Live through an epic role-playing Viking saga where your strategic choices directly affect your personal journey. Make allies as you travel with your caravan across this stunning yet harsh landscape. Carefully choose those who will help fight a new threat that jeopardizes an entire civilization.
User reviews: Very Positive (4,777 reviews)
Release Date: Jan 14, 2014

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Recommended By Curators

"A wonderfully realised Viking adventure with in-depth tactical combat. Roto-scope style animation leads to a beautiful world. Ends a bit abruptly though"
Read the full review here.

Recent updates View all (10)

April 17

Banner Saga Update - Linux+SteamOS and more!

Banner Saga Update - April 16th
We’re releasing a rather large update for The Banner Saga and it includes the Linux + SteamOS versions of the game. We know it took a while, but we had to do things the right way rather than rush anything out. We're also happy to be having a 50% off sale for the weekend to accompany this update!

We’re happy were the Linux + SteamOS turned out. We've tested primarily on SteamOS Beta and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. If you have any issues on your system, please contact us at help-linux@stoicstudio.com.

We are very pleased with the way the game feels when played with a gamepad. We tested with the primary 4 controllers: Xbox One, Xbox 360, Playstation DualShock 3, and Playstation DualShock 4. We also tested with a variety of generic gamepads. However, if you use an unrecognized controller, you still might be able to configure it when prompted by the game. If you do this successfully, please contact us at help-gamepad@stoicstudio.com so that we can incorporate your configuration into the game for everyone else.

The Steam Cloud saves will help ensure that your save games are more permanent and available for The Banner Saga 2. When you start the game for the first time, the game will automatically upload your old save games into the Steam Cloud.

Here are the Major Points and Release Notes for this build

Main Points
· Linux + SteamOS
· Big Picture
· Full Gamepad
· Steam Cloud Saves

Release Notes
· Ported the game to Linux and SteamOS
· Added Steam Big Picture support
· Added Gamepad support for Xbox and Playstation compatible controllers
· Graphical renderer completely rewritten and optimized using Starling and Stage3d for Windows and Mac OS X platforms. This puts more load on your GPU, instead of the CPU. You can still use the old renderer by adding the command line option "starling=false" without the quotes.
· Added zooming with mouse wheel
· Fix issue preventing achievements earned in offline play from uploading to Steam when Steam finally reconnects
· Fix issue with the silver arrow
· Fix issue causing Silver Arrow to be unusable in the Bellower Fight
· Hero Stat upgrade GUI improved with new 'add' and 'subtract' buttons
· Fix several grammar and spelling issues
· Fix issue where Egil is still available for fight after being betrayed
· Battle Horn no longer deducts stars if they cannot be used on the active hero
· Command line options format has changed. See the Developer Cheatsheet for more information.

20 comments Read more

Reviews

“Game of Thrones Meets Vikings Meets Disney. The Banner Saga is blindingly lovely and arguably just as intriguing to play. Built atop a world that all but demands the attention of travel documentaries, it's epic in the literal sense of the word.”
100% – US Gamer

“With a refreshingly unique aesthetic, well-written story, and challenging gameplay, The Banner Saga is an excellent adventure well worth your time.”
90% – Games Radar

“The Banner Saga deserves commendation for the strength of its art and music experience alone, which shatters conventions.”
86% – IGN

Coming to SteamOS/Linux

The Banner Saga will be available on SteamOS and Linux in March 2015.

Digital Deluxe Edition

The Deluxe Edition – Combines The Banner Saga with the official soundtrack which includes 29 tracks by Grammy nominated, and two time BAFTA Award winning, composer Austin Wintory, performed by the Dallas Winds orchestra plus a powerhouse trio of acclaimed YouTube sensations: vocalists Peter Hollens and Malukah and violinist Taylor Davis.

About This Game

Live through an epic role-playing Viking saga where your strategic choices directly affect your personal journey. Make allies as you travel with your caravan across this stunning yet harsh landscape. Carefully choose those who will help fight a new threat that jeopardizes an entire civilization. Every decision you make in travel, conversation and combat has a meaningful effect on the outcome as your story unfolds. Not everyone will survive, but they will be remembered.

