated. Don't get me wrong it is a fun little game but merely having a tragic story does mean a game deserves high marks.

    Pros: Great plot, dynamic story that changes based on your decisions, 4 + decisions to every situation, simple but fun strategic combat system, simple character skill tree and item equipment
    This game proves once again that just like with movies tragedies are overrated. Don't get me wrong it is a fun little game but merely having a tragic story does mean a game deserves high marks.

    Pros: Great plot, dynamic story that changes based on your decisions, 4 + decisions to every situation, simple but fun strategic combat system, simple character skill tree and item equipment options, tense moments as you are forced to decide between upgrading your characters or buying food to feed your people.

    Cons: To be continued ending (this is getting old), imagine getting a great 10 chapter book but then having it taken away after the first chapter ends, depressing game (if you like getting punched in the stomach or getting kicked in the groin repeatedly then put this in the Pros section).

    $5
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  14. Aug 25, 2014
    7
    Not really a Viking X-Com I was hoping for, but definitely interesting and unique piece well worth playing. The start is a bit slow, game is doing quite a poor job in immersing you right away in it's story, throwing tons of viking names at you, not really knowing who you are or what's going on, but you slowly get a grip, learn the game mechanics, and by the time the story switches from theNot really a Viking X-Com I was hoping for, but definitely interesting and unique piece well worth playing. The start is a bit slow, game is doing quite a poor job in immersing you right away in it's story, throwing tons of viking names at you, not really knowing who you are or what's going on, but you slowly get a grip, learn the game mechanics, and by the time the story switches from the viking bunch to the eastern storyline with the dad and daughter, things get much better. Challenging turn-based tactical battles, beautiful visuals and amazing music. Very unique flavor is gathered in the sections of the game where your caravan is traveling the beautiful northern lands, visiting old god stones, where you have to make important decisions, quite a memorable adventure there. Despite it's slow start, quite short length overall and some of the budget shortcomings such as no voice-overs, I was pretty happy with The Banner Saga in the end. 7/10 Expand
  15. Feb 12, 2014
    5
    I've never played a game with more unfinished brilliant ideas than the banners saga. It's unspectacular by every metric as a stand alone game, but I look forward to seeing if the sequels can pull something together.
  16. Mar 13, 2014
    6
    On a scale of 1 to 10 I would give this game a 6. Would be 8 or 9 if not for all the bugs.

    Pros: Unique visual style, cool animations. Tactical combat is fun and challenging. Compelling story with interesting characters. Price is reasonable. Cons: Very short; you can finish in a few hours. Lots of minor but annoying bugs. One almost game-breaking bug in the final boss fight. The game
    On a scale of 1 to 10 I would give this game a 6. Would be 8 or 9 if not for all the bugs.

    Pros: Unique visual style, cool animations. Tactical combat is fun and challenging. Compelling story with interesting characters. Price is reasonable.

    Cons: Very short; you can finish in a few hours. Lots of minor but annoying bugs. One almost game-breaking bug in the final boss fight. The game has been patched many times since release; some bugs have been fixed, but many have not been fixed. That means this is unfinished software, so if you buy it you are paying for the privilege of being a Beta tester.

    Nevertheless, the game is good fun, so I am recommending it... barely. Just be aware of both the Pros and the Cons. Make an informed choice.
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  17. Mar 19, 2014
    6
    Due to several design flaws, what could have been one of the greatest strategy rpg's of all time is instead not quite playable. The graphics and sound are both amazing. The vikings theme mixed with beautiful, classic Disney animation styled characters and unique, stylized backdrops make for an incredible experience...at least at first. Unfortunately after a few hours several criticalDue to several design flaws, what could have been one of the greatest strategy rpg's of all time is instead not quite playable. The graphics and sound are both amazing. The vikings theme mixed with beautiful, classic Disney animation styled characters and unique, stylized backdrops make for an incredible experience...at least at first. Unfortunately after a few hours several critical design flaws start to become apparent.

    The core of the battle system is solid, centering around a unique strength versus armor mechanic which in itself is very fun. The problems I have with the game, however, all concern things that happen outside the battles.

