Reviews for The Banner Saga


Great art, setting, music, & ideas but held back by a few issues

Legolas_Katarn | April 18, 2016 | See all Legolas_Katarn's reviews »

The Banner Saga has you leading a group of warriors and civilians to escape the horde of Dredge that have been making their way through Human and Varl lands. You have to make choices and watch your supplies throughout your journey that will effect your caravan and the lives of those that fight in battle with you, certain choices can lead to characters leaving or being killed. Making certain choices and winning battles will gain you renown which you can use to buy items in markets, buy supplies, or level up your characters. The renown system is one of the things that could use work as you never really have enough or have any need to buy items from the markets (except for supplies), characters that you spend a large amount of renown on can be killed or leave based on your choices or from story events, and there are a lot of events and stretches of area where supplies are scarce. Running out of supplies means that morale will go down, which effects the willpower stat in battle and will cause civilians and soldiers to die every day they go without food. Civilians aren't actually used for anything though and soldiers only matter when you run into large groups of enemies where you will enter a "war" and have to choose how to fight, you should always take the option to charge your enemies with your main characters because it will gain you the most renown and lose you the fewest soldiers, making the choices very uninteresting. Even the finale of the game that has you holding a town for a few days gives you a lot of what should be interesting options but the best thing to do is to always fight on the battlefield. The battle system is turned based and has some good ideas, such as characters having armor and strength where strength represents how much damage someone does and their health. They also have a stat that shows how much armor they can break and willpower that can be used to fuel their active class ability and that can be used to move further, increase armor damage, or to increase strength damage. Trying to do strength attacks on a unit with higher armor will only do one damage and their armor may deflect the attack completely. It's a good system but is kind of ruined by the weird meta game it creates where you want to run around wounding all of the enemies instead of killing them due to the terrible turn order system the game uses. The turn order has one of your men goes followed by one of theirs, what this means is that if you are down to two enemies left they will keep getting turns while you have to play through your six characters, some that might be too far away or too wounded to attack the enemy. Luckily when you get down to one enemy your entire force gets to move before they do. Characters that lose all their strength in battle are wounded for 1-3 days and have their strength reduced by the number of days if they take part in a battle again, it's more of an annoyance than anything else, often they will heal during your travel between fights and it seems to go against the feel of the game where anyone could be killed. Battles are often very easy as well, which makes the war battles even stranger when hundred of enemies fight your hundreds of soldiers, and you easily win often losing only losing a dozen NPC soldiers by the end. The game has you controlling two different forces throughout it and you end up not getting much time or interaction with most of the game's characters. Battles can still be fun when the turn order isn't causing problems and the game has great art, music, good writing, an interesting world, and some good choices to make along the way. Hopefully the sequel will give you more time and conversations with your main soldiers, improve the battle system, and allow for better and more detailed choices.


Great indie game

piep66 | Sept. 20, 2015 | See all piep66's reviews »

Story is amazing. The graphics are gorgeous and the music works well with the setting. Decent depth in character building. Strategy looks simple at first but some battles can be tough and you'll need to carefully place your characters on the grid. There some moments where you'll have to choose your course of action. Consequences can seems a bit random at times but most of the times it makes you feel in control of what's going on. I finish my first playthrough in 10-12 hours which is adequate considering the price tag and the fact there's no filler content. All in all a great indie rpg with a touching story, great lore and an interesting setting. Story : 9/10 Gameplay : 8/10 Length :7/10 Music : 8/10 Graphics : 8/10


A must see and must have

ParityB1T | Sept. 11, 2015 | See all ParityB1T's reviews »

The game is short, but that's what leaves me hungry for more. Story-wise, it is very capturing and well told. I am often left in brilliant cliff-hangers, which makes me want to play on (the amount of marathon hours I would like to keep closed). The choices that are made usually effect the story, but not always. After a second play-through, some choices leads to similar conclusions, though admittedly the characters do have different attitude (which helps a lot with role-play). The story also gives a good impression of the character's situation, whether they're doing okay, down on morale, or just outright desperate. Combat-wise, it was also outstanding. The system is good and allows for tactical thinking. I do not play grid turn-based with individual characters too often (I do play HOMM and other non-grid turn based), but after The Banner Saga, I will be...a lot.


