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Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critic Reviews What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 126 Ratings

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  • Summary: The Banner Saga is a single player driven Viking saga in which a player’s choice in travel, conversation and combat determines the outcome of her own personal story as well as the survival of an entire civilization.


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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. Jan 11, 2016
    An impressive RTS that offers a well written story, magnificent visuals and a stunning soundtrack that will stay with you long after playing.
  2. 85
    The combat, while a little uneven difficulty-wise across the game’s campaign, nevertheless manages to hit the sweet spot between simple accessibility and strategic depth.
  3. Jan 18, 2016
    Despite its confusing beginning, we want to keep walking these northern lands like our heroes: suffering all kinds of hardships, but with a light heart.
  4. Jan 15, 2016
    Two years after its’ premiere The Banner Saga still is a creative example for a well conceived mix of art design, storytelling and turn-based tactics well worth an award – this is chess with drama, battles and consequences. But technical problems and the occasional bug make sure show that the console version is not as polished as the PC brother – too bad.
  5. Jan 27, 2016
    The strategy battles are addictive and feature many different units with unique abilities. If you are a patient person that likes this type of lore and gameplay style, The Banner Saga delivers on what it set out to accomplish.
  6. Jan 22, 2016
    Stoic’s tactical RPG The Banner Saga makes its way to consoles, and still manages to deliver a fantastic, captivating story alongside a fun and challenging battle system.
  7. Jan 12, 2016
    Some of the most difficult decision-making in gaming, both tactically and morally, but occasional rough edges betray the game’s small budget and short development time.

