The Banner Saga is one of the first Kickstarter games that I’ve supported back in early 2012 (right after Broken Age). It is also the first Kickstarter game that I have played completely, from start to finish. I still have not touched Broken Age or Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded.
It is very important to remember that the main, core members of Stoic Studio, consists of only three people. The game is not perfect, it has its flaws yes; but given the funds that the developers had, their manpower, and the amount of time spent on game development (about two years or so), I’d say that they did a pretty good job.
For the subsequent episodes, I would like to see more “delayed choices”, similar to Onef’s betrayal in chapter 6. Many of the “short-term” caravan choices would always have an optimum, no-brainer decision that would give the best rewards (i.e. Renown, Supplies, or Morale), which kind of defeats the purpose.
The decision to allow Onef into your party however, is a critical one that has important consequences both ways. Recruit Onef’s help and he leads you to a huge stash of 120 supplies (!!), which is just enough for you to cross the wastes from Frostvellr without losing any caravan members to hunger (I was playing on Hard and trying to get the Morale achievement as well — therefore I needed plenty of supplies for resting). The trade-off is that he betrays your party later in chapter 6, killing Egil (if he is still alive), who is arguably the best tank in the game, even stronger than any of the varl Shieldbangers. If you do not recruit Onef, Egil lives, but you leave Frostvellr with much fewer supplies, and there is a very high chance you will run out of food before reaching the end of the chapter.
This is how moral dilemmas should be designed: all decisions must have their merits, but each of them also comes with potentially devastating caveats.
The turn-based combat, in its current state, is perfectly fine. For an XCOM nerd like me who completed Enemy Within on Classic/Ironman, I greatly enjoyed The Banner Saga’s combat. Hard mode is very playable, but you have to be extremely patient and learn how to draw aggro with your tanks while blocking the enemy’s movement with near-dead enemies. Fasolt (Taunt), Mogr (crazy thorns damage to enemy armour), and Egil (broken Stonewall skill) are the best tanks for doing this. Iver can also function as a secondary tank but I found his active skill, the knockback attack, to be practically useless for my style of play.
To end this post, I’ll just post this screenshot of the ending credits (right click and select View Image for a larger view):
It’s a weird, funny feeling to see your name appear in the credits of a videogame. Notice the “Edward Dang” immediately above my name. Dang, brother! Thank you, all my fellow Edwards, for supporting this game.