Key Features

  • Player choice that drives your own narrative – every decision you make in travel, conversation and combat has a meaningful effect on the outcome as your story unfolds.
  • Over 25 playable characters from 2 different races, human and varl, the horned giants – embark on your epic journey with a variety of characters from 7 different classes, each with unique abilities and upgrade options to fit your play style.
  • Strategic combat with consequences - victory or defeat and even the permanent loss of a character depends on which characters you choose to take into battle and what decisions you make afterwards.
  • The journey is as important as battle – your role in building and managing your caravan as you travel the vast frozen landscape is critical to not only your own survival but the survival of an entire civilization.
  • An epic Viking saga brought to life in 2D glory – beautifully hand drawn combat sequences and animations, accompanied by an evocative score from Grammy-nominated composer Austin Wintory, will immerse you into a fantasy realm inspired by Norse mythology.
  • Multiplayer Combat Enhanced – sharpen your combat skills in the free multiplayer game “Factions”. Compete against other players with many of the character classes you see in The Banner Saga.

The Banner Saga is the first part of a planned trilogy. If you complete this game, your unique progress and storyline will carry over to the next part of the story.

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows XP SP3
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Hard Drive: 4 GB available space
    Recommended:
    • OS: Windows 7 SP1
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Hard Drive: 6 GB available space
    Minimum:
    • OS: MAC OSX 10.7.5
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Hard Drive: 4 GB available space
    Recommended:
    • OS: MAC OSX 10.7.5
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Hard Drive: 6 GB available space
    Minimum:
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Hard Drive: 4 GB available space
    Recommended:
    • Memory: 4 MB RAM
Helpful customer reviews
1,446 of 1,853 people (78%) found this review helpful
32.9 hrs on record
Posted: November 22, 2014
It really pains me to do this because there are so many reasons to like this game.

The problem is that The Banner Saga simply doesn't deliver what it promises.

At the very beginning we are informed that at our decisions affect the game: THEY DON'T. Despite the fact that they've created this vast and gorgeous world, steeped in lore and history, you can't even choose where to go. You're firmly 'on-the-rails' for the entire game. Occasionally, you get text based encounters where you get to make a decision, but having played Banner Saga a couple of times, I can tell you that most of these change nothing. Sometimes one character or another dies, but it's trivial since they aren't really necessary anyway.

At the very beginning we are treated to a beautiful animated cut-scene complete with voice acted dialogue, so you'd figure those would come up at key points in the game at least, right? THEY DON'T. Not even at the end.

As the story develops, more and more layers are revealed: The gods are dead; the sun has stopped in the sky; there's a prophecy; there's tension and intrigue between characters and races, etc, etc. NONE OF IT GOES ANYWHERE. In a nut shell, the story is: survive until you get to the end boss - who has practically nothing to do with anything.

The artwork is gorgeous, the concept (Viking Oregon Trail + Turn Based Strategy + Some RPG elements) is simple but it works. But instead of using that simplicity to really open up the world, we're instead treated to a vast tableaux of untapped potential.

Maybe they're planning a sequel - and heck, I've put this many hours in already, I might even pick it up - but honestly, if a game leaves you feeling, "What, that's it?" It failed to deliver.


EDIT: I DO NOT care that Banner Saga is part of a planned trilogy. I WILL NOT base a review of a game on the potential of its sequel. I think that would be a huge disservice to those choosing whether or not to spend money on THIS game.
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146 of 175 people (83%) found this review helpful
14.9 hrs on record
Posted: November 9, 2014
A nice game, really loved it.

+ Great athmosphere.
+ Beautiful.
+ Interesting fights.
+ Every choice has consequences... Often huge, life-and-death consequences.

But:

- You don't really care about most characters.
- There is a big gap in difficulty between all previous fights and the final boss. Needing an archer with a specific set up for that fight only makes that harder.
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275 of 406 people (68%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
20.8 hrs on record
Posted: November 7, 2014
This game causes mixed feelings. The concept had really great potential but it wasn't fulfilled. Some (+)s and (-)s

(+) Art. It seems to me that graphics and music were on the minds of developers from the very beginning and they focused solely on it. Great, fantastic art. Impeccable style. Totally enjoyed it.
(+) Caravan management and interactive stories. These determine the result of everything: what characters you'll get, which ones will survive and which will die, how much resourses you'll get etc. That's one of the best parts of the game.
(+) Strong authentic atmosphere.
(+) Excellent initial concept.

(-) Weak repetitive battles and gameplay in general. Too few different types of enemies. Few classes of characters. And there are hundreds of battles when you have to fight the same enemies with the same characters. Boring to death. It seems that developers devoted themselves to making graphics so much that they forgot about gameplay till the last night before the release and barely managed to finish it hurriedly. But often gameplay = fun.
(-) Story. It was intended really epic. I mean REALLY big and epic like in Game of Thrones or something. But they didn't have enough resourses, so in the end it finishes abruptly, it is relatively weak, it's not supported by great gameplay, it is disappoining. If they'd taken something of a less scale the game would have been much better I guess.