    There is lack of real customability, not just in the development of your characters, but also in having any ability to choose which characters to use at any given time. The story shuffles back and forth between character groups and at certain points the game sticks you with a new group . Outside of battle I never feel like I have any real control.

    You never seem to get to really build a customized party of your choice and often when you've found a nice solid character that you like, you'll be presented with a series of dialog options after a battle and upon choosing the wrong one, the game will seemingly arbitrarily kill the character off. This is extremely frustrating, not just because the choices presented give you no real sense of what the results will be (you often feel like you're rolling dice to see who dies), but even more infuriatingly, the game is built on a secretive auto-save system that makes going back and retrying your choices almost impossible.

    When you reach certain invisible points the game will secretly save and then delete all your saves going back several hours. There's no choosing when to save and there's no saving mid battle. The only way to tell when the game has saved is to bring up the load menu and check the time of the last save. The designers clearly want the player to keep playing and then live with their choices and failures. This style of play may work for some, but I'm something of a perfectionist and it just frustrates me.

    Another problem I have is with the way characters level up. Characters are rewarded with renown points after each kill and once a character has enough kills, they'll be ready for promotion. The problem is you have to spend renown points to complete the level up process and I find I only ever have enough points to level up one out of every four or so characters who are ready for a promotion. These points are also used to purchase supplies and equipment, but given how little there are for leveling up, using them for this purpose always seems foolish. Adding to this frustration is that often I'll spend almost all my points from one battle to level up a character only to have that character randomly die 15 minutes later when I choose the wrong dialog options. Also, points toward promotion are only awarded for kills making offensive characters far easier to level up than defensive ones.

    So despite such a solid battle system and beautiful artwork, I find this game more frustrating than fun.
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  18. Jan 17, 2014
    6
    An excellent start to the game. Great setting characters and gameplay. Unfortunately about 2/3 of the way through the weaknesses show.

    1) The game needs more varied music and voice acting, during dialogue all is silent and it feels boring 2) Watching the caravan all the time? After 5 hours this feel necessary.. 3) The caravan supply/renown currency system is broken. It needs to be
    An excellent start to the game. Great setting characters and gameplay. Unfortunately about 2/3 of the way through the weaknesses show.

    1) The game needs more varied music and voice acting, during dialogue all is silent and it feels boring
    2) Watching the caravan all the time? After 5 hours this feel necessary..
    3) The caravan supply/renown currency system is broken. It needs to be rethought or patched. As it currently stands by the last 1/3 of the game you lose all immersion because you have 0 opportunity to buy new supplies and all your supplies get taken in random events, so you watch your people drop like flies. This unfortunately makes the nice visuals when crossing the plains just feel like you're watching a slide show before the next battle.

    4) Due to the above the difficulty curve gets vast by the end game - maybe I was playing it wrong but the game should throw much more supplies t you towards the end...
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  19. Jan 16, 2014
    7
    This review is in what state the current game is right now. The Banner Saga is beautiful tactical rpg with great elements from Oregon Trail and a refreshing mature story that knows mature isn't in the amount of sex or gore, but the content of the story. The characters are most of the time very engrossing and wonderfully flawed. And most importantly this game offers a wide arrange of veryThis review is in what state the current game is right now. The Banner Saga is beautiful tactical rpg with great elements from Oregon Trail and a refreshing mature story that knows mature isn't in the amount of sex or gore, but the content of the story. The characters are most of the time very engrossing and wonderfully flawed. And most importantly this game offers a wide arrange of very hard choices with very dire consequences.

    However this game is held back by the story being a very clear part 1 of a trilogy, but Stoic Studios has repeatedly said that part 2 is not even sure to be made, as it is heavily dependent on the upcoming sales. Secondly this game has great replayability potential, but as of yet you are only allowed to have one playthrough saved at the time. So if you wish to keep your first playthrough for the possible sequel, then you won't be able to replay the game. This design choice is absolutely insane.

