The Banner Saga
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August 7th, 2014, 05:44
Just finished this tonight. I think the best way I can sum up my feelings is 'The Whole is more than the sum of the parts.' By that I mean that I found a lot of things annoying and/or confusing about it, and they vastly outnumber the things that I did like, but overall, I enjoyed it and felt like it was money well spent.
Unique concept - seemed part RPG, part strategy, part Adventure
Beautiful artwork - from seeing some early screenshots, I wasn't sure how they'd make it work, but they did
Fun game play over all
Interesting combat that was pretty well done as turn based
The travelling sequence gets old real quick. It also wasn't clear to me until about 2/3 through that I could exit out during it (since I was playing during my daily subway commute, I kind of needed to exit right after I got to my stop).
Having the currency, Renown, be used both for buying supplies and leveling characters seemed odd to me and I have difficulty balancing it. I think having to choose between supplies and the add-ons for your NPC's was fine, but adding in leveling didn't make sense
The dialogue - Not a big con, but it seemed a bit amateur at times as many indy titles do. A world better than the dialogue you see in most fan made projects, but still well below AAA studios. Not a deal breaker, but many times it seemed either cheesy or just not in character
Not having a main character or rather having multiple ones - Is this normal in strategy RPG hybrids? I've never encountered it myself, but I don't tend to play those types of games. It made me feel much less connected to the game than I do when I have a single NPC (or even when I have a party I've completely created). Particularly it was weird when you go to a scene and its starts with 'You blah blah blah' and then its a new character. Heck one character it does that and its not even one you can bring into your party!
Meaningful choices? I didn't see them. In fact, several times I went through dialogue trees completely choosing different options and it didn't matter what I said, the same result occurred every time. I guess maybe the choice was made much earlier and this was the result, but its not very clear. Which goes into the next part.
I felt more like I was playing a book, just tagging along for the story rather than helping shape it to any extent. I could make superficial changes, but nothing major. Perhaps that's incorrect, but that's how it seemed. I found the overland map completely pointless. Sure it shows you where you are, but so what? You can't choose where to go next with it. Its informative (slightly) and not much else.
Recycling some of the character designs caused confusion as well. I thought the two groups had joined up much sooner than they actually do.
Two things about the combat really annoyed me - that each side gets the same number of turns until pillage occurs. It completely changes your tactics. You have to be careful to not kill off the weak enemies, otherwise the strong enemies get more attacks in each round! That makes absolutely zero sense to me. The second was not being able to attack diagonally. I just don't understand that at all
I also found the special abilities either not worth it or hard to use effectively. My entire tactics seemed to boil down to figuring out the best order to kill the enemies and how far I needed to break their armor down.
Three things about the story bothered me too. Without going into spoilers too much:
1) They really go into details about the various godstones you come across and the history of the land, but frankly its pointless to the central story. The central story is nothing more than flee the horde and try to fight them off when you have to. What's the point of all that other stuff? Was content cut? Does it lead into a sequel or something?
2) A pretty major thing seems to occur, then has zero effect on the game. Again was content cut? Is this building us up for a sequel? (If so, the ending sequence needs some work)
3) The ending sequence - without giving too much detail, I haven't been this let down by an ending since Icewind Dale. There is at least a bit of a prologue here, but the story basically just ends. Again is it leading us to a sequel and if so, this ending needs some work.
All that said though, I enjoyed the game! I'm not one to generally complain about annoyances within a game, so honestly I'm a bit baffled how a game that I find that many cons with still ends up being something I would recommend.
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