My overall imression is negative which is sadly, because this game could have been truly terrific.
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61 of 78 people (78%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
23.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 6, 2014
I certainly enjoyed this game. It has a unique feel even if everything is stolen from Norse mythology. The story was captivating, so much to the point that I yelled in fury when I happened to loose a member of my party. Combat is perhaps less than groundbreaking with originality but it was certainly solid and very rewarding when it came to leveling up characters.

I got a couple of the giants mixed up for a while, but aside from that, most characters have a unique backstory that fleshes out as things progress. It is certainly worth it to read into everybody's capabilities, for the most subtle traits they posses play out very importantly once you realixe their potential. Every battle should be played with the intent of keeping as many of your fighters intact, lest you be forced to send in your benchwarmers in for the next fight.

The artwork was impressive, captivating, and downright epic, however.......... the first cutscenes really got me stoaked for kickass cartoon "Heavy Metal-esq" laden story line. The artwork let my hopes fall gracefully rather than total disapointment.

Despite the fact that I have 1 and a half playthroughs under my belt I do not see an increible amount of playability, although it seems as though a few play throughs could be rewarding due to the amount of different options/results offered throughout the game.

Now, here's where I'm not totally sure how I feel about the game: Choices. Some choices totally blindside you with how determental/beneficail they can be. They game has a habit of throwing scores of petty situtions in your face just so that you'll be unaware of the severity of a certain choice and suffer because you did not treat it with appropiate reverment. I mentioned earlier that I have one and a half playthroughs; this is because I utter screwed myself in the first game so I went back to ammend my "mistakes". If you've ever layed D&D, this game has the feel of a ruthless yet rewarding DM that often sets you up to hang yourself with your own noose once you get things going.

All in all, I loved playing this game, yet I do not see myself playing it in the immediate future.
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60 of 79 people (76%) found this review helpful
15.3 hrs on record
Posted: December 2, 2014
Most games these days are designed to be won; The Banner Saga is meant to be survived. Anything more would be a mockery of the Viking apocalypse suffered by its characters. The atmosphere of Stoic Studios' first title is very evocative of desolation and despair. With the gods dead and the sun stalled in the sky, humans and giants work together to eke out a shattered existence. The arrival of an ancient enemy throws the tenuous balance into question and sends desperate warrior caravans across the hostile landscape. The displaced and hopeful follow in their wake, scraping together what lives they can. The leaders of these caravans are forced to make difficult decisions, by which their followers live and die. The point of view shifts several times throughout The Banner Saga, demonstrating the dire straits in which both humans and giants find themselves. However, in spite of the multiple views, so much about what's really happening remains unknown. Each caravan meets many people, most of whom have an angle for survival. Figuring out who can be trusted is one of the great challenges of the game, and also one of its greatest pleasures. Despite the pervasive apocalypse, not all is lost. Stoic has done admirably at focusing on the personal stories at the epic's core. The key characters' motivations are well-explained, and their mysteries reveal themselves at an appropriate pace. Everything looks and sounds amazing. Character designs are rich and colorful, and their animation is like something from out of a lost 80s classic. The visuals scale impressively, handling great crumbling monuments and fierce monsters as well as delicate human gestures.Combat has many quirks that may seem counter-intuitive to SRPG players. However, learning the ins and outs of the system can be an enjoyable puzzle. Battle takes place on a flat grid. Up to six plot-relevant allies, drawn from a frequently shifting pool, face off against a potentially frightening number of enemies. Battle proceeds in alternative rounds, with one member of the enemy force getting a turn for every allied turn. Many battles begin with a large-scale conflict, which pits the caravan's rank-and-file soldiers against enemy hordes. The formation options in this system don't feel as strongly tied as they could be to the skirmishes that follow. The sole currency for preparing for battle is renown. When all is lost, only a man's observed actions are important. Renown is used on stat-boosting treasure, character advancement, and purchasing supplies for the caravan. Playing The Banner Saga as a standard game of optimization and the greatest possible success may lead to disappointment. Trusting the crazy-eyed wanderer who smells of stale mead could be the best decision you make all week, or it could lead to a knife in your back.Some choices are mechanically better than others, causing the more damaging answers to become less interesting during multiple replays. Stoic Studios have set themselves up with a difficult act to follow. The Banner Saga is a rare game that forces its player to think and feel, often in delightful opposition. Its subsystems combine to support the narrative of desperate heroism, hard choices, and survival.
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27 of 29 people (93%) found this review helpful
11.1 hrs on record
Posted: December 3, 2014
The Banner Saga’s awe inspiring scope is both its biggest strength and weakness.