    However when all has been said; The Banner Saga is easily worth the 20€ or your regional equivalent and offers an engrossing and rare experience. When and if the sequel is announced and the save file issue has been solved, this game may be on the top 10 of games I have played, and I dearly hope Stoic gets the success they deserve.
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  20. Feb 24, 2014
    5
    While the setting and overall idea is ingenious, I felt the story of the game didn't do it justice as it felt shallow and rushed. Perhaps I simply had too great of expectations from the story, as it ended up feeling like a storyline from older Final Fantasy games - big evil comes, engulfs the world, got to find someone who can stop it and there is a lot of sacrifice on the way.

    The
    While the setting and overall idea is ingenious, I felt the story of the game didn't do it justice as it felt shallow and rushed. Perhaps I simply had too great of expectations from the story, as it ended up feeling like a storyline from older Final Fantasy games - big evil comes, engulfs the world, got to find someone who can stop it and there is a lot of sacrifice on the way.

    The gameplay was most problematic at first - at the beginning, I liked both difficulty and variety of character skills..until the variety died out, and each anoher battle felt exactly the same. The experience-per-kill system later on forced me to only use characters that I have leveled up, instead of using interesting combinations.

    But my biggest issue is with the savegame system. A player can only save if he stops for a camp - it was probably done so people wouldn't save during battles and before making decisions, but people have lives and they sometimes can't finish a battle because they need to go somewhere or are simply tired - so a 20 minute fight has to be suddenly started over because I can't save. And those battles are long because the animations take a bit of time.

    All in all, I have a rather mixed feelings about the game - its not a game I would recommend to anyone, but at the same time, I'm far from calling it 'bad'.
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  21. Jan 24, 2014
    7
    It's like a modern day Oregon Trail with a fantasy-themed backdrop and a Tactics-based battle system, though it lacked the depth of either. The art and scenes are nice, though the animation and voice work was minimal. The strongest point of the game is the decisions you are presented with, throughout the game, that can affect the story and characters you have, which was really well-done -It's like a modern day Oregon Trail with a fantasy-themed backdrop and a Tactics-based battle system, though it lacked the depth of either. The art and scenes are nice, though the animation and voice work was minimal. The strongest point of the game is the decisions you are presented with, throughout the game, that can affect the story and characters you have, which was really well-done - there are some great moral dilemmas and little story arcs to be had, though I unfortunately found the main story line somewhat underwhelming, if not flat at times, considering this felt like it should've been a strong point of the game.

