After waiting long years for the very last instalment of Stoic’s fantastical strategy trilogy, The Banner Saga 3 starts within the fine possible manner. It choices up wherein the second The Banner Saga 2 left off, and one of the first things you get to do is punch your scheming arch nemesis – who possibly made your remaining moments of that 2nd recreation a right misery – rectangular inside the face.
you could punch him so tough, in reality, that you may completely destroy his nose for the relaxation of the game. it is an immensely satisfying moment in a series that, up till now, has been greater a battle of attrition and bleak perseverance than anything else. sadly, it right away goes back to being a chunk grim again, and quite lots stays that way till the credit begin rolling. Is it the finishing we’ve all been watching for? right here’s wot I think.
it is hard to speak about The Banner Saga three without mentioning the opposite two. this is very a whole lot the climax of Stoic’s ongoing story, and gambling it with none earlier understanding of the others would be a bit like beginning your first Lord of the rings marathon with return of the King after which questioning why all and sundry’s so hell-bent on murdering this dusty Frodo lad.
sure, there may be a recap video on the primary menu to remind you exactly what went down in the first two games, and even a dedicated educational mode if you’re completely new and/or forgotten how it all works – because permit me tell you, the main recreation would not spend any time protecting the ground guidelines again till the well new bits come up.
however for motives i’ll provide an explanation for in a minute, i’d argue The Banner Saga three is really geared toward present Saga-ites handiest. The individuals who, like me, have already trudged to and fro throughout this suitable, decaying fable world, gritted their teeth thru its repetitive fight, and are now ready to peer whether or not their perhaps-proper-perhaps-not text adventure-style decisions will store this dying land from the encroaching darkness and world-eating serpent ripping it to portions. i would not suggest coming to it absolutely clean.
like the first games, there are two foremost recognition points within the final leg of this adventure, and the story shifts from side to side among them. half of of your celebration at the moment are encamped within the ultimate human stronghold of Arberrang – the game’s Minas Tirith, if you’ll – and their process is to preserve this melting pot of warring factions, determined civilians and strength-hungry dissidents from tearing each different’s throats out, ensuring there may be nevertheless something left at the give up of it all, if and when the darkness subsequently lifts and the frozen sun starts transferring once more.
the opposite half are heading north on a Sam and Frodo-fashion do-or-die project to try to prevent this apocalypse once and for all. covered from the darkness by way of the Valka witch Juno, this specific strand is The Banner Saga at its maximum familiar. here, your band of warriors haul their worn-out limbs across lengthy, winding landscapes which are by some means even extra beautiful than before, notwithstanding being warped six ways to Sunday by the spreading red gloom. it’s a actual visible treat to revisit these antique places of their newly twisted country, and it makes you understand simply how a ways you’ve come and what type of devastation you have narrowly been averting all this time.
it’s also wherein you do the majority of the game’s preventing. forget the Dredge. the new baddies of The Banner Saga 3 are the Warped, the misplaced souls who didn’t make it to Arberrang for your trek westwards and have turn out to be corrupted via the darkness. All right, they may be basically simply gloopier, meltier variations of all of the enemies you have fought before, man and Dredge alike, but their newly mutated bureaucracy and unique capabilities do add a brand new wrinkle to The Banner Saga’s time-worn, tile-based totally approach battles.
The basics are precisely similar to the primary games. Your power stat nevertheless doubles up as your universal health, armour nonetheless must be chipped away if you’re now not strong enough to get past it, and willpower can nonetheless be spent activating special assaults, beefing up your ordinary assaults, or helping your characters traverse some more tiles on its grid-primarily based war map.
a few Warped, however, can soak up power damage if they’ve still got self-control factors left to spend, and almost all of them explode upon loss of life, leaving strength of mind-sapping swimming pools of goop of their wake. The latter turns into in particular dangerous if you come to be herding a lot of them into the equal cluster of tiles – even as your willpower receives nuked standing on these tiles, they get a self-discipline bonus. those goop spots do fade over time, however these self-inflicted dangers sincerely move an extended manner to make up for the overall lack of range in its conflict grids, which are by and big simply large empty squares.
sooner or later, even though, The Banner Saga 3’s combat falls into exactly the equal entice as its predecessors. As tons as it feels clearly fresh for the primary few hours, you soon understand you are being hounded by using the equal 1/2 dozen or so enemy sorts each fight, and it all will become a bit of a drag – particularly whilst, for reasons I may not damage in the course of the second one half of of the game, time is really of the essence. XCOM, this ain’t.