See all 21 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 22
  2. Negative: 1 out of 22
  1. Oct 15, 2021
    A remarkable game. It is a mixture of a strategic RPG and survival management. The mixture of this made a challenging gameplay with lot ofA remarkable game. It is a mixture of a strategic RPG and survival management. The mixture of this made a challenging gameplay with lot of hard decision. Also the art style, soundtrack and graphics are unique and enhance the immersion. The world is inspired by Nordic aka Viking culture and mythology. Story: The goddess Loom Mother created the humans by learning to weave life into the world. The other gods wanted to do this too but had often not the skills or patience. Some imitated this by creating other races like the Varl (Giants) or Horseborn (Centaurs). One angry god however created the Dredge who are living humanoids out of stone to destroy the other races. He was punished by the Loom Mother but this ended accidentally with his dead to every gods shock as they thought themselves to be immortal. The gods then fought and killed themselves or are in hiding but there is no evidence for the last. Meanwhile the before fighting Varl and Humans made peace to repel the Dredge. They won and the Dredge seem to be gone. However many years later the sun stopped at the sky and the Dredge seem to return in numbers unlike before. This will be a struggle for survival. I like the story and the dread. You feel the menace and the harsh battle for survival. Together with the well done characters it is an immersive and enjoyable adventure. Game play: Firstly the strategic RPG parts. It is turn based but not with a speed attribute. You are in control of up to 6 characters per battle. Each side has alternating turns no mater the numbers except one is down to the last man standing. Example you have 6 characters so after 12 turns it is your same characters turn again. When the enemy has 8 it will be 16 before the same characters turn. Be careful! This is dangerous when you have spared the most powerful enemies until the end. You have an armor and health rating. Health is also attack power and this is an interesting concept. Lets say attack power 9 against armor 7 with 10 health. This is 9-7 = 2 damage and with this health is 10-2= 8. The possible damage output is lowered from also 10 to 8 for the damaged character. You can attack the armor instead but this is a separated lower value. You do at least 1 damage no mater the armor but with high differences the hit percentage is lower and lower. You have also willpower that can be added. You have a stock and a value for max adding. The value will be added to the result. Lets take the above example and use 2 willpower. Damage 9-7=2+2=4. Useful in many situation as it can also be used to increase moving range. The character level up with enough kills but you must pay the level up with more and more renown (See below) for this and it is not much status increase per level. Also you can equip better artifacts (only 1 per character) and each 2 levels your willpower based special skills get better but also more expensive. A simpler but really enjoyable system with some depth. Then there is the survival part. Some say it is similar to the classic “The Oregon Trail” but I think this is not familiar anymore. You are the leader of a caravan and must protect its people. You travel through the lands with them and must get food and this is also bought with renown points. You get those for defeating enemies and some events. It is harsh decision making between level up and buying more food. Starvation is a thing and more people need more food. There is a moral rating system and this will be also with benefits and penalties. There are random and scripted events where you have to made decisions. Your decisions mostly have consequences and you can gain or lose heroes, food, moral and people too. It is a cruel situation and as leader you have to make harsh decisions or let others pay the price. I forgot that defeated heroes need recovery time except on easy difficulty (And more on hard). You can still use them but they are really weakened. Resting improves moral, heals wounded heroes but it takes time and consumes food. I think this is a good set up and the rest is easy to learn. The game worked really well with its story, characters and challenges. Even normal gets really hard later on when you want to be noble leader and safe as many lives as possible. Then there is the graphics. It looks hand-drawn and the world and characters look amazing. Another game where I would buy an artbook. The soundtrack is truly good and I was amazed that they used artist I already cherish like Malukah, Peter Hollens and Taylor Davis. They have good YouTube channels by the way. With this the game is a masterpiece for me. Overall a good game creates emotion and has an addicting gameplay. This is true for the Banner saga and the mixture is worth 10/10 for me. Expand
  2. Jul 16, 2020
    Оцениваю всю трилогию. Лучшие пошаговые бои сделанные в книжном стиле. Сюжет шикарен, драма, игра напоминает фильм Игру престолов. ЛюбойОцениваю всю трилогию. Лучшие пошаговые бои сделанные в книжном стиле. Сюжет шикарен, драма, игра напоминает фильм Игру престолов. Любой персонаж может умереть и действие которое вы сделали или не сделали в первой части, в третей части будут иметь последствия. Несколько концовок. Игра уникальна. Совет - проходить всю трилогию перенося сохранения то у вас получится самое офигенное чувство масштаба происходящего. Если вы проходите игру по отдельности каждую часть, начиная новую игру, персонажи которые у вас погибли по сюжету будут живы, а это поверьте не так интересно Expand
  3. Sep 8, 2018
    Great game, and if I had more than a 10 point system, I would probably say 8.5 honestly, but it leans higher so I will go with a 9. Be warned,Great game, and if I had more than a 10 point system, I would probably say 8.5 honestly, but it leans higher so I will go with a 9. Be warned, this game starts off dreadfully uninviting. They immediately dive into confusing conversations, imagining that you 'read all the books already' to the game's lore, which don't exist. It is a major turn-off, but I'd highly suggest that the first time you start the game, commit to 2-3 hours out of the gate. Once the battle system begins, you'll never look back.

    With a great and enjoyable cast of eccentric and beloved or hated characters, and a punishing system of choice where each simple caraven choice has the potential to deal you great damage, and one of the most enjoyable and addicting battle systems I've ever played, Banner Saga is an underrated gem in my opinion. For an indie kickstarter game, you get 10 or so hours of gameplay on 1 run, and there is never a dull moment for 5 minutes where you don't feel like a choice, a character upgrade, or a battle move is unimportant. There is replay value, but that's not usually something I go for. Great music, and an impressive art style that keeps the game above the 2D, sucky-graphics-are-retro indie look we see so often now, and did I mention the complex, fully-baked, strategy-heavy battle system? The main drawback is a lack of regular voice acting and.... well... I guess a slow start? Overall this is a superb game.
  4. Mar 8, 2016
    Here's everything you need to know:

    This is a strategy game in the same genre as Fire Emblem or XCOM. You manage a squad of members as you
    Here's everything you need to know:

    This is a strategy game in the same genre as Fire Emblem or XCOM. You manage a squad of members as you trek away from impending doom as a result of the sun suddenly stopping in the sky.