    If I were rating relatively, this indie game is a point or two higher; but I feel the game very nearly misses on all marks riddled with some minor flaws here and there such as the inability to manually save, paired with the fact that the game doesn't tell you when it saves. I felt like it could've been great, but it settled for good. What really saves it is how different it is from your standard "RPG" titles you see now days. The deviation from the normal formula is a definitive breath of fresh air.
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  22. Jan 17, 2014
    5
    I backed this game on Kickstarter very early on, basically after having read the words "turn based strategy" and "vikings" and had very high hopes for the project.
    During the first hour of play I was thouroughly impressed with the artwork, the graphical style, the music and the combat system. It runs well, I encountered no major bugs, and the story starts very intense and engrossing.
    I backed this game on Kickstarter very early on, basically after having read the words "turn based strategy" and "vikings" and had very high hopes for the project.
    During the first hour of play I was thouroughly impressed with the artwork, the graphical style, the music and the combat system. It runs well, I encountered no major bugs, and the story starts very intense and engrossing.
    Now, after nearing the end of my first (and, most likely, only) playthrough I can sum up my personal experience with a single sentence: I learned to *thoroughly* hate this game.
    I'm terribly sorry, I desperately wanted to like this, but with every tedious, frustrating and boring hour of gameplay I had to concede, that just about *every* design choice made by Stoic seems to go diametrically against my personal preferences.
    Trying to cast an objective vote, i give it a 5, because there are undoubtedly many things good about the game, but the essence of what it's about - having fun, being motivated and enjoying the time spent playing - simply doesn't happen.
    TBS is the very definition of a railroaded game. More than that, it actually *feels* like more than half of the time I'm actually watching pointless, endlessly repeating nice backgrounds scrolling past, while nothing happens. Events are scarce, and when they happen, they kill my motivation and the RPG aspect. Because, frankly, I'm NOT making decisions. I'm playing a random guessing game, in most cases with absolutely *no* clue on what the consequences of the 4 "choose your answer" alternatives *might* even be. I hate playing a game where I don't even know the rules, and I hate winning every battle and then losing my heroes to random dialogue events.
    The world map is like a bad joke on my expense, as it serves absolutely *no* function in the game but as a "choose your flavour text" library. It feels like there's an entire aspect of the game simply never implemented here...
    Same goes for character development and resource management. Both are oversimplified, shallow and simply feel completely unfinished. Each character has one single item slot, and the items available are nothing special. Abilities are pretty much predetermined, and dividing 10 points you *might* receive during 5 ranks isn't that big a deal.
    There is one single resource for everything (renown) and one single sure way to acquire it (by killing enemies in combat). Sometimes you might draw a lucky card during the random dialogue guessing game and acquire some extra, but that's it. As the resource is used to buy supplies, items *and* for leveling up your heroes, it comes down to either have your caravan starve or run around with level 1 heroes, despite them having earned several promotions on the battlefield. That kills motivation on such an epic scale, and can't even begin to describe it.
    There are no side quest, no method to forage for food, trade, to gain extra renown or anything - remember, you are on one long, single track railway and never look left or right. You will *never* feel in control of *anything* in this game. For me, however, that is what gaming should be about.
    Even the combat system, one of the best parts otherwise, has several unnerving flaws that started bothering me in the long run:
    - You are forced to choose your team *and* the sequence in which they act *before* you know anything about the enemies you will face. Why is there even a deployment phase at the begin of combat if all you do there is arrange the predetermined team on the board? That placement will be void after one round of movement, a wrong party mix or suboptimal sequence will stay, however.
    - the way the two sides take turns is beyond silly. If you face a single, strong opponent, that one will act 6 times for every ONCE your heroes do something, as it's always the *sides* that take turns.
    - one stat for hitpoints AND combat effectiveness basically means, that the battles are decided in the first round. The side that starts taking hits is the side that will lose. Always. Without a way to regain strength, a single hit can de facto disable a hero.
    So, again, sorry Stoic for being so negative, but this game is so totally NOT my piece of cake. Terrific art, great lore, good music and a stable game do NOT equal fun, I'm afraid. Lots of bad design choices for me equal de-motivation, tedium, boredom and frustration. Others might love this game, I can't, I'm afraid.
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  23. Feb 1, 2014
    7
    The Banner Saga tells a sad story, based on Norse legends. The graphics and music are beautiful. There are a few innovative elements in the battle gameplay, but overall, it just gets in the way. I started on Normal difficulty, but dropped to Easy once I realized that the story is what I cared about in the game. It provided about 12 hours of enjoyment.
  24. Jan 17, 2014
    6
    The Banner Saga (TBS) is a story driven tactical RPG. As a long time lover of the tactical rpg genre (FF:Tactics, Fire Emblem, Disgaea), TBS was a bit of a letdown. While having great artwork, the gameplay itself is very barebone.

    Story: Underwhelming. The story is basically the characters need to arrive at a certain predetermined location and most of the game takes place before
    The Banner Saga (TBS) is a story driven tactical RPG. As a long time lover of the tactical rpg genre (FF:Tactics, Fire Emblem, Disgaea), TBS was a bit of a letdown. While having great artwork, the gameplay itself is very barebone.

    Story: Underwhelming. The story is basically the characters need to arrive at a certain predetermined location and most of the game takes place before arriving there. Also, you're controlling two different parties, so the game will force you to move on to the other party's story even when you don't want to. Oh, finally getting into that party's story? Too bad, we're moving back to the first party. Too bad if you already forgot what they were about.

    Characters: Most of them are one-dimensional and fill a very specific personality in the party. For example, there's a character that has a crush on one of the female character, and the whole gist of him is, "I want to protect her". That's it. There's really no emotional attachment to them, and the only reason you want them alive is just to feel complete.