It does not assist that maximum of the characters to your Sam and Frodo birthday celebration are stuck with such piddly stats, making them sick-ready to cope with a number of enemies reliably on their personal. Even if you’ve imported an vintage store file in which they are as buff as they may be, you will quick locate several characters’ stats max out properly beneath your common Warped, which as an alternative forces you to rely completely to your trusty massive Varl and a couple of other beefier favourites.
you could pour factors earned from levelling up your characters into extra skills – which includes giving them a higher risk of soaking up or even averting strength and armour harm, as an example – however fundamentally, it nevertheless would not trade the fact that maximum of my birthday celebration can nevertheless be worn out in a single hit, particularly when the latter a part of the game’s trouble curve takes a steep climb north. This stagnates the game’s experience of variety even similarly, as you’re not best dealing with the identical enemies more than one instances, however you’re additionally the usage of exactly the equal birthday party members to take them out. i might much alternatively change skills for higher max stats any day.
It additionally discouraged me from enticing much with The Banner Saga 3’s other new feature: wave battles. At certain points within the tale, you’ll only have a restricted range of turns to take out your foe earlier than a brand new batch pitches up. if you succeed, you get a threat to change out your injured for clean blood and keep on for the threat to earn uncommon treasures you can equip later on, or just excessive-tail it out of there and keep on with the tale. The handiest trouble is that none of my reserve birthday celebration were everywhere close to able to surviving a whole wave, so I often just legged it and carried on – which every now and then makes narrative feel, however in general feels a chunk contrived.
The disadvantage is that if you fail, you’re stuck dealing with a clean wave of Warped with whoever’s nevertheless standing, no substitutions allowed. This prompted a truthful share of reloads while this took place to me (made even greater infuriating through The Banner Saga’s vague and often sporadic automobile-saving), as there has been no manner in hell i was going to defeat extra than half of a dozen clean Warped with just remaining characters on half of health. perhaps i’m just now not superb at keeping humans alive inside the Banner Saga 3, but no-win situations like this just aren’t very fun.
combat continues to be a piece of a dud, then, however fortuitously, The Banner Saga 3 virtually can provide on the old text-journey the front. This has constantly been The Banner Saga’s greatest power in my books, and you still have a tangible effect over the activities of each components of the story proper up till the very stop – particularly whilst it shifts returned on your Arberrang team.
you continue to do a bit of fighting in Arberrang – there continue to be loads of Dredge camped outdoor the partitions, in the end – however this a part of the tale does go through really for being confined to a single area. I were given instead sick of marching my a thousand+ strong caravan from side to side among the main hall and metropolis gates time after time, and i felt Stoic may want to have done extra with the city’s artwork to better painting its gradual descent into frenzied desperation.
fortuitously, as someone who is strolled into city with the respect of what seems to be at least half of the city’s populace in tow, you get to do plenty of the selection-making on the way to address this disaster, and the choices you make here bring about some of the game’s largest and maximum heartbreaking set pieces. they’ll not be as interesting or exciting as the Banner Saga 2’s iconic floating rock bridge getaway, for example, but the stakes have in no way been better for the perilous town of Arberrang, and the ultimate factor you want to do is mess up all the hard paintings you’ve put in to get to this rattling town in the first place.
I won’t go into the info as they’re fine left found for your self, but i was surprised with the aid of just how brilliantly it includes all your preceding selections from your beyond playthroughs. after I played The Banner Saga 2, for instance, I had a sincerely rough time. Being the nice man or woman i am, i ended up selecting up every waif and stray viable, which took a big toll on each my food resources and my caravan’s basic morale. when morale is low, you get penalised with fewer strength of mind points, making each combat that bit tougher, and by the end i used to be just happy it was all over.
in the Banner Saga three, all the ones hours of grind and toil from the preceding games were subsequently made to sense worthwhile – and rattling it felt excellent. that is store-importing carried out proper, and something i hope other studios (*cough*Telltale*cough*) research from within the destiny.
do not worry if you failed to come to be with a a thousand+ sturdy caravan, though – there may be an initial panic around a positive mid-recreation event, however Stoic’s narrative structure does the entirety in its electricity to get you via to the opposite aspect. trust me.
in the end, though, whether or not you have a satisfying ending or no longer is very much down to your picks, and yours by myself – which, for a recreation like this, could not be more fitting. yes, it runs the chance of being a large anti-climax if you make some duff selections, but even that has a kind of poetic justice to it – it is just some other tragic story to be woven into your ever-eventful banner.
standard, I think you will have a good finishing – and one really worth the ache you have had to endure over the route of those collective 40-ordinary hours. and even if you don’t, at least you may never be faced with the question of why Frodo simply did not use an eagle to plop the ring into Mount Doom and feature completed with it all.