View Full Version : A master list of Banner Saga previews?

12-22-2013, 03:07 PM
Do we have a master list of banner saga previews anywhere?

Here are several recent previews:

And some older ones:

I have to run off and do some last minute Christmas preparations, but if some other fans would like to sort these previews by date, and add any ones I've forgotten, that would be awesome! I'd just like to create a more thorough list than what's on the official Stoic Press webpage.

Slimsy Platypus
12-22-2013, 06:26 PM
Also to add to your list

Eurogamer 12/19/13 http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-12-19-the-banner-saga-much-more-than-youre-expecting
Indie Statik 12/16/13 http://indiestatik.com/2013/12/16/banner-saga-2/
Vg24/7 12/10/13 http://www.vg247.com/2013/12/10/the-banner-saga-marches-to-launch-stoic-talks-style-stats-and-strategy/ (not a preview per say, but a great interview with Stoic's Alex Thomas)

12-26-2013, 11:22 AM
Polygon - 12/24/13

12-27-2013, 06:33 AM
Here's a Greek one :)


What follows is its translation, for those who are curious about what I wrote in there!

The Banner Saga Preview: Vikings, turn-based combat, roleplaying. A true indie diamond that will mark a new era!

The Banner Saga is a strategy game that takes you along a living story, an epic Saga, which travels around a fictional world strongly influenced by Nordic myth. It was developed by Stoic Studio (http://stoicstudio.com/), a Texas based group of three BioWare veterans, after an especially successful Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/stoic/the-banner-saga) campaign in 2012. The main part of the game is tactical turn-based combat with influences from games like Final Fantasy Tactics, Fire Emblem and Shining Force. Apart from the fights themselves, you will have to take care of the people following your ever-moving caravan, similarly to classic games like Oregon Trail and King of Dragon Pass. Finally, the roleplaying element runs in the veins of the story narrated in the Banner Saga, through an extensive dialogue system with multiple options always accompanied by negative and positive consequences.

The sun has stopped in the sky. A bad omen… Hordes of chthonic beings referred to as the “Dredge” have risen from their long slumber and are amassing spreading terror in their wake. They will hunt you and chase you from your hearths and quiet lives, forcing you to form caravans to escape them, in a never-ending race where the enemy is always one step behind. Fortunately, the humans are not alone in their struggle against this sudden menace. The horned giants called “Varl”, ancient enemies of the Dredge and hand-crafter by long-forgotten gods, are at your side. Can you stand, united, against the common foe? Can you find the answers to the mystery of their coming? Can you even survive their onslaught?

It should have now become clear that the Banner Saga is, in its essence, a survival game. You will witness the story through the eyes of the main protagonists, burden yourselves with their troubles and, in the course of the game, will be forced to take decisions in hard dilemmas, often without correct answers, in order to secure what you consider more important for the caravan you are leading. The roleplaying is fused into the characters, the dialogues and their choices, making the game feel like the narration of a “living” book. Hard battles await you around every corner. Using the characters/heroes/fighters, who the story and your own choices threw in your caravan, you will have to best your foes in tactical turn-based combat. Your prowess in those battles (victory or defeat, casualties) along with the rest of the decisions taken along the way, will greatly impact your caravan’s morale, supplies and population. More information on the travel system can be found in this trailer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKr4onLjgqo). The fate of your people is in your hands...