    Dialogue: False sense of choice. There are some choices that change the story, but most of the choices you make are very linear and most end up arriving at the same answer no matter what you choose. For example, you're trying to enter a castle. You can go by a water passage, or just push the gate. Either way, you end up fighting a group of humans and enter the castle.

    Art: The artwork is amazing. However, the way it's utilized makes you let out a sigh. The characters during dialogue scenes are emotionless and are basically copy pasted over and over. The background pulls you in at first, but the endless snow and blue sky becomes dull after the first hour. Very minimal animation as well (probably due to lack of budget) where there needs to be some.

    Gameplay: Very unbalanced. Some of your characters are statistically worse than others where there really is no point in using them. Game itself is very barebone. Strength/Hp, Armor, 1 active/passive Skill per character. That's really it. Compared to others in the same genre, it's really underwhelming. Also, you're only able to move one character at a time (You-NPC-You-NPC-etc.), which is somewhat unique in the genre and might not suit you.

    Menu: Atrocious. Can only turn sound and music on/off; no scale. You also cannot save whenever you want; the game saves for you. No resolution options; only fullscreen or windowed.

    This game could have been better if it was worked on longer, but I'm assuming they ran out of money. However, the core of the game -the gameplay- is very lacking and I feel like what it currently is is what they were going for. This game rides on it's artwork only right now, and I hope at least the story gets better in the sequel.
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  25. Jan 23, 2014
    6
    It's too short. For $30 it's way too short. I honestly felt like I had only played 25% of a game when it ended.

    You can tell the people behind the game have a ton of innovative ideas and impeccable style, but this needed to be fleshed out.
  26. Jan 19, 2014
    6
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. This game is incomplete. It is 6 hours, maybe, of looking at a line of people slowly walk from one side of your screen to the other (not including clicking to move story along.) Reading and thinking your actions through will add more time depending on the player. Most of the game's time is unskippable filler. Don't wanna call an indie game's filler filler, but that is what it is.

    You are responsible for that line of mostly civilians, some fighters and in Varl (the game's name for horned Viking giants) chapters: a prince. Meaning you have to make sure they don't starve by making wise decisions. The people will starve easy. It is a chore. Leading the Varl, though, is actually pretty good, as you have supplies and a reliable horde of enemies to entertain you with battle.

    The turn-based battle system is really good and carries this game. Playable characters and enemies have stats. One can see the 2 more important of enemies' stats, their Strength and their Armor. Strength is both your health points and your damage output. Armor is damage block. Combatants can reduce each if in range; and armor damage output is itself a stat, not reduced by anything.

    I find an effective strat is to have 1 designated guy lower the strongest enemy's armor, then have a high strength guy do a lot of damage. Of coarse, sometimes the obstacle is a lot of low stat enemies in which case diverse stats or lineups is good. Also I tend to prefer combatants that can exert 3 units because that allows them to move around from enemy to enemy faster. Several varl cannot do this.

    What I really would enjoy is a just-the-battles mode. Like Witcher 2's Arena. Or DBZ Legendary Super Warrior's battle mode.

    After battles you get Renown which you can cash in for Upgrades on your PCs' stats; food supplies for your followers; or items you like at shops that can be equipped to PCs for extra effect (things like +stats, knockback, rolls for 2x dmg, etc.) Because this is scarce, it means you shouldn't upgrade every Hero (your Playable Character) for its own sake. You have to consider your followers starving, specifically on the human chapters. Again, Varl, don't seen to have that problem.

    This also means that you should get in fights a bit since kills are what get you the Renown. This that show good leadership get you Renown occasionally. And it is considered good leadership to not get your followers massacred, so every decision can be justified; at times, every decision is punished, anyway; perhaps outcomes are dice rolled though? I havent tested. Test does not interest me because going through the story is so slow. It might be an anti-war message the way they make even just political expeditions with battles boring.

    Characters are pretty meh. This will be the last I write, so if you absolutely do not want spoilers, don't scroll down. But in any case those who haven't play should know that in this game anything can happen. It will go Game of Thrones on your ass. No one is off limits. No one. Not even the person it says you are in the story. you can get your ass killed. Anyway, down for a few words on the characters.

