Viking-themed fantasy game The Banner Saga - reviews

Bleak, beautiful RPG combines Game of Thrones-style medieval warfare with Chess-like strategy

LAST UPDATED AT 07:41 ON Mon 20 Jan 2014
What you need to know

Reviewers are praising a "bleak" but "beautiful" new Viking-themed tactical role-playing video game, The Banner Saga just released in the UK. The computer game for PC and Mac was developed by a trio of independent game designers Stoic (formerly of BioWare) using Kickstarter funding.

The Banner Saga is set in a frozen Norse-inspired fantasy world, with an art style based on the 1950s hand-drawn animation of Disney artist Eyvind Earle. The single-player game requires players to build a band of warriors with complementary abilities and cross a frozen wasteland while fighting the invading Dredge aliens with medieval combat skills and tactical play.

A separate free-to-play online multiplayer game, The Banner Saga: Factions, is scheduled for release in February 2013.

What the critics like

"This is exquisitely produced fantasy, marrying Game of Thrones-esque medieval war fiction with the intricacies of a Chess-like combat board game," says Simon Parkin in The Guardian. It is a game with a strong sense of place, expressive 2D art and a score that is nothing short of extraordinary.

A sense of "human frailty and a dread enemy give this beautiful tactical battle game an edge", says Simon Munk on the Arts Desk. And it's rare to find a game that engenders such a sense of immersion, with such an interesting backstory.

"Ye Gods, The Banner Saga is as bleak as it is beautiful," with a visual style that shatters conventions, says Leif Johnson on IGN. It's also a tough tactical RPG that rewards thought and careful strategy.

What they don’t like

The game is engrossing and the art-style is simply jaw-dropping, but it's "not quite brilliant", says Erik Kain in Forbes. The combat can lack variety, and the enemies, which look like Aztec robots, seem totally out of place in this wonderful Viking world of bearded giants and mead halls.  · 

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