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The Banner Saga 2 Review

The Banner Saga 2 Review

How do you cope with the loss of a loved one while the world crumbles around you? The Banner Saga 2 embraces this idea as it throws you into the role of either Rook or Alette following the climactic finale of the first entry. An immediate continuation of the story, you rejoin your caravan on their journey to Arberrang having narrowly avoided a massacre at the hands of the Dredge.

For many, it’ll be the opportunity to see the next part of the story that they’ll buy The Banner Saga 2. As a narrative-driven game, it is advised that you play the first entry, but there is a short recap video on the title screen if you want to jump on here. Running through key moments not directly connected to player decisions, anyone new can start up a playthrough with an understanding of the plot, and a decent selection of the returning cast in their party.

Like passing from The Fellowship of the Ring to The Two Towers, everything picks up where it left off. Importing your save, all of your companions are present; as is the lingering absence of those you lost along the way. With the help of your friend Iver—a Varl, a species of horned giants—you must lead the clansmen and fighters of countless ruined settlements safely to the capital.


When on the move, The Banner Saga 2 plays similarly to classic PC title The Oregon Trail. As my caravan traveled further eastward across the continent, I once again sat in awe at the beautiful hand-drawn landscapes complemented by the brass and woodwind melodies of returning composer Austin Wintory. Little has changed from the first game, but that’s not an issue. To me, there aren’t many games as pleasing in their combination of visual and audial elements.

The Banner Saga 2 will still punish you for your poor decisions and the lesson I learned last time carried over: trying to be a hero is never the best choice. Reading the thanks of rescued villagers may help me feel like a better person, but every time I came across someone on the road, a single thought would sit at the back of my mind: are they going to kill someone important to me? More often than not, I would pass them by. I left people to die. The Banner Saga 2 turned me into a monster.

The larger your party becomes, the fewer days your meager rations can stretch across. Once the carts are empty, people will be lost to starvation. The more you push them to outrun the relentless darkness on your heels, the lower morale becomes, affecting the willpower you enter battles with. Halting for a day's rest could cost lives later on, but the boost could be what turns the tide of the next battle.


The Dredge are your biggest threat. A faceless horde that emerge from cracks in the ground, they kill all whom they come across. As a god-like serpent splits the world into pieces, it is unclear to the heroes whether the Dredge are invading or simply seeking safety too. When combat breaks out, The Banner Saga 2 transitions into a turn-based strategy with perhaps my favourite combat system ever.

You can take up to six combatants into a fight, with the different races offering their own classes and enhanced stats. Varl are stronger, making them ideal as tanks and bruisers. Humans come in a range of archers, thrashers, spearmen, and menders. Certain classes compliment others, with the shield-wielding raidmasters boosting the armour of adjacent allies, and spearmasters able to boost their damage when others are in range of the same enemy.

Like a fantastical game of chess, you move your pawns across a tiled arena in turn. Each has an armour and a strength stat: an attacker’s strength must be higher than the defender's armour to guarantee damage, otherwise the attack is given a percentage hit chance. A character’s strength is also their health, so the closer someone is to death, the harder it is for them to land a hit. When in range, you can attack either their armour to open them up to more damage on your next turn, or their strength to attempt to kill or weaken a threatening foe.


This will not be new to anyone who played the first game, but what The Banner Saga 2 adds is a handful of new classes. My favourite character, Bolverk, is a Berserker who is undoubtedly the most powerful due to his ability to attack twice on every turn, but he can quickly be neutered if not protected. There’s also a new race of creatures with increased mobility, and a character that incorporates stealth to ignore armour. Knowing how to use everyone correctly is of utmost importance.

While you could enter a sparring mode to practice without risk of losing resources or damaging your characters in the first game, I never did as it offered little benefit. To amend this, The Banner Saga 2 adds a trainer. Speaking to him after recruiting new classes, he will offer you challenges that require mastery of the various abilities. These objectives make learning the small tricks of the combat system far more appealing, and rewards bonus resources for those who take the time to complete them.


The blend of the two parts of The Banner Saga 2 keeps you steadily engaged. Just when you’ve had enough of dialogue choices and resource management, a combat scenario mixes up the pace. A definite difficulty curve begins to appear towards the end, but I never reached a point where I felt like turning the setting down. The larger variety and frequent introduction of enemy types stops The Banner Saga 2 from becoming dull and repetitive, with the possibility of every encounter surprising you in a new way.

The Banner Saga is fast becoming one of the best series in modern games, with some of the strongest characterisation and world-building in years. After two games with these characters, Stoic aren’t hesitant to throw some huge revelations in the story, making the finale an absolute nail-biter once again. Stripping back the fantastical backdrop and action-oriented gameplay, the heart of The Banner Saga 2 is a personal story about loss and kinship. Stoic Studio have outdone themselves, and I simply cannot wait for the conclusion of this epic saga.

9.00/10 9

The Banner Saga 2 (Reviewed on Windows)

Excellent. Look out for this one.

Superb writing and a unique combat system combine to make The Banner Saga 2 something quite special, in the same way it did back in 2014. The larger variety and frequent introduction of enemy types stops The Banner Saga 2 from becoming dull and repetitive. The Banner Saga is fast becoming one of the best series in modern games, with some of the strongest characterisation and world-building in years.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Tom Bickmore

Tom Bickmore

Staff Writer

Biggest mug at GameGrin

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mackie daud
mackie daud - 03:02pm, 5th January 2019

Norse really are cool. The artstyle is Screensaver worthy. This is a great review. Check this review out if you want more.