Checks Out The Banner Saga

Full disclosure: I backed The Banner Saga on Kickstarter back in 2012. I was excited about it then, and I remain excited about it now. It was with some glee that I downloaded the game and played through the first chapter last night; you can witness that, along with my commentary (and attempts at voice-acting a bunch of giants) right here:

“So Craig,” you might ask, “what do you think so far?”

Basically: my first impressions are very positive. Early fights are manageable, but it’s still quite easy to screw up and lose units. I like that. The game eases you in, with most mechanics explained clearly through tutorial text–but at the same time, it doesn’t make the early encounters trivial.

The Banner Saga’s dialog is well-written so far. I consider it a big plus that the game’s lore is revealed primarily through believable character interactions rather than through text dumps. (The game’s expository text is well-written too, though it’s also mercifully terse.) Characterization is pretty decent so far. The player is obviously meant to hate Ludin, and I oblige the game in that.

This game’s art and animation style is gorgeous, though that hardly comes as a surprise. I particularly like the parallax effect when switching perspectives during character dialog.

The one thing I didn’t really get to show off much during this video is The Banner Saga’s travel system. You have to balance limited supplies against unit health and morale, and random events will force you to make difficult decisions while you travel. It’s something the developers have talked about a lot (with not-infrequent references to The King of Dragon Pass), so I think it’s worth mentioning that it’s both (1) there and (2) a lot more central than this video might lead you to believe.

I am actually pretty eager to get back to playing. Based on my first impressions, I’d recommend this one.

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  • BarryB says:

    Yes, KoDP forces you into making difficult decisions, and it’s a fantastic game. Very different from the way this one appears to be, but I have to say the choices you show make it look very inviting.

  • BarryB says:

    One note after watching your gameplay video:

    I’m very impressed with the fact that they avoided the “My Atom Bomb is Bigger Than Your Atom Bomb” levels, items, and powers, where everything becomes so potent that nothing any longer has meaning. Thus, getting the fireball spell in BG1 was so much more of an achievement than in BG2. Here, the slightest changes, a point of damage, can really make a great difference.

    That’s a very well thought out and executed game, if what you show is typical. And I always have liked decisions that have long term results.

  • […] In case you missed it, my first impressions piece on the PC version of the game from earlier this year is available right here. […]


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