The Banner Saga 3 is the final and long-awaited final console episode in the trilogy. Has the wait been worth it? Find out in our The Banner Saga 3 review!
The Banner Saga 3 Trailer
Players of previous episodes can import their save games, but new players won’t be left out since they can dive straight in by watching the recap sequences which will tell them what they missed in The Banner Saga 1 and 2. This final The Banner Saga episode isn’t less grim nor challenging than the previous ones, and it follows the journey of Rook or Alette, the two characters that can be selected.
This is a double review for The Banner Saga 3. The game was played by ThaRaven403 and Tracey. This review presents what they both had to say.
After selecting Alette or Rook, the game kicks off from Chapter 16, which continues where The Banner Saga 2 left off. The gameplay of this episode is mostly the same as it was for previous episodes, and every choice made still affects the outcome of the game. You will have multiple choice dialogue options which offers some replayability for the game to see how different dialogue choices change things and how they affect the ending of the game. Now that all three episodes are out, this is the best opportunity to play this episode as you can play all three episodes back to back while exploring all dialogue options.
The combat system is the same as the one from previous episodes: its turn-based and on a grid, with a party of up to six members of your choosing. You can move your characters anywhere within the grid, and choose between skills and melee attacks to your opponents. You can also attack environmental objects such as straw-like fencing to tear it down to give you access to enemies. Your main stats are armor, which tells you how much damage you can take, and Strength, telling how much damage you can deal. Combat is just as challenging as the previous two episodes, and depending on the difficulty you choose, your team may need to rest to recover, which is not needed in the easiest difficulty.
Some sections of the game can be a bit like an endless mode where you will need to defeat wave after wave of enemies in one go. There is an interesting gameplay mechanic that allows you to fight or flee before the next wave, and it’s an idea I liked very much when I was feeling overwhelmed, but you should know that if you complete more waves your rewards will be better, so do keep that in mind! You will earn great rewards that can enhance your characters, but the downside is you must look after your team if they are fatigued or injured, so you’ll need to see if the risk is worth the reward in case things go wrong.
Unlike most episodic games which, granted, are usually from the point and click adventure genre and often 2-3 hours long at most, this time around you’re looking at spending at least 8-10 hours with The Banner Saga 3 for doing a normal difficulty run. If you select a lower difficulty, your run will be quicker but, as you can imagine, the higher the difficulty, the harder the challenge!
My point of view will be a bit different than Tracey’s since this is my first time with The Banner Saga series. The combat system is similar to a majority of the strategy RPGs I’ve played before since these are turn-based. Each of the characters has a different attack range and mobility depending on their class and race. And there are a couple of other things to consider while in battle that might be a bit different from other games in the genre you might have played before, but worry not since the tutorial, which you can access before starting the game, does a great job of explaining it all.
Outside of battles as the story will progress your caravan will have to move from one location to another, and this is where the caravan management will kick in. You’ll have to carefully manage your rations to keep your clanspeople fed and your people’s morale up. Sometimes a small decision, like allowing travelers to join you, will negatively impact your troop’s morale, so you’ll need to consider each dialog choice you take. From the story dialogue to the fights, one of the strongest points for me were the graphics. The art style makes it feel as if you are watching an animated series, with vibrant colors and lots of details on the battlefield.
I’ve had some mixed feelings from my time with the game. On the positive side, the game is awesome. The way the story kicks off right at the start and the way it is presented between battles is really captivating and always makes you want to move forward. The battles are fun and challenging, even on the easiest of the three available difficulties. But that also means that the Platinum trophy for this game will be quite a difficult one, as you have to complete the game on hard without losing a single battle. There are also a couple of decisions-based trophies, so you’ll likely have to play the game more than once to get all trophies in the list.
On the other hand, apart from the battle tutorial and the short story recap you can watch, I felt as if I was pretty much left on my own, as if it was mandatory that I should have played the previous games. The caravan management, the hero selection screen, its upgrade system and even the map felt a bit overwhelming as there wasn’t any basic tutorial section about them. You have to figure things out by yourself, so I think the tutorial for the game could have been expanded a bit more so that those who, like me, jump on the third part of the series know more about what you can and can’t do. That being said, this doesn’t stop me from recommending the game. It is pure strategy fun, with a brilliant story and a magnificent art style. But if you haven’t played the previous games like me , I highly suggest to get them before taking on this one, as it will make for an even better experience.
The final installment of The Banner Saga trilogy is just as thrilling, fun, and story-driven as the previous two episodes. The decision making is certainly a core part of the game, as it greatly affects the outcome and the fates of the characters in this adventure. Stoic Games has created a superb trilogy, and we look forward to see what they come up with next now that they have wrapped this one up. The game’s story is great, and will keep ou coming back for more from start to finish!
This Banner Saga 3 review is based on PlayStation 4 copies provided by Stoic Studios.