It paints a picture so lavish and compelling that its almost irritatingly compelling with each new thread it introduces, so rich that you want to spend time learning about every character and piece of lore but haven’t the time to do so. In a medium so oversaturated with derivative fantasy, the distinctiveness of the world Banner Saga creates pulled me in eagerly awaiting even the most trivial of pieces of exposition. It wrapped me up so tightly in its intrigue that even when its problems surfaced they could do little to take me out of the experience, the only real issue then being that said experience unfortunately only has enough time to tell part of its story.

The Banner Saga is quite simply the telling of the end of days. The Sun has stopped moving, the gods are dead, and the return of an enemy thought extent threaten to annihilate those few who still survive. It’s bleak and unrelenting in its showcasing of how dire a place the world has become, as you embark on a caravan fleeing to anywhere not already destroyed, many not living to see the journey’s end.

The tension of the narrative - the abundant despair and sacrifice every step of the way - rejects the overly cautious writing far too often substituted in for more disruptive outcomes, and makes the characters you travel with people you care and worry about. With how constant the possibility of death becomes, I was invested not only in each character’s narrative but also in fighting to keep them alive as best I could. The choices presented before you become agonizing decisions that often decides who lives and dies, leaving me paralyzed as I hoped I’d made the right call. It’s stressful, but crucial to the story Banner Saga wants to tell and the emotion it intends to make you feel, and it succeeds at this almost perfectly.

The lack of voice acting or animated cutscenes for most of the game definitely at times hinders the impact of events, but by the time these begin to arrive I was already so caught up in who my characters were that dialogue alone was enough to humanize them. The bigger “problem” is that Banner Saga’s narrative and world are on a scale far larger than a single game can contain, and as a result many of the story’s plotlines both overt and secondary are left dangling, with a statement that they will be expanded upon with the next two games in a planned trilogy, but for the time being left me frustrated that I was so quickly cut off. Of course I say this only because of how enthralling the narrative is already, but it was a tad disappointing to see so much setup but only partially executed, leaving me with more questions than answers and praying this adventure gets finished.

With how seamlessly the experience flows together, it might be easy to forget that under all the plot and jaw-dropping artwork exists a polished and inspired turn-based strategy game. The Banner Saga works as a game of small, important numbers and mechanical simplification so as to make every fight immediately understandable. There are very few numbers to be concerned about, and every one that is here matters and is imperative to make the absolute most of if you want your party to survive. Fights are designed not as giant encounters or grand boss fights, but small battles that often come down to the last fighter standing. This raw, streamlined approach was refreshing, not only in that it cut down on the number of throwaway encounters but also made me far more conscious of every tool at my disposal.

Party creation and leveling were more meaningful to me as each character played a distinct role in combat, and raising their skills was a rare and extremely important event. The low numbers tied to everything kept things from ever becoming overwhelming, and made positioning of fighters just as if not more important than the blunt force they could inflict. With each battle intimately tied to the narrative, I also became conscious of who it was I was sending into battle, a decision that could potentially result in them never coming back.

The areas where combat breaks slightly are mostly related to a handful of oversights as to what information you’re given. Though you might have been given hints via a preceding narrative bit, you’re never allowed to see who or what you’re fighting before the fight has already begun. This makes selecting the right fighters almost a game of luck or forcing you to develop a standardized strategy and only focus on characters that work within it (which of course is compromised if one of those characters dies or is injured). It prohibits experimentation and seems kind of silly, as surely you could see the battle you were going into before you walked into it. This extends even into letting you see character stats, level up, or change items on the party select screen, which can have a huge effect on your outcome if you haven’t recently looked at and adjusted these earlier.

What’s surprising though, is that The Banner Saga’s flaws for as irritating as they often are feel less like problems and more potential. There’s so much here that’s inspired, engaging, and full of promise that anything that doesn’t work perfectly doesn’t bring the game down but show areas where it could be made even more amazing. This doesn’t make it a flawless game, but it does make it one that’s worth playing despite any mistakes it makes. Developer Stoic’s ambition is intoxicating and left me not unsatisfied by what The Banner Saga isn’t, but excited to see just how much more it becomes.

