The best word I could use to describe The Banner Saga would be, Bleak. I enjoyed my time playing it, but it is like The Road of turn based tactical games. This is much more true the further into the story you get. Times are hard, and that is the point of the game. You have to press on through situations that leave you feeling as if you are just barely hanging on. Pushing through the hardships of traveling to outrun the oncoming scourge that is leaving cities destroyed and people slain in its path.
The tactics system was put together very well and I loved the art direction. In battle you have the Varl who are larger and take up more tiles on the board, your archers, your spearsman, and menders which are like a mage. Each person has a different skill set with different powers and you are able to schedule their turns accordingly. Keeping the big bulky fighters out front to protect the archers and menders. Their is also a shield mechanic that causes less damage to be done the higher the number is. When attacking you can choose to attack the shield or the HP. There are also some special attacks that allow you to damage both. This was an interesting direction to take and I thought it worked really well with the rest of the system.
The story has many different routes that can be taken. Some options will lead to more desolate routes while others can keep your caravan full of mead and enjoying themselves on the road. Some choices can kill members of your crew off for good, so be sure to choose wisely if there are characters you highly value. I enjoyed this element of the game very much and loved reading through the dialogue. You jump between different stories following Rook, the cover character, & Hakon the Varl. It gives you a good look into the lives of the different types of characters in this world that you are traveling through.
While heading out onto the road you have to ensure that your caravan is packed with supplies and well rested. You can make camp at any point while on the road and rest your soldiers, train, or level up your heroes using renown. You can do all of these things when in town as well, and only in town can you restock your supplies. That is, unless you are lucky in your journey and run into one of many different opportunities to refill your wagons by honest or dishonest means. You need to stay on top of things in order to keep up the morale of the caravan, and trust me that gets harder and harder on this long and arduous journey. Resting, winning, & having supplies should do the trick, but at times that’s easier said than done. If you do run out of supplies, be prepared to start losing clansmen & fighters by the day.
So although times get dark and the losses get heavy, The Banner Saga shines through with a triumphant story and terrific gameplay. It is all tied together with a very powerful ending aided by some amazing storytelling that I found to be very creative. I played on PC but it is available on all types of platforms. Xbox One, PS4, & mobile to name a few. So there you have it! There is no excuse to not check out The Banner Saga at some point in time, you can even play it on the bus, at jury duty, or while drunkenly perching on top of your roof while the neighbors call the police.