banner saga 2 review
What is a game without a compelling story and enchanting characters? Thankfully, The Banner Saga 2 provides us plenty of both, so we will never have to find out. This turn based Strategy game pulls you in with an epic story from the start. I was hesitant because I had not had the privilege of playing the first, but the team at Stoic made the game easy to play even for a beginner to the story line.
You start the game with a big choice between playing as Rook or his daughter, Alette. This choice affects the dialogue from the NPC’s throughout the world. If you play as Alette, you quickly learn her father was killed and she is taking over as the chieftain of a clan of vikings. I chose to play as Alette, because who doesn’t want to play a fiery red headed viking with a bow? The game takes no time with showcasing their combat system as it starts you with a combat tutorial.
The combat system is very similar to what you would see in a tabletop game. I was heavily reminded of the D20 system seen in Dungeons and Dragons. It really works for this style of game, quick to learn, and presents unique strategies and challenges. While playing, one of the most notable things about the combat to me was that none of it felt forced or gratuitous. Everything in this game revolves heavily on the story and has a purpose. The fights are used to highlight the struggles that Alette and her clan are going through on their journey.
If combat was not enough to keep our heroine busy, she also must worry about managing supplies and people as well as making the difficult choices about when and where her caravan will travel. These choices can seriously affect the morale of both the heroes and the caravan which can have disastrous effects on your progress and possibly cause you to fail if they stack up enough.
I want to take a moment and talk about how incredible it was that such a small team could create such a beautiful game. Arnie Jorgensen is a god among artists. I was simply blown away by the art in this game. It is clear that he comes from a comic book background, but every scene in this game is stunning. The team did such an amazing job blending all of the elements of a wonderful gaming experience into this simplistic but elegant game.
Banner Saga 2 sets itself apart from most turn based strategy games by not just being a map of some world where you build an army and try to annihilate your adversaries. It really draws you in and makes you care about the characters and choices you make. It is not simply a point and click kind of game. I felt that something was at risk with every choice I made and felt the pressure of being the shepherd of these people in such a hard and dark time. In short, I fell in love with this magical experience of a well told story and an even better game.
I highly recommend that you all go and experience this game for yourself. It truly is one of the best Indie games I have played all year. However, I will caution if you are looking for a fast paced button mashing experience this game is not for you. It is for the gamer who loves a rich story and does not mind taking their time to wrap themselves in it like a warm blanket. I personally cannot wait to sit back down at my computer and get lost in the world of Banner Saga 2 once more!