THE BANNER SAGA 3
Developer Stoic Publisher Versus Evil Format PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One
Stoic’s trilogy-closer makes a bold choice right at the beginning: to tell the story it needs to rather than the one you might prefer it did. Your long, arduous journey came to a natural terminus at the end of the second chapter. Now, for half the finale, you’re stuck in a city where it’s unclear which will collapse first – the surrounding walls, or the uneasy truce between the factions within them.
It’s the end of the world, and here we are, for once not arriving after the dust has settled but while it’s still being kicked up. The stakes are ever more desperate, each choice seemingly resulting in a loss of some kind. Meanwhile, out on the battlefield, new wave-based skirmishes support the theme of struggling on with what little you have left: you can have wounded units wearily limping into a second fight, or thrust greenhorns into the fray, hoping their good health will be enough to compensate for their lack of battle experience.
The secret of The Banner Saga 3’ s success – and, for that matter, the two previous instalments – is that there’s always a glimmer of humanity. Kindness doesn’t always pay off, but you’ll see hope in the way different races pull together, even as opportunists like the brilliantly loathsome Rugga create deeper rifts in an already splintered world.
It’s not an easy ride by any means, frequently pitting your gut instincts against your knowledge of, and affection for, these characters. One particularly cruel moment saw us choose to trust one character whose judgement had never before been called into question, only to see them cut down because they, too, picked heart over head. But it’s a game that respects and rewards both your emotional involvement and your tactical smarts to the bitter end. As the closing scenes play out, you realise just how much that matters.