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The Banner Saga is quite the story, actually, most of the game is just that, story, history, dialogue, choices and characters that interact with one another. A Viking themed inspired game, The Banner Saga is heavily inspired by Kay Neilsen’s art as well as John Hench’s art on Disney’s The Sleeping Beauty (my favorite Disney, as a matter of fact, because it’s all so god damn gorgeous.) The story revolves around the return of a great evil, the Dredge, and Bellower, an invincible boss ass Dredge.
The game has you play two groups of people/armies, as the both journey through the land, running away from the Dredge, running to it, or just running. The game, although heavily focused on story, having you read through quite a lot of text and dialogue, remains very interactive. As you Journey, you have to make sure to care for your caravan, the people in it, the rations of food, and who you choose to or not let join your group. The environment, the world, the look of Banner Saga was so very beautiful that I couldn’t stop myself from taking far too many screenshots, and I’m not sure what I’ll do with all of them, but share some with you within this review, enjoy.
The gameplay of Banner Saga is a turn based, strategic kind of battle system. Each of your character has a specific class and/or set of abilities, which you can level up and strengthen as they are used in your battles, the highest level is 10, and I originally though that was a bit limiting, but it turned out not to be limiting at all, as this turned out to be a shorter game than I expected. Elves, dwarves, orcs, humans, your basic and adored fantasy stuff, accompanied by an absolutely wonderful and immersive orchestrated soundtrack by the Dallas Wind Symphony and written by the great Austin Wintory, along with a lot of other musicians I quite frankly want to bow down to.
The Banner Saga was a great story. As a bookworm, and avid gamer, it took some of my favorite things, the look of Sleeping Beauty, stories, reading, fantasy and a really great turn based system that I think continues to be grossly underrated, and made something quite frankly, absolutely beautiful. I only wish that the game had been a tad longer, as the ending took me by surprise and left me dissatisfied, I wanted more. The replay value of the game I had yet to test, but I have no doubt that I would very much enjoy this game another time.
There’s something I’d like to take the time to dive a little deeper into, actually:
The Female Characters of The Banner Saga; There were a lot of things that I noticed happening or being said in the game that pleased me. In one the groups that you follow/lead there is Alette. Established as an amazing archer, I was often afraid that Alette would be refused by her father to show her skills and even participate in the battles, as a lot of female characters are. Introduced as fighters but reduced to watching the men fight from the sidelines. This was not the case. All of the female characters introduced in the game, Alette, Oddleif, Ysra and Nid, all participated to the battles. There were many lines where you are given the option to take away their agency and refuse their demands of, say, training the civilian women to know how to fight, or approve, and the dialogue between the fame characters and you are quite nice. “A strong woman, what does that even mean?” Yes, what DOES that even mean, Oddleif? *slams fits onto table*
Con: Female characters are all archers and thus have the same animation. I often made the choice to leave out most of them and rarely have them in my party as they all seemed a lot of the same thing, someone from the Banner Saga has since contact me to tell me that this was something they were asked to change, and was thus changed for Banner Saga 2, I am very curious to check this out. Con: Too short.
Pro: Fucking beautiful, great soundtrack (Actually all the sounds in this game were really great), loved the story, the concept, made me think of a Lord of the Rings type of game with a whole lot of Disney in it.
9/10, would recommend!