07th Aug2018

‘The Banner Saga 3’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Britt Roberts


I found reviewing The Banner Saga 3 to be a bit strange as the recap of the story thus far seemed really brief but the way the game was presented was in such a way that I felt like I was supposed to have a deep connection with the characters, but as I have never played the previous games and the recap was only a few seconds long, I just had no connection whatsoever and I feel this really affected my time with the game.

The tutorial for the game also only took a couple of minutes to complete and left me feeling ill-prepared for the challenge ahead as the basic moves were glossed over with no characters introduced specifically, so I just assumed it was a ‘jump in and work out the nuances for yourself’ sort of a situation. The game starts in the midst of a huge siege, after choosing your troops from a large selection of characters (centaurs, horned-Viking -giants, humans and others); you are given the task of holding off a massive horde of attackers. The first thing that struck me was how tasty I found the art-style. It reminded me of vintage Disney with its slightly washed-out aesthetic and animation. The music was suitably doom-laden (also oddly repetitive, it seemed like a short loop of horn blasts and booming war drums) but as I moved around the battle field hacking down attackers (the attacks range from wince-inducing to seemingly feeble), I found myself losing interest pretty quickly.

The Banner Saga 3 is quite a traditional setup of turn-based attacks with each unit-type having special attacks but as I had no personal history with these characters, I didn’t care who died, to me they were just disposable faces on a battle field. The art design really is top-notch and I would like to have learned more but leaping into the third part of this trilogy really doesn’t seem to be the way to go as a lot of the story is completely lost and therefore any emotional involvement.

The game play is solid and quite classic stuff, you have certain amounts of energy and movement to expend upon each turn and a willpower meter that can either be used to give you extra moves or a heavier attack but there was nothing in the game that felt new, or a game play hook to keep me playing. The delivery of the story and conversations between characters is very direct and austere, making it a huge change from the often colourful and overblown delivery of similar Japanese turn-based games which I can imagine being very refreshing to long-term players of the turn-based genre.

In summary, if you are a fan of the series thus far this will undoubtedly be up your strasse as it appears to continue the same formula from the previous titles to its steely-faced conclusion. The austere low fantasy approach is also quite refreshing when compared to other games in the genre but, if you are thinking of trying out the game from scratch, I definitely recommend that you start from the first game, as this isn’t a series that you can just dip into as you’ll be losing a lot of the heart and story of The Banner Saga by skipping to this final chapter…as I did.

The Banner Saga 3 is out now on Nintendo Switch.


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