The Banner Saga 3 – Review
Follow Genre: Turn Based Tactical Role Playing Game
Developer: Stoic Studio
Publisher: Versus Evil
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, Switch
Tested on: Switch

The Banner Saga 3 – Review

Site Score
8.4
Good: Storyline, Music
Bad: The view on the battlefield at times
User Score
8.7
(3 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 8.7/10 (3 votes cast)

Only recently, we reviewed The Banner Saga and The Banner Saga 2 on our site. Versus Evil decided to release the two games on Nintendo’s switch, as a warm-up for The Banner Saga 3, the brand new and final installment of the series. We were very eager to see that it was finally released. Since we were already enthusiastic about the previous games, we couldn’t wait to see how the story ended. Don’t be alarmed, we won’t spoil the ending for you, but we will share our thoughts on this long awaited game.

Story

The caravan under either Rook’s or Alette’s leadership (depending on the choice you made at the end of the first Banner Saga game), has finally reached Arberrang, the human capital. They’ve been fighting off dredge, and running away from the darkness that is coming, but now Arberrang is the only place on earth not yet consumed by it. While Rook (or Alette) tries to deal with both internal and external difficulties in Arberrang, Juno goes on an expediton with the Ravens and Iver. Protected by Juno’s bubble of light, they head into the darkness, to try and stop whatever is causing this darkness, somewhere still finding that sparkle of hope that they might succeed. Whatever happens, the saga will come to an end now.

While before the game was about surviving and traveling to safer grounds, this time it seems like hope is almost entirely lost, and soon the whole world will be consumed by darkness. Instead of the days counting up, they now count down, showing you how many days are left until complete darkness. As usual, you’ll have a lot of story to plow through, and all decisions matter. The story continues to be thrilling, and really sucks you in even more than before.

Graphics

It’s clear that The Banner Saga 3 received a graphical update, though it mostly still stays true to the format we’re used to. Characters still hardly move during cutscenes, and the format is still pretty much the same. Nonetheless, everything looks even more detailed and refined in this third installment, and now that the darkness is coming very close, everything that is consumed by the darkness is embedded in a purple sheen, making the game look quite grim and mysterious, which suits the story perfectly.

Sound

The music in the game is different than the music used in the first two games, but similar enough to provide the same atmosphere of doubt and darkness. It wouldn’t even be a lie to say that the music is one of the most important features of the game, and one of the most effective ones at creating this beautiful grim atmosphere. The sounds during combat are still pretty much the same, so fans of the previous games will not notice much difference.

Gameplay

The Banner Saga 3 is a strategic RPG, just like the previous two installments. Gameplay remains pretty much the same, meaning you’ll have turn based combat, until either you or the enemy has only one warrior left. Next to that, you’ll still have to read through a lot of the story, often having to make significant decisions which will have a big impact on the rest of the story. Other than what we were used to in the previous games, in this one you’ll have to think even more before choosing what you’ll ask another character, as you often won’t have the chance to ask the other questions once you’ve made your decision.

While the game still uses turn based combat, there are a few things that have changed. First of all, you will now have a predetermined amount of turns during battle. This means that you’ll have to move more quickly to kill your enemies, as once it gets to zero, another wave of enemies will appear, rendering it almost impossible to win the battle. This definitely adds a lot more difficulty to the game, yet at the same time it makes the game move forward more quickly, as you simply don’t have the time.

When playing Juno’s storyline, you’ll notice a purple orb at the top of your screen during combat. In the first two games, there was a war horn there, which, for every kill granted you one more willpower. Now, in this third game, each kill allows one of your characters to do rock lightning, quite a powerful attack that will definitely grant you some advantage. When Juno falls in combat, she becomes a ghost. As long as she’s a ghost, she can’t do or take any damage, but she can earn strength again to eventually get back to the battlefield.

After winning a battle, from now on you’ll be asked whether you want to keep fighting or not. If you do, you’ll be able to choose six new warriors to conquer the second wave of enemies, but it also means that you’ll have more injuries, which may cost you in the long run. You can also choose to walk away, but if you defeat the second wave of enemies, you’ll earn an interesting item. Up to you to decide what would be best.

Enemies are more powerful than ever in this game, and when they die, they leave ashes behind, which will damage your characters when they move over it, so you’ll have to tread carefully. Overall, the game is quite difficult, and makes you make decisions quite often. As has been the case since the first installment of the series, your decisions really do make a difference, and can have a strong impact on the rest of the game, so it’s definitely not easy to figure out what your best bet is. One mistake during combat can easily make the game turn completely, so you’ll constantly have to be alert. While the impact of your decisions is a real strong point about the game, it’s sometimes a bit frustrating that your view isn’t always optimal, and you might be making the wrong decisions because of it. Certainly when playing on the small screen of your switch, it’s often difficult to see what you’re doing.

A fun feature we must mention about this game is that, just like in the previous installment, you can upload your save game from The Banner Saga 2, and keep going from there. This means that the decisions you made in the previous games can really still have an impact in this game, as to which characters are still alive, and which level they are at. It allows for beautiful character build, and a unique story for almost every gamer. If you haven’t played the previous games, or haven’t finished them, you can of course just start off with a standard set of characters.

Conclusion

With the Banner Saga 3, the saga comes to an end. All hope is almost lost, yet you’ll have to try and turn the tide before it’s too late. It’s definitely not easy to fight off your enemies, and you’ll have to make important decisions, without really knowing if they were actually the right ones, yet every decision counts, so choose wisely. The gameplay in The Banner Saga 3 was updated a bit, but definitely hasn’t been made easier. Nonetheless, you’ll still for the most part have the same experience as in the first two installments, which means turn based battles, where tactics are everything. We definitely enjoyed this last one of the trilogy, and absolutely recommend it if you’ve played the first two installments as well. If you’re new to the series, it might be best to start at the beginning though, as a lot of the story will become much more clearer this way.

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Rating: 8.7/10 (3 votes cast)
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The Banner Saga 3 - Review, 8.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
Ibuki
Ibuki


Aspiring ninja.

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