Game: The Banner Saga 2
Publisher: Versus Evil
Background: I do not play strategy games often. However, I have a weak spot for a good role-playing game that is turn-based. The Banner Saga was much like that. Think of The Oregon Trail meeting Lord of The Rings. Well, its sequel continues this tale and did an amazing job. Like games of old, the choices in this game matter. Stoic Studios again delivered an immersive narrative in a viking inspired world. They did this through art and atmosphere, an addictive combat system, and player agency.
Art & Atmosphere: The gorgeous animations, the background scenery, the battlefields, and the world of The Banner Saga invite a player to immerse themselves in a Norse-influenced fantasy world that may just be ending. There is always a feeling of tension, but it is broken up by humorous dialogue and breathtaking natural beauty in caverns, valleys, rivers, and mountains.
An Addictive Combat System: On a board composed of tiles you’ll deploy your units: the fast and agile spearmen, the archers whom mostly need to be protected, the mighty varl who take up four tiles instead of one, etc.. You’ll enjoy learning how to combat the hordes of dredge, horseborn, bandits, and kragsmen. It shall be a fun time for you. My only criticism was there were less ‘battles’ (war mode) and more skirmishes.
Player Agency: Your choices matter in this game. Your decisions in dialogue effect morale and NPC’s dispositions towards you. Strategic decisions effect the outcome of the game as well. I played through twice and both times I had achieved highly different endings. AAA studios oftentimes don’t let the player achieve this via choice. You’ll eagerly replay the game after reaching one resolution to this perpetual crisis faced by Rook or Alette, and The Ravens. And let’s not forget the beings they protect.
Final Analysis: I’m eager for the sequel.