Updated: Oct 8, 2018
“Never break the peace which good men and true make between thee and others.” -Saga of Njal, chapter 55.
Enter the land of the frozen; The Banner Saga is a Viking-themed tactical RPG game with loss around every corner making this game anything but sunshine and rainbows. Test your leadership. What are you willing to do for those you command?
The game starts off with enemies called Dredge invading your village forcing you to flee their fury. You control two caravans of characters trying to survive in a merciless world making decisions that will affect their lives and those they interact with. The game requires you to manage supplies and morale sometimes with little to no reknown, reknown is the currency. It is used to level up characters and purchase items and supplies. Failure to keep morale up will make fights harder as you will have less willpower, a crucial in-game mechanic, and running out of supplies for the caravans will result in deaths. Although the game may seem confusing at times as little besides combat is explained, you won’t want to put it down.
The variety of character classes keep you from getting bored, ranging from archers who pick off their targets from afar to Varls, giants who make up the front-line. Clever tactics are needed to win battles in turn-based combat which takes place on gridded maps. Characters have the ability to level up and increase their skill after eliminating enemies as well as the choice of which attributes to increase; this keeps the same classes from being too similar.
The art is beautifully done making each and every character memorable. I have to say I’m a big fan of the beards…anyway the soundtrack, composed by Austin Wintory, truly is brilliant, each song pulling on a heart string as you journey through this bleak world. The atmosphere really immerses you into the game which couldn’t be possible without the beautiful art and songs. Stoic, the game's developer, does a great job immersing you in a fictional Scandinavian world.
Choices play an integral role in this game. You never know how others will react to what you characters decide on. These choices intensify the further you progress in your game. Although the game can be harsh at times, The Banner Saga delivers a nice blend of combat, choices, and characters making it one of my favorite tactical RPGs proving why simple can be just as effective as the most high-budgeted games out there.
I also feel like this game ties in really well with the theme of this season which is dealing with loss and trying to overcome it. Banner Saga teaches a valuable lesson: loss is inevitable but trekking on despite it is absolutely essential in order to survive if not for yourself then at least for others. There may be no hope for miles but sheer willpower is the difference between victory and failure.
Be sure to check out The Banner Saga here. Have you played the game before or now want to try it? Comment below and let us know!
Need to warm up from this frigid review?
Stay frosty and Keep it Reel!
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