THE BANNER SAGA 3
By Jef "JeffAlpha" P. on July 26, 2018
This might be one of my briefest reviews to date. But hold on, it's for a good reason. It comes as no surprise that The Banner Saga 3 is the third installment of.. well.. The Banner Saga. For those unfamiliar with the Banner Saga Games, it's about Norse/Scandinavian folk trying to prevent the end of the world as they know it (i.e. Ragnarok). The series has a Norse mythology backdrop and is super story driven.
The narrative is served up in a Dungeons and Dragons kind of way, mixed with turn based combat. It is because the games are so story driven that I can't dive too deep into the story itself. I have to confess I didn't play the first part. However, I did play The Banner Saga 2 very recently. Although I didn't expect lots of big changes, I was pleasantly surprised by what the developers improved.
This is usually where I tell you a little about the storyline. I'm not going to do that here, but please trust me when I say that it is definitely worth your while. What I can tell you though, is that the third and final part of the trilogy picks up exactly where second part left off. Like the second part, The Banner Saga 3 has a recap in the main menu that gets you up to speed in case you didn't play the previous part or simply forgot the main storyline. This is very helpful. Another cool feature is that you are able to import the save file from the previous game and continue as if you never left.
What else can I tell you about the story without a spoiler warning. Well, The Banner Saga 3 does get even darker than the previous game in the series and really builds up the tension, just like the season finale of your favorite TV show. All the elements that made the previous games worthwhile are still there. The way the nearing end overshadows the in-game world and forces you to make the hard decisions is awesomely done and attests to great game making.
The graphics portrait an overall style, so the cut scenes, menus and battle sequences all fit neatly together. The art style looks hand drawn and polished, as if you were watching a cartoon. A somewhat violent cartoon, but a cartoon nevertheless. Although dialogue is somewhat static when it comes to graphics, animations like world travel and combat look fluent. Perhaps the best part, graphics-wise, is that the game looks good but is not too demanding. You don't need an elaborate gaming pc to run this game.
Since I recently played The Banner Saga, 2 the games mechanics are not unfamiliar to me. They don't take a lot of getting used to though. It's fairly straight forward pointing, clicking through dialogue and dragging characters and items to a desired position. When engaged in combat most actions are pretty self-explanatory. Move, attack, or rest. This doesn't mean combat isn't immersive or challenging. There is a wide array of tactics and strategic elements to employ and enemies don't just roll over and die.
To continue on the subject. As with most combat in RPGs, attacks are not just limited to a swing of the sword. The Banner Saga 3 lets you upgrade characters to fit both your play style as well as compliment the strengths of a particular team member. There are the usual tank, ranged and other support roles. I really love it when a game gets the standard difficulty setting just right and The Banner Saga is one of those games. You might lose a battle sometimes but the game never punishes you to a point where it gets frustrating. The other half of the game is just as challenging and perhaps even more unforgiving. The moral dilemmas you'll face and the choices you'll have to make feel like they have a profound impact on the way the story develops.
The Banner Saga trilogy tells a tale of the panic and fear that impending doom brings. The way the developers incorporated topics like war and discrimination against fugitives do not only make for a layer of depth not seen in most videogames but also gives players food for thought. On top of that the mechanics work well and the overall look really stands out. One can tell that a lot of love went into making the series.