While we await the imminent release of Banner Saga 3, game developer Stoic have released The Banner Saga Complete Pack! Banner Saga 1 and Banner Saga 2 along with the new Survival Mode for BS2 are included all together for one great price.
While both games have already been released for console and PC this is a great way to jump into the series for newcomers. For the ones that already own Banner Saga 2, don’t worry, Survival Mode can be purchased separately!
A quick recap for new comers to the series…
The Banner Saga is a fantastic role-playing adventure inspired by Nordic cultures and legends. The beautiful hand-painted landscapes portray a world mysteriously suspended in a constant twilight. Gods have somehow died off and towns and cities have begun to crumble. Heroes abandon their hearths to traverse the countryside, gaining comrades along their journey to help battle this new supernatural threat.
In both games your decisions have heavy consequences. Intricately crafted dialogue scenarios give chances to gain or lose new allies. Tactical challenges await in every encounter through a turn based strategy system. Though the camera could benefit from a free floating option versus the fixed positions we are given during battle.
I can’t convey enough how beautiful these games truly are. The hand-painted art style evokes a strong sense of nostalgia for anyone who grew up in the “golden age” of animation and hearkens back to a time before CGI took over films and games. The art is very similar to that of movies like Disney’s Sleeping Beauty or Snow White. Every battle, journey and encounter is one masterfully crafted painting after another. Wonderful art, story and strategy are bountiful for anyone wanting to experience, or re-experience, a classic adventure/ tactics based game.
Survival Mode is the welcome new edition to this great deal. Select six of your favourite heroes and lead them into battle against waves of enemies. 40 escalating encounters will test your strategic skills and push you to make those tough decisions, because once a hero is gone, they’re gone for good. Don’t worry though, each battle earns you experience, or in this case “renown”, which allows you to recruit new heroes onto your team. The gameplay is pretty much the same but with one caveat, you now only have 30 seconds to decide every move!
Now, you might be thinking that this doesn’t really add up with the basic nature of the Banner Saga series, but it is there for a reason. To even the playing field. Since scoring high and matching your scores with other players on the leader-boards is an important part of Survival Mode, having a time limit makes sense. By removing the time limit you create a rift between players and their ever changing play styles. Having said that, I can see players that enjoy the relaxed, ‘take your time’ play-style of the base games not really enjoying Survival Mode. Separate leader-boards probably could have dissolved this issue, one for time limits and one without. Alternatively, players are given a choice between either normal or hard mode.
Survival Mode is currently available for existing Banner Saga 2 owners as a DLC purchase, even though Steam owners get it for free (that’s some bullshit). However, if you enjoy turn-based strategy them the Complete Pack is the best value for any fan or newcomer to the series.