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The Banner Saga

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8.1

Great

Game Reviews from around the web

100

The Banner Saga is blindingly lovely and arguably just as intriguing to play. Built atop a world that all but demands the attention of travel documentaries, it’s epic in the literal sense of the word.

95

An experience I advise no one to miss.

90

Regardless of whether future installments stand or fall, The Banner Saga has done its duty. It may not always give gamers what they want, but it gives them what they need: challenging questions, tactical gameplay, and a strong, fully realized atmosphere.

90

A great start for the next entries. The combat system is extremely polished and the game has great characters and a detailed world that we want to explore even more.

90

The Banner Saga is an example of a successfully Kickstarted video game that gives its backers everything they wanted, including a story that’s rich in character and detail.

90

For all the compromises you’re forced to make within it, the game itself never compromises on the quality of its writing, art, and tactical combat.

90

The Banner Saga is one of the most original games you’ll play this year. That such a small team has managed to create a story that will be unique to every player is astonishing, and that the story actually makes you care even more so.

90

Last year, Expeditions: Conquistador and Shadowrun Returns proved that Kickstarter can help create a good RPG. But The Banner Saga is not just good – it’s amazing.

90

A beautiful and unforgettable experience, very well written, with a challenging combat system, and where every action has its consequences. A game that RPG fans shouldn’t miss.

90

The cast is plausible and the art is nothing short of exceptional, and everything is molded in a coherent, fascinating experience. A great result from Stoic that puts some brilliant out-of-the-box thinking and sheer creativity to good use.

90

The Banner Saga is one of the most engrossing games I’ve played in a long time. It drives you forward and is incredibly hard to put down. It’s the kind of game that throws you a really unpleasant curveball when you least expect it, and I love it.

90

With a refreshingly unique aesthetic, well-written story, and challenging gameplay, The Banner Saga is an excellent adventure well worth your time.

90

If you’re getting tired of swords and sorcery, or just looking for meaty tactical battles, few RPGs will satisfy you better.

90

Filled with strategic gameplay and impactful decisions, The Banner Saga is a gorgeously epic Norse-inspired adventure whose only real fault is that there isn’t more of it.

89

The Banner Saga delivers an engaging story, narrated with great visual and music artistry. The combat system developed by Stoic Studio is also enjoyable.

89

The Banner Saga’s mature and gripping story, sublime visuals and soundtrack, and engaging gameplay make for a game that’s worth raising the banner for.

88

The intangible thing that ties everything together is the mood of the game — grim and somber in a way that fits the setting perfectly. Whether it’s the hard-bitten characters, the swirling snow, or the haunting score by Journey composer Austin Wintory, The Banner Saga is a game about an apocalypse that actually feels like there’s something being lost, not one that feels like a chance for an unkillable hero to simply kick more ass.

88

Distinctive writing, nuanced combat and impossibly beautiful art headline The Banner Saga. Strong workmanship went into the character builds. The rethought turn-based tactics are unique and sensible. And I just couldn’t slow down the insistent narrative of this brave world and the bold new legend it’s sewing together.

87

A great tactical RPG coming from a forgotten era of videogaming, with a brilliant art style and a melancholic story.

87

If you have any imagination at all, The Banner Saga’s terrific writing will take you on a splendid tour in one of the most interesting worlds computer game developers have created since the original Mass Effect. It’s a love letter to fantasy books and features an epic story with fascinating characters, that will sweep you away and not let you go until its end, which sadly comes all too soon.

86

The Banner Saga deserves commendation for the strength of its art and music experience alone, which shatters conventions. That experience, in turn, complements a bleak story of a world teetering before its fall, where the harshness of the Scandinavian landscape mirrors the plight of mutually distrustful refugees.

85

Banner Saga is a fine – but towards the end a bit repetitive – turn-based viking adventure. [Feb 2014]

Pelit (Finland)

85

The Banner Saga is a successful example of turn-based strategy. Beautiful story combined with quality music and artwork is enough to get you hooked for days.

85

Despite its confusing beginning, we want to keep walking these northern lands like our heroes: suffering all kinds of hardships, but with a light heart.

85

The Banner Saga is an absolutely gorgeous, engrossing RPG that features well-balanced and pleasingly tactical turn-based combat. It’s a linear journey, but one that’s definitely worth taking.

