How long have I been under this rock…. ah a good four years it seems….
The Banner Saga 1 – Nintendo Switch – Released: 5/17/18 – $19.99
Short Review (Review copy provided by Stoic Studio)
Ever turn on a game and right away know that it is going to be a fun time… Banner Saga is one of those games for me. Not going to lie, I enjoy many games on the Switch but it is a shame that I let this game pass me by not once, but multiple times. I remember seeing this on Kickstarter in 2012, saw its release in 2014, and would see it on sale multiple times on PS4 and Steam. The art style sadly was something I could never get behind but that is my own fault for allowing a game to slip so far. The Banner Saga 1 tries to tell a huge story in a short period of time being mindful of how long to stay on one topic. It is quick and to the point with its solid RPG elements. If you are looking at this review you already know how much a success this game is with the third chapter coming out very soon. It is impressive to see such a successful Kickstarter go from a project to a trilogy story within six years. I would give Banner Saga 1 a 9 out of 10, while sometimes enemies can be brutal and keeping track of supplies is a pain, it is how this game quickly tries to explain things that got me confused at some points.
To the West of the land, Varls are the last of the giant viking-like creatures but when the Dredge, ancient monsters, return and kill most of your race, you are only left with a few. Being the last of a race is rough but leading your people to safety is even harder when ancient monsters have rose once more finish you off. To the East, Rook and his daughter travel find a lone Dredge and escape back to the town. After finding out that more are coming Rook and his Varl friend, Iver, lead the people to safety. Combining forces they plan to take down the Dredge. I don’t want to spoil much as the game is through a lot of text… I didn’t even touch the surface because you are able to go into the map and look up every little detail about this world. You will find dozens of hours worth of text to look up on your own that will expand the story even further.
There are two parts to the gameplay. You will need to take care of your people by giving them food and supplies. Restocking in needed if you want to do well in the game. I like to think of this part of the game as an Oregon Trail style since not keeping up supplies will have effects on moral. The other part is combat which is a turn based RPG style. Controlling different units you will need to take our enemies and your enemies will take turns against you. Depending on the unit you will either be melee or ranged.
Each enemy has a two bars, armor and health. If the armor is high there is a chance the enemy will be able to block damage. When attacking you have the option to break armor to deal more damage in the next turn or attack to deal damage and risk them protecting themselves. Some enemies will require a mix of both or you will need to break some armor to guarantee you will be able to kill the enemy the following turn.
Each character has a “Willpower” that will allow some units to move further or do more damage during a turn. These are change the tide of battle if you have enough points as you may only need one more hit of damage to kill an enemy that might be in a position to kill one of your characters. Characters have special moves as well that can be useful to the time with buffs or cause more damage or do an attack move that hits multiple enemies around them. As you play the game you will be able to get new equipment by purchasing them in towns.
Even though the game is fairly short in comparison to other RPGs it gets to the point. The game is told by walls and walls of text so if you don’t enjoy reading or listening to characters talk you won’t enjoy this game. I found myself with the Switch in kickstand mode next to me as I did other things to listen to the story. It is a game that takes a lot of time in the story department as battles are more of a secondary thing to progress some of the story. I loved being able to listen to the story but the art style still bothers me and some of the elements in the game are passed quickly due to the shortness of the game. If the game was around 20-25 hours with some padding it would have been great. As I would have picked up on the early elements over time instead of right away. You will understand all gameplay elements within a few hours and the game was beaten within 15 for me.
I loved this game but minor things held me back like the art style and some of the animation that look chopping. Besides that it is a great start to a series that I can’t wait to finish and check out. I would give this game a 9 out of 10!
My Gameplay Footage:
Recording gameplay all this week before I go away. A lot to catch up on if you have been looking at older reviews slowly adding videos.
Keeping these short again as I near my short “vacation” to deal with some personal matters with my family.
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