The Gods are dead, the Great War is over and the few survivors live in a land locked in a perpetual twilight. This is the setting for the beautifully crafted turn-based strategy game, The Banner Saga developed by Stoic Studios.
Classic hand-drawn Disney cartoons mixed together with an epic Viking saga inspire the colorful and artistic style for the scenery and characters in The Banner Saga. Grammy nominated composer Austin Wintory, provides a magical musical score as you journey throughout the game.
The game revolves around a caravan of humans and horned giants called the Varl traveling through the Scandinavian inspired landscape. The convoy’s journey takes you into dark forests and over snow-capped mountaintops, as you enter small villages with your banners fluttering in the wind. Maintaining this parade of flags is in your hands.
You must choose when to rest your caravan, so that your heroes will be fit for the next fight, or save your supplies until you reach the next town. Managing the pace everyone should be traveling, and deciding if you want vagabonds to join your cavalcade have future ramifications. You also have to defend your clansman against brigands and the ancient colossal armor clad beings called The Dredge.
As a turn-based strategy game, you are able to play with 25 characters across two different races. Each character is equipped with unique abilities and upgrade options allowing you to strategize on whether you want to attack or defend. When enemies are defeated you’ll earn renown points, allowing you to promote your characters or buy additional supplies for your caravan.
One things for sure, you’ll be doing a lot of reading in The Banner Saga. Getting used to the Viking names like “Oddleif” and “Sigbjorn”, was a bit of a task, but getting over the hurdle opens you up to the well-crafted characters in the game. Your choices during the dialogue put weight on the outcome of your quest. Decisions may have an immediate impact or they may show themselves later on during your journey.
With beautiful hand-drawn animation and combat, The Banner Saga is a welcome relief to a gaming environment that is full of fast-paced and realistic scenarios. Making decisions and not knowing what the consequences of your decision keeps you on your guard through out the game. Given the slow pace of turn-based combat, I wish the game included a save function in the middle of combat. I also had a problem figuring out when the game last saved, but who needs saving when you are immersed in this epic story of hope and survival.
Note: The Banner Saga review was written based on the PC version of the game.