    Allette, the human clan leader's daughter, is ok as a character. She doesn't like killing. A lot of the women in this game are strong independent black women who don't need no men. She's just a young adult and will ask for duty from her father when the time is right because she thinks she is a better archer and can do with very limited resources much better. She can go through a lot. It is pretty bad though that it is through concern of her well-being is how you experience those human chapters. Meaning that a lot can happen to her and you only focus on her and you don't really meet many of the people you lead. This is also a theme in that you can choose to do whatever it takes for your specific clan to survive (us vs them.) Sometimes you don't even choose who can join you; sometimes the game tricks you into adopting more mouths to feed. But that's another topic.

    Odd, the late captain's wife, taught the human clan leader apparent's daughter archery and in the story can teach more women. She isnt seem so much in the story but is pretty agreeable. She would make for a good romance were this a dragon age game. Speaking of which a political union could have kept her in power, with Rook, clan leader as a puppet. Not an option in the game, but could be tried in Chapter 2? Fingers crossed. Though she did say she got her husband no children, who knows if that wasn't his fault.

    Iver is a good friend, normally has good advice, takes orders, and does his duty even when its daily battles with real danger or facing a known immortal enemy. You find out about something he did in his past that he's not proud of but earned him respect among his kind, even more than their king to some. More on this guy not war related would be good.

    Word cap.
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  27. Jan 15, 2014
    7
    I haven't finished it yet - but on the gameplay alone side it feels very different and unique. It gets off at a cracking pace, so you might be a bit lost at first but the tactics are quick to learn difficult to master and incredibly satisfying once you pull off more difficult situations.
    Takes a little while to start putting together who is who and what is happening - so at first you
    I haven't finished it yet - but on the gameplay alone side it feels very different and unique. It gets off at a cracking pace, so you might be a bit lost at first but the tactics are quick to learn difficult to master and incredibly satisfying once you pull off more difficult situations.
    Takes a little while to start putting together who is who and what is happening - so at first you might not feel much connection with the characters or the story - but after a while a case of the 'one more turn' syndrome kicks in. You'll be watching those supplies and weighing up promotions, supplies and items while juggling the story decisions and their potential impacts.
    Well worth the price - with the only faults being in animation and voiced dialogue (the lack of it).
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  28. Feb 15, 2014
    7
    Liked the story but even on normal difficulty the dredge were taking huge mechanical **** all over my guys and killing them in 1-2 hits constantly. Not sure what I was doing wrong as I am an RPG veteran and skilled player (Silver in LoL and beat Skyrim on medium hard difficulty) so I usually do quite well at this sort of thing.
  29. Apr 21, 2014
    5
    Guess all those high scores are because BS looks awesome for an indy game, but what a torture it just was!.. Dialogs in a bottom of a screen, when you see perfectly painted character fullscreen and a smallest line showing who's talking now, and it's some other guy. And your sight jumping from picture to one small line of text and then to another, thying to fix whole picture. HOW can youGuess all those high scores are because BS looks awesome for an indy game, but what a torture it just was!.. Dialogs in a bottom of a screen, when you see perfectly painted character fullscreen and a smallest line showing who's talking now, and it's some other guy. And your sight jumping from picture to one small line of text and then to another, thying to fix whole picture. HOW can you hit armour without damaging one who'd wearing it? Was it platformer-like view, of a 2d top-down map view? For 15 minutes i've just seen tons of text jumping on me from all sides of the screen. Seems like game designer just hates people, while still work of artists and animators is awesome. Sure I'll give it one more try, just need to heal my eyes a bit. Expand
  30. Jan 22, 2014
    7
    First off, I'll say I mostly enjoyed this game and played it through while putting it down very infrequently. The music is excellent, the story somewhat compelling, the world is very creative and unique and the art is fantastic.

    Unfortunately there are a few glaring issues that may make this a dealbreaker for some. For others it may just be painful knowing how much potential this game
    First off, I'll say I mostly enjoyed this game and played it through while putting it down very infrequently. The music is excellent, the story somewhat compelling, the world is very creative and unique and the art is fantastic.