85

One might say that The Banner Saga is somewhat halfway between the classic The Oregon Trail and Kingdom of Dragon Pass, mixed with tactical turn-based combat and a story that covers the epic feats of the Norse gods. A new example of the portentous level which independent developments continue to achieve, each day more and more about overcoming some of the major productions. From its humble mechanical and its simple-but-stunning visual style, we have a solid, exciting and unique title in its genre supported by an interesting plot line that offers us decisiveness. One of the best indies of this early 2014.

85

The Banner Saga isn’t what you’d strictly call “fun.” Instead it’s interesting and challenging, more like a chess match than death match. But there’s an incredible satisfaction when you take on a gang of armored monsters that by all rights should trample you, yet you’re able to hamstring their health then line them up for execution.

85

The Banner Saga is a very unique game – an excellent mix of cRPG and tactical battles with a compelling story, interesting characters and wonderful, cartoonish graphics. It’s definitely not a game for everyone, but fans of complex stories will be overjoyed. And in case they are fans of Scandinavian hero stories and love sad fables as well, The Banner Saga is a must buy.

85

The beautiful, atmospheric snowy world of The Banner Saga forms the decor for a story in which you’re forced to accept all the consequences of your choices. The simple, but entertaining turn-based gameplay usually works in favor of the story, not the other way around.

85

Depending on a number of factors, The Banner Saga should take around 5-15 hours to complete on first playthrough. Despite a few minor issues with enemy variety and the tedium of recurring encounters, Banner Saga stands out as an excellent tactical RPG with considerable depth.

84

We also couldn’t tear ourselves away from the breathtaking background drawings and impressive character art that portray a new and mysteriously beautiful world that awaits to be discoverd.

83

This game is not for everybody. It’s painfully unfair, has a unique graphics style and tells its story in windows full of text. But it’s an unforgettable experience once you give it a chance.

82

There are deeper strategy games, but few where you’ll feel quite so invested in the outcome. Recommended.

80

It’s an outstanding start for a trilogy, and one that we can’t wait to see to its end. [Issue#145, p.116]

games(TM)

80

A fantastic combination of fantasy storytelling and RPG tactics. One hell of a debut from Stoic. [Apr 2014, p.62]

Hyper Magazine

80

If the story and art style doesn’t interest you, then the combat will absolutely draw you in.

80

Bold and distinctive. [March 2014, p.102]

Edge Magazine

80

There are definitely some mechanics to be fixed, namely the monotony of the combat, but I enjoyed my time in this bleak world thoroughly.

80

The Banner Saga is a human story told with inhuman flair, and that somehow makes it all the more relatable. Even the fights themselves have grown on me – they’re just tough enough to provide a challenge on normal difficulty, but not so unforgiving that I feel like giving up.

80

Each choice feels incredibly meaningful because it affects everything.

80

It’s challenging and thoughtful, but it does lamentably become repetitive.

80

Due to the bleak landscapes, the depressing situations your characters find themselves in and the challenging tactical combat, this is a game for those who will find the challenge rewarding rather than those looking for lighter entertainment.

80

The Banner Saga might not be for everyone, but it sure is drenched in craftsmanship. When the story and characters get a hold of you, an experience starts that you’ll remember for years to come, even though it has a rough edge.

80

As with any good tactical game, the system takes a few turns to get the hang of, with new strategic moves being learnt even after your umpteenth battle.

80

The Banner Saga is a precious game that deserves the attention of anyone who is fan of strategy games and at the same time wants a good story, which has the advantage of letting the player take part in its course.

80

Hardship and displacement in a Nordic-inspired world make for a splendid, and splendid looking, RPG.

80

Banner Saga is a fascinating trip to Norse mythology. Half leg deep in snow, you will enjoy your wars, dilemmas and also emotions, all in its graceful audiovisuals. Several of its flaws and ambiguities are not worth mentioning. You should not miss this visual novel.

80

The emotionally affecting narrative steals the show and highlights Stoic’s skill for storytelling, while combat is more commendable than spectacular.

80

Its tactics and strategy layers might not be the deepest in the genre. But The Banner Saga is still the sort of adventure that has seasoned warriors burst into sombre campfire song. Sing along, if you dare!

80

Credit then to Stoic for crafting a game experience that makes such gloom palatable, beautiful, and yes, even enjoyable.

80

The designer Sid Meier famously said that a game is a series of interesting choices. It’s a maxim fully embraced by The Banner Saga, which stitches those choices into its very fabric to form a tapestry that is wholly your own.

