- Summary: Live through an epic role-playing Viking saga where your strategic choices directly affect your personal journey. Make allies as you travel with your caravan across this stunning yet harsh landscape. Carefully choose those who will help fight a new threat that jeopardizes an entire civilization.
Jan 20, 2014Banner 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.
Feb 5, 2014With 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.
Jan 16, 2014I enjoyed the game quite a bit. To start off one playthough takes about 10 hours.
Since the game is fairly different than most games on the whole, I figured it'd be easier to point out the similarities it may have with some established games. The game's a little bit like:
Fire Emblem - grid based combat, but individual unit turn-based with a strength as hp mechanic and armor -- you can try out The Banner Saga: Factions, the corresponding free multiplayer game to try the combat,
Oregon Trail - you travel along a fairly linear path making decisions as you go with a caravan nonetheless,
Dragon Age - unlike Fire Emblem series where if you lose a character in combat, you lose him/her in the campaign, in TBS you can only lose characters through decisions you make out of combat -- falling in combat will only injure a unit for the next fight, unless you rest at camp or have enough time pass to heal the injuries,
King of Dragon Pass - the decision system is similar and you will be given chances to wage war, however you only control the army by choosing one command, such as Charge, Formation, Defend, etc. which then prompts a regular combat scenario,
The campaign affects combat in several main ways. Probably most importantly, it affects who you will be able to play as in combat and which encounters will be combat encounters or bypassed through resolution or avoidance. You can add new characters to your party or even accidentally, or purposefully, kill off members of your team.
Next, your caravan morale affects how much willpower your team has starting the match. Willpower allows characters to use their special abilities, deal extra armor break or damage, and to move further in a single turn. If your caravan morale is low, your team will start fights with less than normal willpower, but if they start with high morale, they will receive bonus morale.
Lastly, from making some decisions, you can gain renown (the currency used to level up units and to buy equipment and supplies -- supplies are used to feed your whole caravan and maintain morale).
If you are not familiar with The Banner Saga's combat, I could see it being a fairly difficult game, as common strategic thought is to kill off units rather than leave them maimed and on the board. With TBS's turn-based system, one character takes a turn then control passes to the opponent to move one character. The order of character movement is established before combat and can be changed only by a few special characters once in combat. Although it might seem odd at first, this system requires much more strategy than just going from one side of the board to the other wiping out all enemy units. Each time you kill off an enemy unit, you are giving the opponent an advantage, slight or large dependent on the difference between both sides' total units.
Personally, I now prefer TBS's combat system over other turn-based strategy games.
As you'll see stated in most any other review, TBS is a gorgeous game. The combat is equally good and quite strategic.
The vast and detailed world map shows the scope of the game's world in the classic Tolkien fashion.
The characters and decisions are very impactful. You can lose or gain key characters (and their equipment) based on your decisions. Some decisions will have immediate results, while others may show up long after you've made them.
The biggest issue I had with the game is that it felt lopsided on the decision system. If you made a series of a few bad decisions, you wound up always struggling to get supplies, and on the flipside, if you make a series of good decisions, you have a fairly easy time. This is because all of the systems seem to compound on eachother. I preferred to be struggling, because it kept the tension of survival prominent.
I enjoyed the overall structure of the story and the many decisions I had to make along the way, however the dialogue sometimes was poorly phrased, such as by using modern colloquial slurs. Some characters would use lore-based expressions, while others frequently sounded like they were from the current era.
This was an odd issue. Some character and city names I did not know how to pronounce, and so I didn't commit many characters and places to memory.
Lastly, you're always moving forward, from point A to point B. Once you leave camp or town you continue back on your journey. Instead of directly choosing your destination, you're sent in the general direction the story tells you to go, able to take detours or backtrack only when an event decision occurs.… Expand
Jun 28, 2014Good, but not great. Beautiful graphics, forgettable story, decent tactics. SCORE 81/100.
It's no Fire Emblem Awakening, Final Fantasy Tactics, XCOM, or Advance Wars in terms of tactical depth. There just isn't the tactical depth of those games and there isn't enough variety of units to play with or against. There is no marriages or dynasties or unit interaction.
It has a gritty and dire story, but ultimately forgettable. It just didn't grip me. It needed spoken dialogue (it only has it occasionally as narration) much more often.
It certainly isn't worth full price but probably is on sale if you like turn-based strategy. I love supporting Kickstarter games (I think 12 total, all have been worthy games and I don't regret a single one), and the fact it isn't as good as the big four turn-based strategy games ever (imo), isn't the worst thing in the world.… Expand
Aug 25, 2014Not 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
Feb 24, 2014While 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'.… Expand