In the world of role-playing games (RPGs), achieving perfection is rare and fleeting. However, once in a while, a game emerges that defies the passage of time. Today, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of The Banner Saga Trilogy, a crowdfunded RPG series developed by Stoic Studio, which has proven to be a shining example of excellence in the genre.
A decade of excellence
A decade ago, on January 14, 2014, The Banner Saga was born through a successful Kickstarter campaign. With over 20,000 backers contributing a staggering $723,000, it far exceeded its initial goal of $100,000. The game’s allure lies in its captivating visuals, reminiscent of Disney legend Eyvind Earle, a Norse-inspired setting, and gameplay that masterfully blends elements of XCOM, Dragon Age, and Oregon Trail.
The Banner Saga’s story
The Banner Saga unfolds in a world on the brink of extinction, where a mythical serpent capable of devouring mountains marks the end of days. Players step into the roles of Rook, the hunter, and his daughter Alette, reluctantly leading survivors in search of sanctuary. Their hope lies with the Varl, ancient giants who have brokered an uneasy peace with humans. However, as the story unfolds, it becomes evident that no one is truly safe.
Character development and narrative brilliance
From the outset, The Banner Saga excels in character development and narrative branching. Players amass a diverse roster of characters, each with a unique story and abilities that impact battles. Amid the chaos, the awakening of the enigmatic Dredge, a race of relentless automatons, adds to the tension. The game’s tactical, turn-based combat system features strength and armor stats, requiring strategic choices in battles.
Sequels and critical acclaim
The trilogy includes two sequels: The Banner Saga 2 (2016) and The Banner Saga 3 (2018). While the series received an average Metacritic score of 81, these numbers fail to encapsulate the trilogy’s immersive execution. As players progress, the games immerse them in a world where every character’s motive, every battle, and every decision carry immense weight.
A world of immersion
What sets The Banner Saga Trilogy apart is its totality. The game seamlessly weaves aesthetics, music, narrative, and gameplay to convey themes of resilience, sorrow, and hope. It creates a world where players become deeply invested in the story’s unfolding, forging emotional connections with the characters.
Resource management and tough choices
Beyond battles with the Dredge, players grapple with dwindling food supplies and morale. Shelter and supplies become scarce, leading to heart-wrenching decisions. The Banner Saga acknowledges that wartime refugees face battles not only on the battlefield but also in determining who receives limited resources.
Choices with consequences
The Banner Saga trilogy introduces a captivating element—the impact of choices. While there is no permadeath in combat, decisions made throughout the game shape the story’s outcome. A wrong choice may seal the fate of a beloved character, adding depth to the game’s replayability.
A decade of relevance
Ten years later, The Banner Saga Trilogy remains as captivating as ever. Playing all three games in succession allows players to witness the development of characters and their enduring struggles. The combination of its narrative, gameplay, and artistry keeps players engaged, even a decade after its initial release.
In a world where perfection is often fleeting, The Banner Saga Trilogy has proven to be a timeless gem in the RPG genre. While other games may offer more dynamic content or fun experiences, it’s hard to argue against the trilogy’s near-perfection in what it aims to achieve. It’s more than just a story; it’s a saga that continues to demand the attention of gamers worldwide, even after ten years.
As we celebrate a decade of The Banner Saga Trilogy, it stands as a testament to the enduring power of storytelling in gaming, a journey that has left an indelible mark on the hearts of players and solidified its place in the pantheon of RPG excellence.