    You fight battles with up to 6 members at a time as you try to balance good leadership decisions with maintaining food for the caravan and what to do with the strays and thieves you discover en-route.

    The only perma-death you encounter is solely reliant on the text choices you make (they cannot die in battle), which would make the combat feel empty if it wasn't for the ranking system. You need to reach kill milestones in order to allow your characters to level up, and each person can hold one item. The strategy and the depth that occurs just from those two elements becomes complex if you're a person looking to maximize efficiency and spend an extra handful of hours to plan out how to best utilize your characters.

    While there is no perma-death, if a teammate dies in combat they will have a health penalty if they are not fully healed before the next battle. The rate of the healing process is defined by the difficulty level you choose.

    I have two complaints: the game is short and there are too few battles. There are 7 chapters, but the first two are basically tutorials that mix explaining lore with explaining the game mechanics, and also briefly covers the consequences of your choices. Chapters 3-5 is the bulk of the game, and 6-7 involves the building up of the climax. Personally I found the ending to be too open-ended. But it didn't feel unsatisfactory due to a lack of plot, it just feels like the story was built to handle more information. It's presumably the end of the world, and the game leaves you and your caravan at its most vulnerable state. The dreariness has a feel of "there's something coming," and that atmosphere still lingers after credits. I was ready to take on more.

    Depending on how you play, there is only about 10-20 battles in the entire game. I appreciate games like this that don't implement cheap ways of keeping gamers busy or lengthening the game with ridiculous mechanics, but I was hoping for a more fleshed out, in-depth game that naturally lasts longer than this game did.

    TLDR: Buy this game if you are itching for a re-playable and appealing RPG strategy game, as long as you can overlook its less-appealing attributes (very short, less combat than expected, loose plot dynamics). The charm alone is what convinced me to play, and for some that's all you need. But for most, be prepared to buy the sequel for closure.
  5. Aug 31, 2016
    Likeable characters and a great Nordic themed story and world and add in some very fine turn based combat that is challenging but not to theLikeable characters and a great Nordic themed story and world and add in some very fine turn based combat that is challenging but not to the point were it becomes frustrating, you feel like you have accomplished something during combat, also add to the management of supplies and upgrading your key party members and you have a very good game. Expand
  6. Aug 6, 2021
    Let me start off by saying this is a decent game and one I'd actually recommend to purchase however it has some issues that distract from itsLet me start off by saying this is a decent game and one I'd actually recommend to purchase however it has some issues that distract from its full enjoyment. The first issue is that the game and its lore try to overachieve to the point it's confusing and distracting on a first playthrough. Part of my recommendation to purchase this game is because it has a ton of characters and each is embedded within the games lore, but the way it is presented, by switching from different character perspectives is overwhelming to understand within an initial playthrough. I stopped halfway through my first playthrough to redo the game with the same choices so I could re-read and enjoy the story more and understand the characters better but there are just too many names and waypoint lore and in the end it just became blah, blah, blah. I lost interest repeating and rereading. It would have been wise to include an insert which would allow an overview of the game setting so you could understand the setting and characters much better while playing the game. The second issue goes hand in hand with some presentational choices. Reading text is wayyyyyy outdated and with this much dialog voicing should have supplemented the text you had to read. It was present in some cutscenes so really felt like the game was experiencing a software bug by way of audio dropping for the rest of the gameplay. The third issue I had was camera. It really needed to be able to rotate for a cleaner view of enemy and friendly stats. I made many mistakes of interpreting the battlefield because various animations, especially Varl (Giants in the game) hid or confused some areas of the in game map. This issue wasn't a huge mess but did impact my games enjoyment. Now that I've expanded upon these issues I'd like to say the rest of the game is extremely impressive. The amount of characters you can play and their unique skill sets are pretty amazing. For a small turn based game the game can get very tactical and rewarding. Despite not enjoying going thru games more than once I was very tempted to try the game again. Instead, you can import your characters into the next entry so that's where I'm heading and maybe someday I will replay the entire trilogy again with what I remember of it. One thing I would like to point out in my review is that most reviews were going gaga about the story and not going on much about the gameplay. I would say the gameplay is the strong point of this game but it will take the full trilogy playthrough to get enough action in to satisfy you. My first playthrough of this first saga really only felt like an introduction to the game before it was already over. The story left me really wanting to go back and learn what just happened better though so maybe that's what everyone is getting at. Overall a decent game I am a fan of the fire emblem games and although different this game has enough going for it to earn my interest in it's purchase and stand behind it. One other thing this is not a rts game as some reviews state it is a turn based strategy game. As you travel along the game requires choice/input to branch your story. If that's rts then I guess it helps explain why Candy Crush sued lol. Expand
  7. Dec 1, 2020
    First and foremost the 3 banner saga is but one game with around 20 hour playtime each, and with one story. Selling them separately is
    First and foremost the 3 banner saga is but one game with around 20 hour playtime each, and with one story. Selling them separately is just money-grabbing consider the price of the 3 when you make your decision.