Decisions, decisions, decisions

MadDemon64 | July 15, 2015 | See all MadDemon64's reviews »

The Banner Saga is one of those games where your decisions will come back to bite you, no matter what you do. There are no good or bad, right or wrong decisions, just decisions. The Banner Saga is one part tactics, two parts Oregon Trail. During combat, you need to position your troops wisely and know what attacks to use and when. You will never come out of combat unscathed, but through proper strategy you can come out alive, which is a theme in this game: you are not out to win, just survive. This theme is also emphasized in the aforementioned “Oregon Trail”-like parts of the game where you come across different events and have to decide how to act. Do you welcome a band of travelers you come across into your party, or tell them to leave you alone? You could be passing up more men to help you combat your enemies, but at the price of diminishing available resources for everyone. Of course they could easily be thieves who will steal from you in your sleep and kill off some of your men. It is decisions like these that make The Banner Saga engaging, almost as engaging as the story. The Banner Saga is a must play game for the combat, the story, and the decisions. And then you need to play it again and make different decisions. And again, and again. It’s just one of those games that requires/deserves multiple playthroughs.


Buy it now!

samtahbou | June 6, 2015 | See all samtahbou's reviews »

I've been wanting this game for a very long time now. And I jumped at the chance to buy it now when it went on sale on GMG, not to mention getting extra games too. I am so into this game right now, I have not finished it yet, so it might be a little early to write a full review, but I'm very excited about the game and having finally gotten it so I'm writing this anyway. The story so far is very well written, I love the characters and all their interactions. The drawings in the game are beautiful, very original look, this game's engine is unique and it really puts you in the era. The soundtrack is excellent. And the game play is very enjoyable. I have played turn based games for the longest time, some I've enjoyed and others, not so much. This game belongs to the former category. I highly recommend this game for anyone who likes turn based games, and for those who don't, well maybe you'll change your mind after playing the Banner Saga


Gorgeous art, pretty good gameplay, meh story

sycomantis1991 | May 15, 2015 | See all sycomantis1991's reviews »

The first thing, and the biggest thing that drew me to this game was the art design. It's absolutely stunning hand-drawn animation, featuring epic snowy mountains and detailed characters, naturally waving flags, and the like. Just looking at it is worth the price of admission, if Google wasn't a thing that is. It's a fairly entertaining Turn-Based Strategy game, akin to Final Fantasy Tactics or Disgaea. The mechanics are fairly simple, but done well enough, with a Fire Emblem-esque permanence, meaning that, past the tutorial levels when an ally falls, they stay that way, and this game isn't very forgiving either. I've had guys brought near 0 health after a single strike from a low-ranking enemy quite often, but it's still enjoyable. The story however, isn't very interesting, and I only remember vague details, and it hasn't been very long since I played. I only remember one or two characters being profoundly enjoyable. Overall, it's an above competent Turn-Based Strategy game with amazing art and a story that's hard to care about. It's worth its going price, but it'd never be worth the price of a standard retail game to me.


Great things from a small package

kingmanp | Dec. 26, 2014 | See all kingmanp's reviews »

I've always enjoyed games or movies that sets you in a disadvantegous situation. I consider Banner Saga to be one of them. It's a beautiful game even though the graphics are simple. The colors are rich, and the atmosphere and music just works well together. It is one of the more challenging strategy games I have played (and I played a lot: Dragonfall, Xcom EU and EW, Fallout, and many others). There is ample amount of depth to the character builds and even more so to the battle strategy. Bravo! I would like to see more games like this. Short, sweet and satisfying.


