Seeing the release on January 14th, I was tempted to look into this FinalFantasyTactics-esque game that was so espoused by many on Steam and Kickstarter.
Beautiful images, a nordic-viking flair, a story spanning a continent and a turn-based combat system leave a few things left to desire, if all is made as well as one can hope.
The story of The Banner Saga is about the events surrounding the traveling caravans in the lands of the north, where the sun has stopped descending and is evershining at an angle bringing the allwayswinter to the doorsteps of the fragile lands of man and varl, a race of giant horned humanoids. In this winter it is, that the game story follows the events of several protagonists and their ilk around the travels of the land, adding political intrigue,
wilderness, dangerous old enemies from ages past and new enemies made on the decisions of the player a part of the saga itself.
And here we have one of the main selling points of the game. Between battles you have dialogue sequences where you can talk to others and have decisions to make that influence your standing among your peers and the caravan and world as a whole, making, nay, forcing you to choose a path throughout and adding to the replay value of the game, if only for the nuances the story presents.
Now, with the story out of the way, let us look at the real meat of the game, which is the battle system. Events are played out either in storyline and a nice looking animated sort or during a tactical isometric view on a battlefield where participants are looking to bash their heads in.
The game bases the battles system around a turn oder of "I go/You go" and each unit has a number of values that are important to the ongoing battle. Every unit posses an armor rating, negating hits to it´s direct strength, a strength value, that is synonymous for attack strength as well as hitpoints and a willpower rating, that defines the ability to do more than just "simple damage", allowing for special attacks or abilites to be used and normal abilites to be strengthened, like a stronger attack etc. Each unit is promoted on the basis of how many units it has killed and how much renown, a basic game currency you gain for killing the enemy and winning battles, you are willing to pay for its upgrade, when you are allowed to add points to their abilites.
Like FFT, the game promotes a healthy mix of units and teamwork as well as good tactical thinkers, but as always, not all battles are won in fighting the enemy, as the story mode will show.
Ultimately, The Banner Saga is a nice little game with a bit of a Flash vibe that is a bit too expensive for the stuff it brings. Should it´s price ever fall to 10 bucks/euros, then I can only endorse buying it, otherwise, be patient.
Similarly, it´s not for everyone. If you do not have the patience to play a battle turn for turn and enjoy reading some dialogue sequences as not even half of the game dialogue is voiced, then this is not the game for you.