THE BAN­NER SAGA 3

De­vel­oper Stoic Pub­lisher Ver­sus Evil For­mat PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One

EDGE - - THE EDGE AWARDS -

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.

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