Simply outstanding

ATeciak | Dec. 22, 2014 | See all ATeciak's reviews »

I just love this game. It has great soundtrack, superb visuals (I love this cartoonish art style), and story... Man, the story is not about saving the world or other typical things. Its about survival in a harsh land were Gods died and sun doesn't want to rest. Superb storytelling is compared to great gameplay, but you need to know that while its great, the whole thing is a bit short in the end. Expect only 9-12 hours, but, nevertheless it's time well spend.


Amazing Design

emptyhaven | Oct. 8, 2014 | See all emptyhaven's reviews »

I cannot praise the art of this game enough. The art and design is really superb, and I am deeply attracted to the sweeping lines and distinct coloring. Even the backgrounds, something not really noticeable in most games, is so well done, to the point that it invokes more than just the setting, but even sets the emotion of the game. From the clothing to the stage design, everything about this game—visually speaking—is wonderfully detailed, and I love picking out the patterns in their clothing sometimes. It's all really good. I think that they were able to keep this even with the animation is a huge plus for me. This aesthetic appeal works its way into every character dialogue as well. I didn't really expect spoken dialogue, and I appreciate a game that makes an effort to really immerse you in the game without forcing it down your throat. This is helped largely by the music. I think good music is able to set the game's feel in just as much as the art, and if so then this game has GREAT music. The battle system is not much to speak of, but it holds the most of gameplay down well enough that I have to further complaints to it. Overall, one of the most notable games to come out in the past few years. I hope that this game's legacy goes on further, banner raised for all to see.


A Must Play

mushclone298 | Oct. 8, 2014 | See all mushclone298's reviews »

Story 24/25 Graphics 23/25 Sound 24/25 Gameplay 20/25 This game is beautiful. The story is amazing, the graphics are done really well (I do have a few qualms with them), the sound and soundtrack are just so good that they feel natural to me. The gameplay is really fun and engrossing (qualms). The story will make you cry. The soundtrack will force you to buy itself. You just really need to play this game.


I can't stop coming back to this game

redhawk20854 | Sept. 26, 2014 | See all redhawk20854's reviews »

Upon reflection, I've decided that, currently, this may have quietly become one of my favorite games. A disclaimer about my preferences on most days: I prefer role playing games to first person shooters; a relaxed paced to frantic action; thoughtfulness to button mashing. With that said, this game is amazing. It manages to have both a great story and opportunities to make decisions that have real impact on the game experience. The tempo is relaxed--both because it is turned-based combat and because the storytelling, imagery, and music between the combat moments are so graceful. It is a game that you can settle into and want to come back to whenever you leave. The characters are interesting and sometimes funny, and if someone dies because a decision you make, you might even mourn their loss from your party (or play again to try to figure out how to have a different outcome). At a time when there are a lot of games to choose between, if you like games with a story, interesting characters, turn-based combat, and/or beautiful imagery and music, I recommend The Banner Saga.


Gorgeous art, good story, good gameplay

Lorddyran | Sept. 16, 2014 | See all Lorddyran's reviews »

This game fills a hole that I didn't know I had. It explores the Viking mythology a bit, which is a nice change of pace. The art is stunning, in a style I've never seen before in a game. The story is interesting enough to keep you playing, but the gameplay is where things really shine. Unfortunately, it's also where it falls short of greatness. The battles are fun, the management is interesting, and you will find yourself absorbed; however, the world will never become entirely real. It's just a little too limited in the interactions you have, just a little too game-like to suspend disbelief. Playing through this, even while I end up enjoying it, I can't help but think how much I am looking forward to seeing what they do NEXT, hopefully learning a bit from this outing.


Medieval XCOM

Ghost_Panther | Aug. 23, 2014 | See all Ghost_Panther's reviews »

If you're a fan of XCOM get this game. It isn't as good as XCOM but it still is fun to play, and it's a refreshing break from futuristic games.


A Medieval RPG Game done right.

mrminecrafter1 | July 6, 2014 | See all mrminecrafter1's reviews »

An excellent RPG game set in the medieval times that puts you into the task of starting your epic journey. The strategy involved is incredibly crafted. Every decision you make will affect in a rather different and significant way. Managing your caravan is just as important as combat in this game. Great sound design and also a really good soundtrack. The artistic style of the game is really great and fits the game nicely. Recommended.