You can read more of my writing on Kritiqal.
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26 of 31 people (84%) found this review helpful
9.6 hrs on record
Posted: October 28, 2014
While the combat felt a bit repetitive toward the end of the game, I did greatly enjoy the story and the characters in this game. The Oregon Trail-esque choices that truly could mean instant death for your favorite characters is present, and makes each choice truly feel important. This is like the recent The Walking Dead game, except when you go back to play/read what the other outcome would have been, you realize your choice actually did matter.

I'm not sure I would play through it again, but I absolutely recommend playing this game to completion at least once if you are a fan of RPGs, turn-based combat games, and/or isometric older games like Baldur's Gate or Fallout 1 or 2, mixed with some Oregon Trail.
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21 of 23 people (91%) found this review helpful
17.1 hrs on record
Posted: December 29, 2014
Wow, did I really already spend 15 hours in The Banner Saga?
Yes I did and as this game has currently been on various holiday sales it's time for a little subjective review without getting too much into game and details:
If you want to know about TBS's game mechanics you best checkout some gameplay video. I'll rather praise what in my opinion makes this game a good one worthwhile both your money and time.
- Art & style: Beautifully crafted (rather drawn) environments and characters and map; it may not be everyone's taste but the devs put much dedication into creating a world you care about.
- Music: The soundtrack alone is a masterpiece - the classical compositions fit seamlessly into the game's medieval fantasy theme. It really helps the immersion, for example if your caravan moves across the lands.
- Writing: It's based on Nordic mythology but neither does it copy known works nor does it feel clichéd. Each character and each location has its own history and meaning. You can read all about it if you care but you don't have to. The story unfolds in a great way and at good pace. I really care for the protagonists which isn't an easy task/achievement for this type of game - I never skipped through any dialogue as I always wanted to get to know as much as possible.
The whole story feels like it's part of something bigger, some universe that makes sense - one might even compare it to Sagas like Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones etc.
- Gameplay: To keep it short, this is solid turn-based strategy (some might miss complexity) along with text-based RPG where your decisions affect combat and experience. It offers enough opportunities to upgrade your characters and to make the impression that your choices matter without getting overwhelming at any time.

These points above are the core of why I recommend this game to others to whom those impressions appeal.
PS: As this is a saga the devs currently work on a sequel - TBS 2 (first trailer already out)...
I hope this was of any help for your,

Yours,
Bethlemos
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29 of 37 people (78%) found this review helpful
10.9 hrs on record
Posted: November 5, 2014
I found myself connecting with the characters throughout the story. I just finished the first game in the trilogy and I am left wanting the next game now. I must know what happens. A good buy if you enjoy story book style gameplay with lots of feels.
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28 of 36 people (78%) found this review helpful
18.7 hrs on record
Posted: November 9, 2014
I did like this game, it is basically like Oregon Trail but instead of hunting mini-game there is a Tactics Turn Based Strategy mini-game. The characters are interesting, the plot is easy to follow and enjoyable. The music is unique, not my favorite personally but if you like old school chanting, this is definitely up your alley.

All that comes with some caveats though. Firstly the game ran potato quality on my computer, which is a little embarrassing, my computer is getting fairly old but the graphics were also at 64bit levels so I have no idea why the framerate was so bad. Secondly, this game will kick your ♥♥♥ a little bit because the difficulty does ramp up after about 10 hours but also because it feels like a long slog to try and get through. This problem is magnified by the end which is even more depressing. Thirdly, the combat because pretty stagnant pretty quickly without much difference in units and with you using the same strategies over and over. I'm still not sold on the armor/strength system but is was at least unique as far as I know and did make you think a little differently than most other Turn Based Strategy games. I won't lie to you though, I hated the turn order system they used which made me use strategies that would be stupid in any other TBS game.

