Hot on the heels of the first Banner Saga we now have the sequel available to play on the Nintendo Switch. With the third game right around the corner, now is the perfect time to jump into the Banner Saga if you haven’t already. And because of it’s genre, the Nintendo Switch is likely the most fitting place to play it, whether that be on the TV at home or out on the go in handheld mode. The Banner Saga 2 builds on the foundation created in the first game, improving many of it’s systems and introducing new game-play mechanics. Although it does suffer from some of the narrative downfalls that come from being the second entry in a planned trilogy.
The Banner Saga 2 originally launched on other consoles back in 2016, and you can now pretty much play the game on any platform of choice. The game picks up just after the events of the climactic battle of the first game starting with chapter 8. The story of these games, very much like The Lord Of The Rings is one big narrative that is split over the course of three games, with chapters 1-7 taking place in the first Banner Saga.
If you haven’t played the first game I highly, highly recommend that you go and do that first before jumping into the sequel. While developers Stoic have tried to bring new players up to speed via a recap cutscene that can be watched at the start of the game, those that have played the first game are able to import their save data so that the decisions and character choices from the first game carry through and affect the way that the Banner Saga 2 plays out. If you for some reason want to skip the first game and jump right in, you can as the game will allow you to choose the outcome of the decisions from the first game but it really does take some of the fun out of it when you don’t get to shape the world of the game yourself.
For those not familiar with the Banner Saga, it’s a narrative driven strategy RPG that contains an incredibly engaging Nordic story-line that is presented in a blend of beautiful hand drawn animated cutscenes and visual novel style text dialogue. The core game-play of the game takes place in it’s battle’s where your chosen units face off against the enemies units in a Final Fantasy Tactics & Disgaea style grid using strategy and your characters abilities to come out on top. These fight’s along with the decisions you make outside of combat drastically influence the way the story plays out, with characters able to permanently die if you make a wrong set of choices.
For the Banner Saga 2, Stoic took the feedback from the first game and improved upon the already solid framework they had in place. Improving the animation quality slightly but still keeping the iconic art style from the first game. The world of the sequel seem’s more vibrant and has a greater sense of life, the animated cutscenes seem more polished with more of them being voiced this time around and the soundtrack of the game continues to be one of the big highlight’s and will be really appreciated by those that love great video game scores.
In terms of game-play the Banner Saga 2 has given the secondary character’s a lot more involvement this time around rather than having them feel just like padding characters in case your unit’s happen to die. Characters can still die during the course of the story. And when it’s one you’ve grown quite attached to it really sucks. Individual characters can now level to rank 10 instead of 5 and continue to gain new abilities and greater strength as they grow. Stoic have added in more player and enemy types as well as a new race of character, the Horseborn which add’s to the strategy aspect of the battles and keeps thing’s dynamic and interesting in each battle.
The battle system is still easy to learn, and treads a good line between being too easy or too hard. The battles are rewarding and encourages the trying out of new battle strategies with its training mode at camps where you can try out new abilities, tactics or character types before heading out into battle.
While the Banner Saga 2 is great for the most part I did find some of the battles towards the tail end of the game to get a bit repetitive, padding out the end sequences a little. This wasn’t a major problem as the story for the most part is told with great pacing and is quite streamlined with a full play-through possible in 10-12 hours.
The ending of the game is also really abrupt leaving some major story threads unresolved and coming at a really unexpected point in the story. While I knew the overarching story is a trilogy and things would carry over to kick off the third entry, I didn’t expect it to end where it did and would have loved more resolution to this part of the story.
Banner Saga 2 is another strategy tactics RPG that feels right at home on the Nintendo Switch. It improves on the great framework of the first game adding in some tweaks to the game-play mechanic’s and further polishing the visual’s since the first game. While it does begin to get repetitive towards the end of the game and it’s ending seemingly come’s out of nowhere, leaving much unresolved it does have me interested on jumping into the final entry in the trilogy when it launches later this month.
A Nintendo Switch review code was provided by the distributor for our Banner Saga 2 Nintendo Switch review.