80

The hand-drawn visuals, interesting combat, and epic story mean The Banner Saga is crafted from flawless pieces – even if the final product is a little rough.

80

The Banner Saga is an excellent Tactical/Adventure game mixing Bioware-like RPG with choices and consequences, and turn-based fights. It is not perfect in terms of gameplay, but it is visually stunning. We can’t wait for the next episode.

80

The Banner Saga is dark and onerous experience, but its one that draws you in. I’ll be waiting with bated breath to see which way this winding path darts next. Something tells me we’re not out of the woods just yet.

80

The Banner Saga offers a refreshing take on the tactical RPG with a story every bit as engaging as its combat.

78

With an inspiring art direction, a relentless but interesting game design and a good combat system, The Banner Saga only suffers from a lack of variety in its fighting scenarios and its slow caravan sequences. This solid Kickstarter game shows its pedigree but some players might not get charmed by its particular setting.

75

The Banner Saga is good game with his flaws. It’s horrendously difficult and its build for a certain group of gamers. If you love slow-paced RTS gaming with incredible consequences, The Banner Saga is the game for you.

75

A game that will probably be remembered more for its amazing art direction and music than its gameplay. It’s not bad, mind you, but it has definitely some tactical flaws. In the end, the Banner Saga will be able to capture you with a branched and inspired narrative, and solid battles.

75

Beautiful, well written, but aggravating. That’s The Banner Saga in a nutshell.

74

A saga indeed – long on story, short on gameplay – and as a gamer it’s something you’ll either love or hate.

70

Turn-based combat – especially later in the game – is enjoyable, but too easy on the normal difficulty level. Visuals resembling old Disney movies are wonderful and music is excellent. It’s a shame that the characters have no voices though, because it would make them easier to attach to. [03/2014, p.64]

CD-Action

70

For all its flaws and shortcomings, The Banner Saga’s ambitions shine through well enough. [March 2014, p.52]

PC PowerPlay

70

Stoic has been successful with its tactical role-playing game. The viking theme and graphic design is a breath of fresh air, while the animations and the combat system could have been a bit more varied. Expect a text heavy and challenging experience where most of the role playing consists of your choices in dialogues which then affects the plot.

70

Overall The Banner Saga’s an enjoyable product, just one that lets itself down in several key ways. It’s almost where it needs to be, but these niggling issues prevent it from reaching its full potential. That said, it’s a damn fine-looking game with quality writing at a reasonable price, and still comes fairly recommended for anyone looking to flee for their lives in a harsh and unforgiving environment.

70

The Banner Saga offers a good look into the world Stoic has created for this three-part adventure. It’s a depressing, but beautiful tale of survival against all odds, one that creates a developed plot and theme without degrading the characters or world to appear mature.

70

Some of the most difficult decision-making in gaming, both tactically and morally, but occasional rough edges betray the game’s small budget and short development time.

70

The Banner Saga is a beautiful game, filled with interesting ideas and enjoyable battles. It’s too bad the story gets entangled within its own winding web, but this chilly journey does a fine job of reminding you that being a respectable leader is about more than just giving rousing speeches and schmoozing with the high and mighty.

69

The presentation promises much and is highly polished but it lies at the surface, working to conceal the more problematic aspects of the actual game itself.

68

Gorgeous and with some great ideas, but lacking the genre’s defining depth. [March 2014, p.80]

Games Master UK

67

Despite the fact that the game’s battle system never fully clicked for me, I was won over by the well-rounded universe that Stoic has established, providing players a few good reasons to count their lucky stars when training some women later beget archers for combat, or just for having collected some supplies without losing fighters in the process.

65

While I applaud their artists and music, The Banner Saga has very little else to cheer about.

60

On their way through a beautiful landscape, the developers made a few missteps but the result still goes well with long winter nights. [Issue#238]

LEVEL (Czech Republic)

60

The battle system controls easily and is fairly easy to learn; those who see this game basically like chess will enjoy it. Those looking for a new RPG to get into, however, should look elsewhere.

50

Its stripped down battle system and low production values have a huge impact on the overall quality of Stoics game, a game that has a unique charm but cannot earn a place next to the best “tactics” games whether they are “indie/ kickstarter” projects or not.

Summary

The Banner Saga might not be for everyone, but it sure is drenched in craftsmanship
8.1

Great

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