The best choice.
Choice games have bored me of late. Maybe it’s because they all have the same design laid down by Telltale, with all choices leading to the same goal. Maybe it’s also compounded by the fact I had to review 4/5ths of MineCraft Story Mode and just cooked myself through.
If there is a game where choices truly matter The Banner Saga 3 is either it or a close relative to it. Finalising a long saga I’ve never felt like a game really made me consider the weight of my actions before now. I’ve never been so invested in a situation which makes me feel so hopeless. Truly this is a story worthy of being called a choice-driven adventure.
A story I will be glancing around. No spoilers here.
Now what happens in this game will depend on your choices from the last two. Therefore me giving you a rundown is somewhat pointless. If you have imported all your saves then your choices follow through but if not you are simply allocated the best timeline. From here the gameplay divulges onto two fronts: The interactions between characters, making logistic decisions and other choices demanded of you. The other side of this is the tactical battles, using your mind and wits to survive in this harsh world.
The narrative side is dispersed between all the main meat of the game. Now there are a lot of characters, and it’s refreshing to have enough time to get to know them all. I would recommend having played the previous two instalments, as references and placing faces to names is a lot easier. Behind all of this is a stunning soundtrack and art design, as before. Everything is designed to make the story feel alive, that this could really be real.
Now the combat has gone a little downhill since the previous games. Now with the plethora of characters, stoic has made the sensible move of extending the battle with waves. After each of these you get to swap out characters to keep going, giving all of them a chance to be used. The idea is sound, but the battles become gruelling and long. Quickly you’ll become tired of them and want to head back to the talking and the interesting interactions.
On the other end of this, the new levelling system can make the game too easy. Now once you level out a character you can just assign boosts to dodging and landing critical hits. Power into dodging and soon battles will become plenty easier. This is quite a juxtaposition to the other two where battles are nail-biting at many times.
Here’s my recommendation: Play these games one after the other and feel how they grow. Banner Saga 3 makes you uncomfortable at times. It confronts you with difficult questions and decisions you never really have to give a definitive answer to. It makes sure that you’ll work hard for what you earn from this, which is a phenomenal story that I will not be forgetting anytime soon.