‘The Banner Saga Complete Pack’ Review: Tactical Vikings

out of 5

The Banner Saga Complete Pack is a collection of the previously released games, The Banner Saga (2014), The Banner Saga 2 (2016) and the add on Survival Mode. Although inspired by Norse mythology, The Banner Saga creates its own unique world using Scandinavian lore and other fantasy elements. Gameplay is mainly tactical, turn-based battles, played on a square grid field. Between these battles, a deep and very well written story unfolds and players are given many conversational choices that will affect the outcome and path ahead.

The Banner Saga is beautifully done in classic cell animation graphics. From the combat, to character interactions, and of course, cut scenes, are all reminiscent of the Don Bluth animated games in the ‘80s, but much darker and dramatic. If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, cartoons, vikings, and turn-based strategy games, The Banner Saga Complete Pack will fill a much needed void in your life.

Combat for both titles is the same; each combatant unit has two meters representing strength and a shield which protects your strength. Strength is not only your unit’s health, but also their attack power. As a unit takes more damage to their strength, their attack also decreases. As your units move around, they can be instructed to attack enemies in range depending on their class, such as archer, shieldbanger, or two handed berserker, for example. These attacks can then be increased with another resource: willpower. Willpower is also used to increase movement and some special skills. As with all turn-based strategy games, planning ahead and properly utilizing units is key to winning battles.

As the story progresses between battles and conversations, your army also uses a supply resource. This is all done with a rather drawn out sequence as you move between areas, kind of like Oregon Trail but with less dysentery. This was one of my few complaints about both Banner Saga games, they can be a little long winded and drag out some scenes like this. Most folks who are into these kind of games generally have a good amount of patience though. The battles and story are the stars of The Banner Saga Complete Pack.

The Banner Saga has incredible hand drawn graphics and the voice acting and music put many major studio games to shame. The battle system isn’t perfect and can be overwhelming for new players to the genre. The story is so well done, though; it’s up there with some of the better fantasy novels. In fact the series was so well liked that it has spawned a tabletop RPG and its own novels. The story is what will keep players invested for hours. At about 15 hours to complete each title, and then considering replay value if players want to try different choices and see the various outcomes, The Banner Saga Complete Pack is a great buy.

The Banner Saga Complete Pack is two great games and a challenging DLC. With The Banner Saga 3 recently meeting its Kickstarter goals and set to complete the trilogy, it’s a great way to catch up. Considering what small developer Stoic is, I am hugely impressed with these great games they have created. Many of the big developers dream of being able to create such an immersive and rich world for their games. I look forward the next installment and will likely play The Banner Saga Complete Pack again once it gets closer to release.

The Banner Saga Complete Pack is available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. This review is based on an Xbox One copy provided for that purpose. 

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