Banner Saga 2, The Review
Welcome to our CHEATfactor Game Review of The Banner Saga 2. We review the game and then factor in how the available cheats affect the overall game experience. For better or worse, our reviews will help you decide whether or not to use cheats when playing the game.
I really just finished playing the original Banner Saga about a month ago. Oh, I've finished it multiple times but the branching plots and wonderful world crafted by developer Stoic Games has kept luring me back since the original was released and made it one of my go to games. The Banner Saga 2 then is a lot like finishing one of the best steaks you've ever had and then noticing that there's a second, slightly better steak right behind it. If you liked the original game, you'll love The Banner Saga 2 as much of it's core systems are still in place but they've been tweaked enough to add enough variety to make you excited to playa again. It is a bit guilty of looking too forward into the future and clearly setting up the events of the planned final installment but don't let that stop you, The Banner Saga 2 is every bit as engaging as it's award winning predecessor.
The Banner Saga 2 begins mere moments after the closing events of the first game, following the murder of Rook or his daughter Allete depending on how you start your game. Similar to the Mass Effect or Dragon Age games, The Banner Saga 2 is all about your choices and perms-death will haunt you if you choose to import a save file from the original game to continue your story. It may be a bit intimidating for newer players to jump in seemingly in the middle of such an involved story but the game does a great job of summing up the plot so far before asking them to choose a character to start as. In a neat twist The Banner Saga 2 has you play as the game's villains for a lengthy sections which makes the game feel remarkably different than it's predecessor since I could pillage, plunder and wreck havoc in a way that would leave the main cast in horror.
If I had one complaint about the way that The Banner Saga 2 continues the story it'd be that it's seemingly too concerned with setting up events of the planned third and final installment of the trilogy. There aren't many real threads left hanging when the credits roll but it's often clear that the developers at Stoic are setting up an epic final installment and as a result, The Banner Saga 2 feels like it's going through a definite case of sequelitis. It helps that the story is told in the same remarkable animation style of the first and somehow looks even more crisp this go-round but there's no question that the developers used the sequel as a means to setup the epic final battle.
Similarly, The banner Saga 2 plays a lot like the original game. The game is built into three separate sections, travel, dialogue and combat. While the first two feel sort of like a dark and twisted Oregon Trail, the game's heart is still in it's turn based, strategic combat. In theory the combat is simple, you stand on one side of the battle grid and duke it out with the guys on the other side. The strategy comes with, as you'd expect knowing when to move and when to strike. Careless movement can put your characters in dangerous situations that could cause your characters to die and if that happens, it's permanent and can have lasting effects on your surviving characters. This is what makes The Banner Saga 2 and it's predecessor so worth your time and so worth your investment.
Stoic did add some interesting features to the battle system for the sequel though, including new unit types to fight as and against. The clear standout of these new additions is the "horseborn" that are...pretty much minotaurs. They're a distinct change to how you'll have to strategize your attack since they move quickly and cover a lot of ground and then retreat back. It took me quite some time to figure out a successful was to combat them without taking too much damage. Also new this go-round are the additions of hazards and obstacles on the battlefield. While some of these are as simple as barrels there are battles where you'll be on the other sides of massive craters or fire pits and it's extremely satisfying to use them to your advantage in battle, especially agains the game's tougher enemies.
I don't know if I'll be playing The Banner Saga 2 quite as long as I did it's predecessor, but it's a game that will surely be in regular rotation for quite some time as I explore everything it has to offer. It's very concerned with setting up the next installment of the series which in a way makes this game feel not quite as important as what came before or what's to come but it's still remarkably engaging and fun to play. If you were a fan of the original Banner Saga you need to play the sequel today.
Joe started off writing about video games for small fan sites when he realized he should probably do something with his communications degree and didn't want to get into the grind of daily reporting. Joining the team in late 2008, Joe is the featured game reviewer for Cheat Happens, producing up to 10 CHEATfactor Game Reviews per month.
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