    Battles (Turn-based strategy):
    It has one interesting aspect: the strength is both your health and your damage stat so the current health of a character is equal to the damage it deals with an attack (against health). You also have armor, and the damage one character takes is lowered by the flat amount of armor it has. Means you always have to decide either to go for breaking armor (in order to be able to deal higher damages for health later) or try to damage their health while they have higher armor in order to lower their damage output sooner. Otherwise every character has only 1 ability at the first game and 2 from the second which is a bit underwhelming, and there is also very very (very) low variety in enemy and terrain-types. The difficulty level isn’t dull, but isn’t too challenging either (in the first game the first fight when I had to rethink one or two times was the last boss). All in all the Battles are fine and aren’t the weak part of the game.

    - It is real bad. Most of the time there isn’t any choice option that is close to what would you do in that situation. The decision-points feel far-fetched too often, the consequences are thoughtless and / or random, and worst of all: sometimes provably doesn’t matter. (when you have 6 choice in a dialogue, and eventually all get you the same results). In this regard nothing works like it should have. Eg. there are several decision points when you can recruit / allow people to join your caravan. If you do something unpopular or you run out of food then people start leaving. So the game expects you to feel like it somewhat good or ‘right’ to have a bigger caravan, but it gives you no actual benefits, on the contrary: you have to feed more people which isn’t easy. So the whole logic collapse. The game punishes you by taking away people from your caravan that has no benefits but eat a lot. (after 2 games they seem to have realised it too because at the third game these man are at least able to forage for food).

    *** spoiler ***
    Another taste of Banners Saga’s logic: There is a point where one of your man stabs you in the back and leave (with several of your soldiers) after a conversation. I reloaded several times to choose other dialog options but the results were the same. Then I looked thoroughly in the events leading to this (by replaying), and found nothing special really: He helped me against a guy that seemed crazy then join me. Some times before that there was some dialog when someone – out of the blue – said not to trust masked mans. Maybe that was the point when I should have been “””smart””” because the guy wears a common foot solder helmet that covers one third of his face? Or maybe the fact that his ability called “backstabbing”? The whole thing felt cheap, and I felt the same on several other occasions.

    The main plot builds up some exciting threads, and made me curious but in the end left me disappointed. All in all the story is mediocre in my opinion.

    At this point I feel particularly misled, because watching the intro of the game, it had a really cool atmosphere with several drawed-cartoonish cutscenes, and vivid music that I liked. But in reality, those are the only cutscenes in the game, and there aren’t even background music at most part, just the mind blowing, while your caravan traveling from A to B. No voice-acting either.

See all 22 User Reviews