The conclusion of the award-winning trilogy has come, and along with it, the grand devastation assured in the previous titles. Stoic Studios has always promised an apocalyptic ending for our dreary caravan tale. If you are a returning fan of the series, the Banner Saga III gives you more of the same game you love. Newcomers, on the other hand, are in for a real treat, quickly discover the Banner Saga series is rich in complex combat and Baldur’s Gate esque dialog choices.
Since these are games that are heavily story driven I wouldn’t dare to spoil any of the details unraveled in my 4-5-hour preview with Banner Saga III. The theme is a continuation of what we’ve seen in previous titles; near existentialistic dread and bittersweet victories. Resources are limited for your caravan, and every choice the player makes will cause a rippling effect in the world around them. We’ve seen the genre explore the morally grey avenue several times before, but what’s truly unique about the Banner Saga trilogy is that it does so while blending elements from other genres as well. You’ll get vibes from Final Fantasy Tactics, Oregon Trail, and even Telltale games within the lengths of the campaign. Banner Saga III did struggle at times with this dynamic task, yet the game continues to breathe life into its campaign, even after hours of engaging in what should have been repetitive combat.
Starting From Square One
I began my journey booting up the tutorial, a natural first step for my encounters with turned based video games. To my delight, Banner Saga III’s tutorial is put together wonderfully, allowing me, as a new-coming player, to gain a swift understanding of game mechanics. While many within the turned based strategy genre opt into longer, more robust tutorial, Banner Saga III’s only took me 5 minutes to complete. This method doesn’t necessarily work for all games, but the execution here is one that is certainly commendable, giving players just enough to grasp the basics of combat. It wasn’t long before I was able to sink my teeth into the bulk of the game's content found in the campaign.
Upon booting up a new game you have the option of selecting series mainstays Rook or Alette as your protagonist. Additionally, veteran players also have the option to import their saved games from the previous iterations. Many of the same RPG esque mechanics return to the Banner Saga, inheriting characteristics such as dialog choices and a leveling system called renown. There is an array of additional customization options to tinker with in the options menu as well. For instance, you can change the difficulty, language, or opt into using a gamepad at a moment’s notice. For purposes of the preview, we were able to explore chapters 16, 17, and 18 of the main story. This gave me enough time to find a rhythm with the meat of the gameplay. My time with the game typically involved the rotating of several phases: the caravan travel, meaningful choices, and combat; rinse, repeat.
If I were to describe my experience in so many words the Banner Saga III is the lovechild of Oregon Trail and Ogre Tactics. We get bleak scenarios to develop along with your caravan’s journey and the robust combat of a tactical RPG. It’s a fantastic blend that makes routine tasks such as leveling up a blast. Never did I get the sense I was catching the power curve, but never fell so behind my efforts appeared futile. It’s an excellent balance that kept me hooked for hours. Banner Saga III releases July 26 on PC/Mac, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4, marking the conclusion of the beloved trilogy (You can pre-order BS3 on Steam ). This provides just enough time for newcomers interested in the series to dive into the first two games prior to the launch of the finale. Now excuse me while I dust off my copy of the original Banner Saga.