The Ban­ner Saga 3


TechLife Australia - - DISCOVER - [ IAN DRANSFIELD ]

STOIC STU­DIO WANTED to make a tril­ogy of games telling a sin­gle story from start to fin­ish, and it’s done just that. We should all take a sec­ond to sit back and ap­pre­ci­ate how solid an achieve­ment it is for the dev to com­plete The Ban­ner Saga 3, round­ing off the tale of Vik­ings, the Dark­ness, witches and won­der as it does. This doesn’t re­ally hap­pen too of­ten in videogames. If you’ve been pay­ing at­ten­tion to The Saga so far, you’ll know the world is be­ing sub­merged un­der an ever-en­croach­ing wave of Dark­ness. If you’re re­turn­ing to the se­ries, you will be able to im­port your old saves and carry on with all de­ci­sions in­tact, but if you’ve de­cided to jump in at the third game, you are able to choose a hero and go through all of the ma­jor de­ci­sions from the pre­vi­ous two games, pick­ing your op­tions as you go. It’s an in­el­e­gant so­lu­tion, and we reckon play­ing the other games first is bet­ter, but it works well.

The story is told from mul­ti­ple view­points just like last time, al­though this time around, we have one band (un­der con­stant at­tack) sur­viv­ing in the last un­tainted hu­man set­tle­ment, and a sec­ond band (also un­der con­stant at­tack) trav­el­ling through the Dark­ness try­ing to find a so­lu­tion to the prob­lem de­stroy­ing the world. These par­al­lel sto­ries play out the same way they al­ways have in the Ban­ner se­ries. There are the story-led cutscenes where the ac­tion un­folds, you can have con­ver­sa­tions, and per­haps have to make some tough de­ci­sions. There are the bat­tles, play­ing out in a turn-based grid for­mat.

Then there’s the trav­el­ling... This has been an area, which, in pre­vi­ous Saga games, has rubbed some peo­ple up the wrong way, but one in which we find an odd level of com­fort mixed with ap­pre­hen­sion. These are hand­soff sec­tions in which you watch your band mak­ing its way through the land­scape. Morale rises and falls, sup­plies are con­sumed, peo­ple die and en­coun­ters abound. These en­coun­ters can lead to more bat­tles, though others might lead to more sup­plies or new mem­bers join­ing the band. Other en­coun­ters might seem in­signif­i­cant, only to come back and bite you in the be­hind later on. The Ban­ner Saga is, just as the dev has al­ways in­tended, a rich ta­pes­try of jour­neys and des­ti­na­tions, sto­ries and in­ter­ac­tions, and in­evitable, un­avoid­able blood­shed. And it’s re­ally pretty lovely.

We won’t spoil any­thing of The Ban­ner Saga 3’ s end­ing, but we just want to re­it­er­ate how happy we are to see a planned tril­ogy, telling a sin­gle story, re­lease, in full, over a rea­son­able amount of time, with ev­ery in­stal­ment be­ing a de­cent game. That isn’t to say it’s per­fect. It isn’t the best turn-based tac­tics game out there, and it doesn’t fea­ture the most en­gross­ing story ei­ther. But it ends up be­ing far greater than the sum of its parts. If there’s no other way you could play the first two games in the se­ries, we’d still rec­om­mend giv­ing this third one a go — but to re­ally see what Stoic has achieved with this tril­ogy, it all has to be played.

Thanks to the choices you make, no two sto­ries will ever be com­pletely alike, and few se­ries are able to de­liver that level of per­son­al­i­sa­tion across mul­ti­ple games. We’re hope­ful for more from Stoic in the fu­ture, but for now, this is a Saga that’s come to a sat­is­fy­ing close.

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