The Banner Saga Review


Back in 2014 The Banner Saga released on the PC and mobile devices, receiving a great reception from critics and gamers alike, with both parties singing its praises. Here we are then, in 2016, and The Banner Saga has finally got a console release. Does the this “new” version maintain the high standards of the initial release did? You bet.

Game: The Banner Saga
Developer: Stoic Studio
Publisher: Versus Evil
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4

(Review code provided by publisher)

Let me start by saying that The Banner Saga completely bypassed my radar when it was first released in 2014, mainly because I tend not to use my PC for gaming purposes. However, after playing it for hours upon end, I can only thank the gaming Gods for the PlayStation 4 release. It’s an RPG, but one that feels fresh and unique

Starting with the story (the bread and butter of any RPG), The Banner Saga’s tale focuses mainly on the end of the world. The Sun has failed to move, bringing humans and Varl (giant Gods) together to stop the Dredge, a powerful army with a knack for destruction. Bleak, I know. It’s a good story, but what really makes it stand out are the choices thrown at you. Every decision you make has consequences on you and your party, no matter how simple it may seem. Thus, of course, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone taking the exact same path through the story as yours. Another area where the story shines is the characters. You see, there isn’t just one main character. The Banner Saga lets you play from the perspective of several characters, all written and switched up really well.

It also helps that The Banner Saga looks damn gorgeous. I’m a sucker for games with a unique look, and that’s exactly what Stoic’s beauty serves up. Backgrounds are vibrant, animations are fluid and, well, it just looks plain slick. It looked great on the PC, and the development team has done the game complete justice on the PS4. The same and more can be said about the soundtrack. Produced by the extremely talented Austin Wintory (Journey, Flow, Assassin’s Cred: Syndicate and more), the music is simply marvellous. Every single note compliments the tone of the game perfectly. Even if The Banner Saga isn’t your type of game, I strongly recommend listening to and buying the soundtrack. It’s that good.

On the other hand, if The Banner Saga is your kind of game (RPG fan), you’ll be pleasantly surprised by its gameplay. There is a hell of a lot of dialogue to read through, and I do wish there was a bit more voice acting, but The Banner Saga represents an RPG going back to its old school roots. At its core is the battle system, taking inspiration from the likes of Final Fantasy Tactics and Shining Force. By that I mean it’s a strategic and turn-based system. I’ll be honest, when I entered into my first battle in The Banner Saga, I wasn’t sure about what I was playing. The controls felt weird, like I was playing a peculiar game of chess. A few hours later though (there is a learning curve), I started enjoying it. I suddenly found myself strategically outclassing my AI opponents, feeling a sense of satisfaction after each victory.

Once you spend some time with the game (just like I did), you’ll become one with the combat and the system that governs it. It’s all about planning your attacks, working out how you can move your troops across the chess-like grid to take advantage of your strength and take down opposing forces. Sounds simple, but when you factor in elements such as enemy armour and the fact that willpower stats restrict your movement it can become quite tricky. That said, it’s never unfair. It’s always a fair challenge. You just need to be clever about your movement, utilising abilities such as firing arrows.

The only real niggle I have with the Banner Saga that it’s a bit on the short side for an RPG. I completed my first playthrough in ten hours. Sure, it’s £15.99, but I still expected it to offer more content to get stuck into. Fortunately, the branching story will definitely entice me to go through it a second and third time, as I’d love to see how the story develops when I make different choices.


There is no doubt about it, The Banner Saga is fantastic. Yes, it’s on the short side compared to other RPGs, but it’d be a crime to dismiss it based on that. Priced at £15.99, if you’re into tactical RPGs, I strongly recommend picking up this wonderful game. With a sequel planned for release later this year, I am very excited to see how Stoic build on this gem. It’s early days, but I can genuinely see The Banner Saga being one my highlights of the year when 2016 comes to an end.


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