Everything A Mid Evil Knights Era Game Should BE

Emoski12 | April 5, 2014 | See all Emoski12's reviews »

The Banner Saga, the most beautifully drawn game in existence. The artwork alone is worth more than the game itself. The fact that every character is detailed down to the stitches on their trousers. This game is a side scrolling type game, with a turn based battle style that leaves you wondering what the heck the creators were thinking. This game has so much going for it graphically, and each character actually speaks! It really draws you in and makes you feel like you know the characters. The story is amazing and the game play is fun. but the battling.. I always fall back to the battle system when I speak of this game. I just.. They could have done better. Overall worth the money, easily. 9/10


A game worthy of its name

TommyC7 | March 19, 2014 | See all TommyC7's reviews »

Its rare that I have played something so simple yet so deep and engaging. The turn based combat and decisions you make feel weighty and important make you weigh your options carefully to do the best for your heroes and those in your caravan. While you may not get to know all the characters as well as you would like they are clearly identified enough for you to care and be invested. The artwork and music beautifully enhance the experience. Multiple playthroughs and approaches is a must to get the full experience, be prepared for a frustrating but very fulfilling experience. Worth every penny.


Xcom with beards

connlasair | Feb. 4, 2014 | See all connlasair's reviews »

I stumbled upon this game by accident, but as a fan of turn-based combat, Xcom-like management and a steep difficulty curve I bought the Banner Saga right away. I am not at all disappointed. The game tells a story of varl (giants with horns) and humans as they struggle to survive in a dark time of dredge (stone-like figures) invasion. The player controls a handful of heroes leading a caravan that just tries to make it in the harsh reality of war. During the struggle the player faces myriad of difficult (often lose-lose) choices that are presented in a form of options in the dialogue box. The main characters also frequently engage in dialogues so we can learn their history, motivations and opinions. As a caravan leader, you must manage supplies (boy are they scarce!), morale of the entire group, the roster of fighters and how to spend renown points - the only currency in the game used to buy enchanted items or supplies, level up your fighters. Renown points are gained through winning battles and making dialogue choices. The combat is turn-based with a twist - the turns are always your character-enemy-your character-enemy and so forth, no matter the numbers. So you can have 6 fighters (maximum you can) against 3 enemies and it's always an even distribution of turns: you-them-you-them. I haven't made up my mind yet whether I like this system or not. It has both its advantages and disadvantages. There are five attributes: Health (the amount of punishment you can take and dish out. Lesser the health, lesser the damage output). Armor (block damage. your strength - their armor = damage). Willpower (points that grant a slight damage bonus, further movement or use of a special ability). Exertion (the amount of willpower you can spend on an action). Break (the amount of direct damage you can do to an enemy armor). Each stat is equally important and enhances the tactical aspect of the battles. The fighters come in different shapes. Varls are giants that take up 4 grids on the battlefield and humans are smaller and nimbler. As for classes you can have a spearmaster (can attack one grid away from the enemy and has the ability to impale), shieldmaster (attackim him drains armor), archer (for every point of armor the enemy lost the health damage increase), a mage even (called menders) and so on - each class has a special unique active ability (for instance taunt, which forces an enemy to attact the taunter) and one passive ability (i.e light step, which allows a character to swiftly move between big varls). The graphics are hand drawn are a pleasure to look at. Animations of the characters are very fluid and have a Disney feel to them. The music is definitely one of the highlights of this game - composed by Austin Wintory (known for the soundtrack to Journey) it sets a tone for the harrowing experience and fits perfectly to the snowy lands the game takes place in. I heard people complaining about how short the game is, but I can't really say that myself. The first playthrough took me 11 hours and I didn't even finished the game - I died in the beginning of the last chapter. Furthermore, I think the game has replay value, as you can make different choices and end up with a significantly different roster and problems along the way. Very much recommended.