Gamers love to imagine what would happen if multiple games were combined together, to picture a game that takes all the best elements of games they love and mix them to create something incredible. Sadly, most gamers are left to dream for a game that captures what features they desire, but not for me, as The Banner Saga manages to capture everything I love in a masterfully crafted adventure.
Imagine if Skyrim, Game of Thrones, XCOM, Mass Effect, The Oregon Trail and Disney came together for one night of fiery romance. The Banner Saga would be the highly attractive outcome.
Set in a mythical Nordic inspired world filled with human and giant beings, The Banner Saga tells the story of multiple cavalries that travel across the land trying to defeat a strange new foe. The perspective shifts around at certain parts of the story, allowing the player to see what’s happening in the world from multiple points of view. It’s wonderful to see the divide between cultures and races, and how each leader the player controls acts toward a situation.
Every character the player controls is in charge of a cavalry and must look after them, much like The Oregon Trail. The player must make sure that morale is high and the men are well fed, or else they will fall in future battles. Random events will pop up and give the player the chance to take a risk to gain more supplies or soldiers, these events make it that strolling through the breathtaking world is always engaging and every event is an opportunity to either make or break the cavalry.
The player also has to keep their fighters happy, talking with them and making sure that they are in a state to do battle. Talking with fighters is the best way to get to know them and understand their strengths and weaknesses. Conversations have a dialogue tree with choices that can easily change how people persevere the player, and maybe reluctant to stand by the player in future arguments.
But when it comes to battle, it’s all about teamwork and cooperation. The games battle system is similar to games such as the recent XCOM game, fighters are spread out on a grid and the player takes it turn by turn to move their soldiers into position, strike at enemies, or use a special ability. The combat system then goes one level deeper by introducing the armor and health mechanic, attacking enemy armor means that the next attack to the enemies health with do significantly more damage, however attacking their health also means that the enemies attack will be weaker. Attack and health are linked together to make players play conservatively, to use every characters class and abilities to their advantage to overpower the enemies. Battles are hard, sometimes its better let a unit die than risk the health of another unit to protect them, and while there is no permadeath on the standard modes, recovering soldiers takes up recourses that make the army weaker and soon starve to death. No army means no way to continue.
This last thing doesn’t really need to be said, but what the hey, The Banner Saga is one of the most beautiful games in recent memory. The hand drawn aesthetics give the whole game an atmosphere of a Disney movie if it were designed by George RR Martin. The world is alive with animals moving in the foreground and peaks of mountains piercing through the sky in the distance. Words cannot do this games art justice; it needs to be seen to be appreciated.
As you can tell, I rather love The Banner Saga. A game that isn’t apologetic for being a dark fantasy that doesn’t give the player god like powers makes me dance with joy. The whole game carries a magical air around it that marks it out to be one of the greatest fantasy role playing experiences I’ve had the joy of experiencing.
The Banner Saga is awesome!!!!
This article was originally posted on Gaming Capacity