    Unfortunately there are a few glaring issues that may make this a dealbreaker for some. For others it may just be painful knowing how much potential this game has.

    As much as I tried, I am not a fan of the combat system. It is a very unique (and strange) take on turn based combat. Each side takes turns moving a single unit. What this means is that every time you kill an enemy unit, the remaining units get "extra turns," which can lead to you inadvertently "hasting" powerful enemies after killing weaker ones. This can be somewhat circumvented by "disabling" units using the strength system. In Banner Saga, units have two meters, armor and strength. Strength-armor=strength damage, or you can choose to attack someones armor. This leads to a very strange dynamic where if any of your characters are damaged they become serious dead weights. Even with some leveled up characters by the end of the game fights still took a decent chunk of time, and never really felt satisfying.

    The other major part of the gameplay is the "caravan." You basically watch your caravan traveling across the world and random events pop up giving you choices. As a huge King Of Dragon Pass fan I picked this game up immediately based on reports that it had some similar elements. After playing through the game I don't really think this is a valid comparison. King of dragon pass used a unique system during their "dialogue choice" scenes where you can select every member of your ring to give you advice and hints on what each different option will do. This at least gives you a little direction during these scenes. Also (usually), if you "fail" one of these scenes the results penalize you in what seemed like a fair way that you could recover from given some time. Banner Saga on the other hand gives you choices with sometimes random outcomes. For example there are quite a few scenes where the wrong choice can end in a permanent character death and you just never see it coming. This type of random punishment is a little upsetting especially if you've been leveling a character or are attached to their play style.

    Also as part of the caravan you have several fighters and refugees with you that rely on you purchasing supplies to feed them with "renown." This leads to a couple of issues. First, there doesn't really seem to be any purpose, upside or reward for having people in your caravan. Reportedly all battles are scaled to how many warriors you have, so that doesn't really make a big difference, and having more refugees just means more mouths to feed with no real change in story, rewards or outcome. Also, the currency in the game, "renown," is a little too scarce, making you choose between feeding your caravan, buying items or leveling characters. Between buying useless items, losing leveled characters and unclear purpose from having anyone in your caravan the system is a little disappointing.

    I definitely think the game is worth giving a shot, as it is very beautiful and entertaining if you can overlook its flaws. I hope for the next installment combat is seriously revamped, that there is meat added on to the "caravan" mode and that the dialogue choice system gives choices with slightly more predictable outcomes.
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  31. Apr 8, 2014
    6
    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
    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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  32. Jan 28, 2014
    5
    Didn't expect much, not disappointed. Just bored. Couldn't they have voiced the dialogues? It feels like reading a fantasy novel that you dont care about, i found myself skipping dialogues entirely, that was sad. But not as sad as the art, its mediocre at best. A wasted opportunity to create a beautiful and original style. I dont know about the combat or any gameplay features, because iDidn't expect much, not disappointed. Just bored. Couldn't they have voiced the dialogues? It feels like reading a fantasy novel that you dont care about, i found myself skipping dialogues entirely, that was sad. But not as sad as the art, its mediocre at best. A wasted opportunity to create a beautiful and original style. I dont know about the combat or any gameplay features, because i just barely sit through the tutorial but from what i know its not bad. World map looks huge. Probably some interesting quests await but i think i'll pass. Expand
  33. May 24, 2014
    5
    Really fun game but BE WARNED! There is no saving during battle or in between battle phases and crashes can happen directly after a fight when you win, making you replay the entire thing over. This happened to me on the final boss (who is a real pain and a half, not to mention thoroughly plain as far as final battles go) and I would have happily given this game a 10 but the crashes areReally fun game but BE WARNED! There is no saving during battle or in between battle phases and crashes can happen directly after a fight when you win, making you replay the entire thing over. This happened to me on the final boss (who is a real pain and a half, not to mention thoroughly plain as far as final battles go) and I would have happily given this game a 10 but the crashes are INEXCUSABLE, especially right after a fight that takes easily 30-45 min a TRY!!! Expand
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]