The Banner Saga’s main dish is the battles. The combat mechanics may seem simple at first, but you will soon fathom the rich spectrum of different strategies that need to be adapted for each confrontation. This short tutorial trailer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MWgPIOgtjI) will put you in the spirit of the combat system. In each battle, you select the characters/heroes that will fight, and deploy them in “chessboard” grid already occupied by the enemy units. There is a big variety of different units each having a set of attributes (armor, strength, willpower etc.) along with unique special abilities you can use. In each turn, you control one of your units, following a fixed order initiative displayed in the bottom of the screen, that can move and/or attack an enemy and/or activate a special ability. The enemy then controls one of his units, in a similar manner, after each of your turns. The goal of the battles is to knock-out all enemy units, and have the least possible casualties in your team. By winning these battles you earn “Renown”, the game’s currency, which you can spend to upgrade/improve your characters, equip them with magical items or purchase supplies for your caravan’s survival. Emerging victorious in all the battles is not required to move through the story but, the better the outcome, the higher your renown and the fairer the impact on your caravan. Finally, note that your characters/heroes do not die (permadeath) when knocked-out in combat; they just need a recovery time to get back to full health for the next battle, which is never too far down the road. Your heroes can permanently die only as a consequence of choices made along the way or other story events, but never as a result of a battle knock-out. Beware: the developers claim the story is in the mature spirit of books like Game of Thrones, so be prepared to part with some of your beloved characters!

We have saved the best for the end. What will truly captivate you in the Banner Saga is the amazing landscape artwork, reminiscent of Eyvind Earle style, in combination with the distinctive cartoonish sprites inspired by the golden age of Disney animated films. Snowy mountaintops, dark forests, fortified towns, abandoned villages and haunted ruins, all impressed in hand-drawn images of rare beauty. The visual experience is framed by the fantastic musical score of Austin Wintory, renowned for his work on the acclaimed game Journey. Unfortunately, the combined acousto-optic effect is hard to put into words, so you will have to play the game to enjoy it in its full splendor!

To summarize, the Banner Saga is an aesthetically beautiful strategy game relying on a strong story and an innovative, addictive and well developed turn-based combat system. Despite the three difficulty levels, even the average gamer will have a hard time on his first battles, only to find out that the challenge increases exponentially! This constitutes a deliberate choice, adding to the overall feeling of danger, pursuit and survival that the game emits. Finally, we need to stress that the Banner Saga, a game of very high quality, is still an indie production from a three-person studio; so, it is reasonable to expect a “rough around the edges” game. Good news is that Stoic Studio have planned for another two installments to conclude the story arc of the game.

The Banner Saga launches in January 14, 2014, for Windows & Mac (Linux version will also come in the future). Pre-orders (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zIGKnL9RPI) are currently available on Steam (18.39€), GameFly, GameStop and Gamers Gate, while a DRM-free version on GoG.com is also planned. The marketing of the game is done by Versus Evil (http://vsevil.net/). In the meanwhile, you can hone your skills and taste the combat mechanics of the game in its free PvP offspring called “The Banner Saga: Factions (http://store.steampowered.com/app/219340/)” that is available on Steam since February 2013.


12-28-2013, 08:54 PM
Thanks Aleo!

There are quite a few for sure - we have some of the better ones on our press page too!

12-31-2013, 09:48 AM
Here's a link to a good interview with Stoic about The Banner Saga:

Gameinformer - 12/30/13

01-01-2014, 12:38 PM
Added an English translation of the Greek preview, in my previous post. I actually think this one sounds better than the original :D Perhaps its my brain thinking in English! You could also see some interesting remarks raised in the comments section (in English too, dunno why!)

01-01-2014, 01:38 PM
Thanks, Aleo.

01-03-2014, 09:07 AM
Invision Community - 1/1/2014


01-04-2014, 03:58 PM
What an awesome review, Aleo, thanks!

01-06-2014, 01:50 PM
Red Door Blue Key - 01/06/2014


An interesting critical review of the game. I understand why players who just want to fight might find the large number of characters and frequent the text events annoying. If they just want battles, I think they should play Factions. But I'm disappointed by the news that The Banner Saga has only one save slot. It would nice if we could play multiple games simultaneously (or restart without having to abort the current game).

01-06-2014, 02:51 PM
Red Door Blue Key - 01/06/2014


An interesting critical review of the game. I understand why players who just want to fight might find the large number of characters and frequent the text events annoying. If they just want battles, I think they should play Factions. But I'm disappointed by the news that The Banner Saga has only one save slot. It would nice if we could play multiple games simultaneously (or restart without having to abort the current game).

