The Banner Saga is a turn based strategy RPG, well I’m not getting too much into the technical stuff, I’ll save that for my final overview. The story is what has interested me most, it is based on Norse mythology, and those of you who follow me on twitter may have seen that I take a keen interest in such things.
The game takes a moment to allow you to absorb its story, a world where war has ravaged man and Varl alike, where the gods are dead.
The tale starts in a place called strand, where you and your horny friend (sorry, I had to make that joke) stumble across a town in upheaval.
After a quick tutorial fight, where the game’s combat is laid bare, showing the movement blocks and styles/skills that are in potential, you will quickly lay waste to the enemies in the bar.
Having played Pokemon for years, Final Fantasy, Enchanted Arms and, in a review I did previously, Divinity Original Sin, I’ve come to know a lot about turn based RPG’s. This game for example is along the same lines of enchanted arms and divinity original sin.
The combat is not just turn based you see, there is actual strategy involved. Yes, this strategy may be little more than moving your character into position so that you can attack correctly, capitalise on area attacks, or force the enemy to thin their ranks – but it is strategy that so many RPG’s miss out on.
Once the various cut scenes (which all look hand drawn) you get to navigate the area map to find the next thing on your to-do list, then of course there are choices.
Now at time of writing, having legitimately played a couple of hours of TBS, I cannot say it the game delivers, but before the opening the game warns that is changes based on choices.
Now, delivery of this promise aside (time will tell) this has my attention. I like choices, and often, I make bad ones – at which point I’ll probably now win the Dutch lottery and need to pay fifty pounds to get my winnings.
All humour aside, there is a lot of core ground work to take in during this opening. The most notable thing are the characters, who whilst gloriously drawn are well written. Even from this early dialogue I am growing to learn who characters are, and which archetypes they represent.
Once through the prolonged tutorial and into the first camp, I came across something that if Enchanted arms had it, or if Divinity Original Sin had it, I may have loved those games the way I love Pokémon.
An actual training tent.
Now I know what you’re thinking, why would it be good for a game to have a training tent? Well it is the best thing in this early outing of this game for me personally. See the issue I have with a lot of strategy games is that the ‘super-easy’ tutorial is then followed with like 40+ hours of grind, which you can easily double or triple if the game has a steep difficulty arc.
This can be especially annoying if you have to contend with item degradation and potion counts etc.
So, here is a training count, four training sessions in (which is literally free playing the game) and I can play against the AI with auto-balanced enemies. BUT I am not at risk of losing health or items as these training matches are just that.
And each time so far that I have entered the tent, the formation of my enemies and enemy types have been a little different. This means that I can spend some time getting to know the intricacies of battle and tactics.
After several rounds of training I decided that my first day in the Banner saga was over. But darker things would lay just around the corner.
More on my Banner Saga experience on MGL coming up.