That got pretty negative pretty quickly so let me re-iterate, this is a good game, but it could have greatly improved from just a bit more polish.
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21 of 24 people (88%) found this review helpful
9.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 4, 2014
I can honestly say that I enjoyed this game very much. Few turn based games have ever caught my attention but The Banner Saga managed to do so. The artwork and soundtrack are wonderful and the setting for the game is amazing and original.
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43 of 63 people (68%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
8.5 hrs on record
Posted: December 23, 2014
According to Steam I tried for 8.5 hours to like this game. I failed, even though the story looks interesting enough and the visuals are beautiful.
I have read from others how they dislike that choices give little hint to as what the outcome could be. Even worse is how the story swaps between protagonists and thus those outcomes are arbitrarily moved into the future.
Still, I'd try to play it if it wasn't for the gameplay. The combat must be the worst turn based combat I have experienced. Units can move past enemies, in and out of melee without any fear of turning their backs on enemies. While attacks of opportunity have become a staple for many games, they are non-existent in the Banner Saga. Coupled with how units can burn Willpower for extra moves and then burn Willpower to boost their attack, means that even if you try to tie up an enemy in melee, they can still stroll past your fighters and get to your back row. After all, archery range is within charge distance. And since movement is always the same, there is no chance to get out of melee range once an opponent has gotten close.
Even worse is the initiative system. Both sides take turns moving units, meaning that the side with less units gets to move those more often. If those are more powerfull, having twice the stats of the player's units, then those powerfull enemies hit multiple times before you have the time to even try to save your hero.
Yes, you can learn to beat these fights. But it seems less like adapting tactics than learning to play a broken system.

I had heard combat was bad, but I had not expected it to be this bad. At least I bought it very cheap on the Humble Store for a good cause.
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23 of 28 people (82%) found this review helpful
6.7 hrs on record
Posted: October 29, 2014
Are you a happy individual that always sees the best in people? Play this game and prepare to have your soul shattered.

Fantastic narative with familiar combat mechanics that calls back to the old school RPG's of the late '90's. Great characters with strong development as the story progresses. This will often tug at the old heart strings as your choices will have an impact on the characters.
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20 of 25 people (80%) found this review helpful
6.9 hrs on record
Posted: November 24, 2014
One of the better Kickstarter games out there. I liked the setting. I liked the turn-based combat. I liked the minimalistic voice/animations. I liked the art style and 'deep' world. Everything seemed positive but I didn't feel like it was a completely positive experience.

I appreciate that the devs wanted us to view this world through different group's struggles, but I initially didn't even know whom to identify with and care about. We are thrown into the deep end and expected to make the right decisions (I say right because you can lose some of your main characters in the game, which in my opinion removes interesting stories/interactions down the line).

Worth buying on sale, but be warned that it's quite short (~7hrs).

Pros[/b]
- Your choices do affect the outcome! (#shotsfired #telltale)
- Great art style (especially visible during the numerous 'walking' segments). You get a real sense of the minuscule size your units occupy in this unforgiving world.
- Turn-based combat (though innovative, it isn't as deep as I was hoping. I ended up doing the same thing in every fight for most of the game).
- It may take time, but you do start to care for the main characters (Rook!)

Cons[/b]
- Story on Iver, the Bellower, the serpent and the Council is seriously lacking.
- Everything loads slowly (Map, Camp, Towns, Interactions).
- Map is an illusion (extremely detailed map, but most of it is pointless).
- No side-quests.
- Resource management actually doesn't matter much (I had my caravan starve many times due to random events, but still won every fight easily).
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13 of 13 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
19.5 hrs on record
Posted: March 5
This was a beautifuly rendered tactical turn based RNG RPG with an engaging story and for the most part, stellar gameplay. The backdrop was visually stunning, and this was easily the games strongest feature. It really did a great job of not only creating a game setting, but also adding an air of mystery and intrigue and foreboding to the game.

The combat itself was fairly simplistic as far as hex based battle systems go. The RNG aspect can create some frustrating moments, but can also conversely make you so stoked that you took a low percentage chance and succeeded.
The RPG upgrading system likewise was fairly simple.

As far as the writing goes, the story itself well complemented the artisitc design of the game, or vice versa, lol, and the characters were pretty interesting in my opinion, overall. They werent fully fleshed out, but I didnt feel they needed to be, and for what the game was presenting, I thought the whole thing worked quite well.

So, based on all that, with the excellent story writing, the cool characters, the amazing set piece, and the decent combat, this game should really be one of the best. However, it had some very real issues that knock it down some.

For one, as good as the writing was, realistically, none of your choices leading up to the finale really mattered, EXCEPT who you leveled up. Speaking of which, party members only level up through use, which I feel, based on the type of game it is, is something of a failure. I feel party members should level together in games like this, or at least, the unused ones should get some sort of experience. Otherwise, you end up woefully umprepared later when you are FORCED to use certain characters, arguably the ones that held the least appeal through the rest of the sotry as far as using them in battle went.