Thanks Quartex. A really "sharp" preview, that one. I believe most of his criticism originates from the fact that he expected something else. Some of his other points address areas that are too subjective (e.g. the number of save-slots, the balance between battle and narrative, how the story/world unfolds etc). In my opinion, the most interesting concern raised is the following:

Regarding verbosity: TBS is painfully laden with minimally interactive stretches of dialogue, multiple-choice text events, and a bevy of forgettable characters. Perhaps the developers had such faith in their art design that they never questioned whether they could sustain such extensive attempts at narrative and lore.

Not saying that I agree with his "tone", but his message can be read in this way too: TBS#1 aims too high. Although some disappointment might arise from very-high expectations vs. not-so-excellent product (in every aspect), the good thing is that most of those problems can be easily addressed along the way (patches) or in future projects (TSB#2 :)).

01-06-2014, 02:56 PM
I believe you can often learn more about a game by reading the negative reviews than by reading bland positive reviews/summaries that so many reviewers write.

01-06-2014, 03:18 PM
I believe you can often learn more about a game by reading the negative reviews than by reading bland positive reviews/summaries that so many reviewers write.

That's true for every product, not just games ;) I was too fond of the game to find the detachment necessary to write a critical review :o (and, I am not qualified to be a game reviewer, in the first place!).

01-06-2014, 08:06 PM
Hm. The Red Door Blue Key guy may have a point about the writing. The text in http://zebcsn6jzu67wxhm.zippykid.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/2014-01-06_00016.jpg (the image) has a couple of grammatical errors ("[he] get"? [he] end up?).

01-07-2014, 06:08 AM
This is the one I wrote for akihabarablues.com:

Akihabara Blues (in Spanish) 12/16/2013: http://akihabarablues.com/the-banner-saga/

01-07-2014, 08:45 AM
Two Dash Stash - 1/7/2014


01-07-2014, 10:18 AM
Pixels for Breakfast - 1/7/2014


This is a beautifully written preview. I specifically liked the following section:

"There is a moment in the preview build that will forever stick with me. Safe in my small village, The Dredge quickly stormed through, killing women and children and taking our supplies. We were forced to run, and as the civilians began to flee to the hills, my soldiers and I took a stand. Just as the blood began to spill, the snow began to fall around us. It was moving in a way I simply cannot describe, and it was that very moment that sold me on what The Banner Saga is trying to achieve."

01-07-2014, 10:52 AM
The reason there aren't multiple save slots is because the game intends for you to not always win, or at least win completely unscathed all the time. Unlike in most games losing a battle in Banner Saga doesn't equal game over. Losing just makes your future battles more difficult or reduces the number of your supplies/followers. If Banner Saga had another save slot many players would just save/reload every time something bad happened. There'd be little suspense to text events as you'd always be able to reload after a disastrous choice.

I find it very weird the reviewer did enough research into Banner Saga to say that it gets a lot inspiration from King of Dragon Pass yet he views the text events as hindrances to the core gameplay which is completely ridiculous. KoDP's story is conveyed entirely through text events. It'd be like someone who hates cheese ordering an extra cheese pizza and then giving the pizza a poor review due to overabundance of cheese. The reviewer should have known Banner Saga was an extra-texty game, yet for some reason choked on its wordiness. Most other reviews/previews explain the gist of the story to their readers but he didn't. He chose also not to explain the travel system (which is a major pillar of gameplay) or about collecting renown, instead summarizing the entire game as

It looks like the sort of RPG you’ve played dozens of times before: gather a party, equip some gear, then travel the worldmap visiting towns and fighting bad guys.

Really? I'm pretty sure you lead an entire clan over beautifully illustrated landscapes, fighting mysterious enemies called "the Dredge". Oh and the gods are dead.

The reviewer goes out of his way to not give people the most basic explanation of why the game might be fun for them in favor of covering its game systems without explaining their purpose other to say that they sucked or he didn't get it. Negative reviews are quite helpful when they are objective but this is anything but. My guess is that the reviewer came in with the expectation Banner Saga would be like Blackguard (another tactical RPG he reviewed) and fast forwarded through the story in an effort to get to the tactics part of the game. Hopefully when he reviews the full game he'll give a proper accounting of what Banner Saga actually is instead of what he expects it to be.

