Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Banner Saga

I decided last week, while I was working on Gridiron Solitaire almost constantly, that I needed to play a game.

Not my game--I was playing that four or five hours a day already. I needed to get out of my own head.

I've been looking forward to the Banner Saga from the day I saw the Kickstarter campaign. The hand-drawn, old-school, visuals reminded me of a full-length animated feature from a bygone era.

That was more than enough for me. I was hooked. So when I decided to play something, it was an easy choice.

I've spent nearly 4 hours with the game now, and it's wonderful. It's also different, in a good way. It's a game that demands to be played on its own terms, so let me explain those terms and talk about the game in general.

First off, the visuals are magnificent. My God, they're beautiful. I feel like I'm playing an old-school Disney cartoon, both in the still images and the animation. I cannot overstate how stunning and wonderful the visuals are, and how many little details you'll notice that will immerse you even further into the world.

Second, this is a story-driven game, and that's one of the "own terms" I mentioned earlier. There are long stretches of story and conversations, and I find them tremendously charming and engaging. The Banner Saga is a very personal, intimate game. Characters have relationships. There is nuance. I feel emotions as I play.

I also find the combat very engaging, but it is less important than the story. This is a game about relationships and destinies and family, and combat is not the focus. So if you want a combat-heavy game, you will be disappointed. This is a unique blend of a fascinating story that is told in considerable depth, along with a turn-based battle engine that is surprisingly satisfying. Make no mistake, though--primarily, you are the leader of a clan, not a warrior.

The Banner Saga is unique to a degree that I really can't compare it to anything else. And it is obviously so carefully made, so lovingly crafted, that I have nothing but respect and admiration for the developers.

Expect to be drawn into a complex story with interesting characters. The Banner Saga is a hand-drawn myth, come to life.

Here's the website: The Banner Saga.

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