So, like I say, your choices didnt really matter. You have to fight starvation and loss through battle based on your actions, which for the bulk of your group (the common soldiers, scouts, and peasants), basically affected the amount of survivors left when you get to the final city WHERE they all die anyway, lol. However, your party decisions defintiely matter, and because you are forced to use certain characters later in the game, and one specifically for the final battle sequence (the daughter), you would be encouraged to use them EXCEPT, the game really doesnt hint at that. They are mostly the characters you will find least useful overall, and that coupled with a distinct lack of anything suggesting they might be important later, virtually guarantees that most players will face the same complications later in the game.

So, this matters because the final battle is two stages and relies solely on the daughters archery skills to win. However, there was no real reason to level her up through the game, and I know that most players enter that final battle with an underleveled primary use character, which generally spells defeat.

Now, it is my understanding that the developers listened to these same complaints from a large percentage of the people who played this just after release and made some adjustments, but I havent played it since those patches were released, so I cant speak to whether they really helped out with these issues or not. My understanding was the patch release focused on the final battle, so that aspect might be better now.

Anyway, I think overall, I want to give this game an 8 out of 10, but all the issues with it make me drop my rating down to about a 6.5 out of 10.

I do intend to revisit this game and see how the patches impacted things, so I will revise this review if necessary after I do so. Regardless, it is a game worth experiencing, so I do in fact recommend it.
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16 of 20 people (80%) found this review helpful
36.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 8, 2014
This is hands down one of the best games I've ever played. Rich immersive art and music that resonates with Nordic bones. Epic story telling that thrusts you into situations with which you can't tell what is the most advantageous choice even a few times through. The battles feel dire from your first encounter. Every time an ally is downed it feels fatal and every victory is glorious. You must master stratagem, positioning and party composition in order to survive this journey.
I hope a sequel is coming with a Vs mode and more diverse enemies.
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11 of 12 people (92%) found this review helpful
7.5 hrs on record
Posted: December 26, 2014
I had a very hard time deciding if I should give this game a thumbs up, or thumbs down. TL;DR: This game is too short, the story left wholly unfinished, and your choices matter much less than the game leads you to believe. Purchase only on a good sale.

At first blush, this game is evocative and intriguing; the artwork is beautiful and the characters well-wrought. It's sort of an Oregon Trail meets turn-based RPG, and the story appears vast and your choices deeply important.

Unfortunately this game fails to deliver in three key areas: choice, story, and length.

At the beginning you feel like your choices matter. Make a wrong decision and you run out of food, or an important character dies. Later, you realize that you're pretty firmly on the rails; you might save people here or there, but in the end, it doesn't really matter much who lives and who dies. I was deeply disappointed to discover this, as the game felt like it offered really gritty options in the beginning.

The story and length problems go hand-in-hand--this feels like a book you slam shut in the middle and never pick up again. There are so many loose threads that doesn't have answers, so many stories left untold. The ending felt so abrupt that I had to do some internet searches to see if I'd somehow screwed up and ruined my game, or if the credits just happened to roll in the middle. It didn't end, it just dropped off into oblivion. I got roughly six hours of gameplay out of this, so the $10 sale price tag wasn't too bad. If there's a sequel released, I'll pick it up for roughly the same price...but for now I feel cheated. Not in price, but in story. There's so much left unfinished that I feel unsettled, and the realization that my choices matter not is rather disappointing as well.
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19 of 28 people (68%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
27.6 hrs on record
Posted: December 20, 2014
I had heard very good things about this game so I had high expectations.

The art is indeed gorgeous, it is reminiscent of old animation movies from 70s and 80s, but with a modern twist.

Unfortunately I wish there was more positive things to say about the game. Well, the world and the background story are pretty good, plus the game doesnt feel too short nor too long... I actually was positively surprised by it, I thought the story would draw to an end earlier.

Here's a collection of random thoughts I have about the game:

1) you spend almost half of your time staring at a long string of tiny characters plodding at unnatural speed through snowy landscapes.
2) the map is not integrated at all in the game. You dont have any saying in which direction your caravan is going, everything is decided. You can access the map only when you camp or stop the caravan, and at that point I've already forgotten where I am supposed to go... why isnt the map shown when the route to be taken is presented to the player? there's a huge map full of Norse-sounding names, and you can click on most of them to get additional info... but why would you? I got bored after a while, like with the planets' descriptions in Mass Effect. You dont just dump a huge map to the players to satisfy their thirst of knowledge, you introduce the world little by little with bits and pieces that are relevant to the story. In TBS only a handful of locations on the map matter for the story and they are all non-descriptive... one town or the other, they feel all the same (except the Varl capital).
3) I heard some people saying "The dialogues are really good"... well I dont know what kind of games these people have been playing but the dialogues in TBS range from average to bad, with a couple bordering to nonsensical (e.g. the one of the mead house stands out for making little to no sense). I grew more and more irritated.
4) Another little irritating thing: the lines in dialogues only proceed forward. If you press accidentally the mouse key (in my case the trackpad) you will skip to the next line without possibility to go back. it happened to me a bunch of times, I play with the finger resting on the Macbook's trackpad and a little twitch sends the dialogue forward
5) the story feels really average, many questions are left completely unanswered... I can only guess they might be doing a sequel to expand on the story. I'm not gonna mention anything to avoid spoilers but seriously there's stuff that happens that you feel it's major and could definitely steer the story some way or the other, but instead nothing happens and the event/story element is not mentioned anymore afterwards.
6) the fighting system is super clunky, doesnt feel fluid at all. You are often pitted against more numerous / stronger enemies and your characters never seem to level up fast enough for the fight to feel equal. Moreover they are equipped with abilities which are often difficult to use (this ability? Only works with enemies which are positioned EXACTLY diagonally in respect to the original target. Oh you think it's hard to use? How about we make it so that it can inflict damage also to your allies?), or semi-useless (each time my Raidmaster used Stone Wall he's never been targeted afterwards; Rain of Arrows, Mend, and others are so nerfed they suck). In the end it pretty much resolved in "I start chipping down the armor first, then I go for the health" with basic attacks, hoping the bad guys would go down before mine. Sometimes it worked sometimes it didnt. Lost maybe 1/3 of the battles, without chance to replay them.
7) the big-scale clashes are just ridiculous... you can chose one of the strategies like "Hold them" or "charge" or "tighten your ranks", and how the battle will resolve feels totally random. If it is not, than there is no way to understand the logic behind it.
8) I felt no attachment whatsoever for the characters nor the caravan members (i.e. people who depended on me for protection and leadership). Especially the caravan members, they are just a stat, when they starve you see the numbers going down and the morale plunging and you're like "yeah so what? the game continues anyway.". This is a major drawback, you dont feel you have anything to lose, you can lose all the battles and starve out almost everyone in the caravan, you will still go on. At a certain point I started playing like a di*k, thinking "well let's see how much I can f-up before I get a game over screen"... it never came. Ok for the story-driven playability, but this is still a game. If the game plays itself what's the point?
9) you are forced to make totally random choices. E.g. how many ratios to buy before setting on a leg of the journey... you have no idea how many days it will last... how about informing the player?? Renown is always scarce, because it is mainly used to evolve characters, so it would be good to have some planning before spending some hard-gained renown.
10) The banner itself plays NO role at all in the story, it is mentioned in one line of dialogue and that's it. For the whole game. So much for a whole "saga"....
11) Hardly any tutorial in the game, just a basic one about combat. How about explaining how the different abilities work? I had to quit the game and resume from last checkpoint when I realised my assumptions about a certain ability were off and I lost the little tactical advantage I had because I screwed up
12) I dunno what was the reason, not enough money to put in the artistic production or time constraints, but I got so pissed off when I realised (and i realised it pretty soon in the game) that there is only one image for each character. All the dialogues, during the whole story, the same expression. Zero emotion response. Oddleif is stuck with the same scornful expression for the whole game, Eyvind with a sorry-♥♥♥♥♥ smile, and Ubin goes around holding his quill even in the middle of a battle.
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8 of 9 people (89%) found this review helpful
24.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 9, 2014
THough the game is more of adventure type then RPG or strategy and it got some questionable balance decisions it remains one of the best games in terms of immersion and story. Narrative is thoroughly weaved at the beginning but, unfortunately, later it becomes more and more schematic, the pace of story got faster, often skipping or even cutting previosuly declared minor storylines. Nevertheless, it was a nice experience for me and unlike most of modern games it was able to hold my interest untill the final titres.
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7 of 8 people (88%) found this review helpful
10.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 8, 2014
Not a turn based player. At all. So I will have to throw out there that I can't provide the most detailed review on the turn-based combat because I can't speak to what would be good or bad in comparison to other turn based strategy games. That being said, I enjoyed the game immensely without really enjoying the genre.

The art style was what got me interested but it was the story that got me hooked. I really enjoyed the gameplay and the importance of the decision making throughout the game. It's not too challenging and at the easier difficulty levels, the game is pretty breezy to play through (almost too easy) if you just want to enjoy the art and music and just learn more about the characters and world.

Whether you're a turn-based strategy player or not, you will find a lot to enjoy about the game and I'd certainly recommend it.
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