Edit: The Pixels for Breakfast preview is very good indeed. I liked this little tidbit, though in the grand scheme of things might not seem so significant:

Each town has a banner: a fragile piece of fabric, with the stories of those living within its walls woven onto either side.

01-07-2014, 10:59 AM
I've played some pretty wordy games (RPG fan and all), and avoided quite a number of others. And generally, based on that and having done some playtesting for the game, I've found Saga to be just about the right amount of wordy. There's a lot of the game that's more show instead of tell.

I was also impressed that I was compelled to read the dialogue and events, compared to how I gloss over a lot of text from other games (like in MMOs for example, or from when I tried the demo for Amalur). The text in the game doesn't overwhelm you, and dialogue goes at a pretty natural pace.

Seems some reviewers have had some trouble following as they read though or comprehending it, not exactly sure why.

01-07-2014, 11:11 AM
I'm sure there's a commentary on the literacy of more videogame players in here somewhere. :) I still remember playing text adventure games like Zork as a kid, where the entire game was text.

01-07-2014, 11:20 AM
I am glad to hear you use the phrase "more show than tell". I am eager to see for myself next week!

A reviewer on a deadline likely wants to get their job done asap and text interferes with getting their article out. Reviewing multiple MMOs would incline one to skip over text. That would explain much of the issues in my opinion. There is such a huge gap of reading a preview of someone who gets Banner Saga and someone who doesn't.

I still remember MUDs I used to play! Never played any games with grues though, lol.

01-07-2014, 11:37 AM
A.V. Club - 1/7/2014


(Not a preview, but a short blurb about the game)

01-08-2014, 12:18 PM
Spong - 1/8/2014


01-08-2014, 01:52 PM
Spong - 1/8/2014


Another positive preview. Only in the final paragraph does he mention some of the problems other previewers magnified...

01-09-2014, 08:51 AM
GameGrin - 1/9/2014


The screenshots and synopsis of the game are so generic that it makes me doubt if the author played a preview copy. It almost sounds like they got all their information from other previews. But maybe the lack of new information is just a sign that I've been reading too many previews recently. :)

01-09-2014, 09:00 AM
VG24/7 - 1/9/2014


This is one of the best written previews I've read so far. (along with Pixels for Breakfast, above) The opening paragraph is great thematic summary of the game:

"In The Banner Saga’s lovingly-crafted realm of frail humans, horned giants and all-consuming evil, a family’s legacy is weaved into the fabric of banners hoisted proudly above warbands on the march. They trudge through the biting cold, growing old, sick and weary, always looking up to you for guidance. You’ll make decisions along the way, some poor, others deadly but maybe, just maybe your army will live long enough to see the world brought to some kind of order."

01-10-2014, 07:14 AM
This is the one I wrote for unkiegaming.com:

12/19/2013: http://unkiegaming.com/reviews/preview-the-banner-saga/

01-10-2014, 07:17 AM
This is the one I wrote for unkiegaming.com

12/19/2013: http://unkiegaming.com/reviews/preview-the-banner-saga/

I'm also in the process of the reviewing the game at the moment too.
Will be live when the embargo lifts on the 14th.

01-10-2014, 08:25 AM
Unkie Gaming - 1/10/2014


Slimsy Platypus
01-10-2014, 09:26 AM
Unkie Gaming - 1/10/2014


Extremely positive praise in that one! I couldn't be any more expired to play!

01-10-2014, 09:56 AM
I couldn't be any more expired to play!

Slimsy is literally DYING to play. Who is surprised ;)?

01-12-2014, 11:04 AM
Video Games Uncovered - 1/11/2014


01-12-2014, 11:05 AM
16 bits - 1/12/2014


01-13-2014, 04:23 PM
Bug Sushi - 1/13/2014

A brief preview and a podcast interview with Stoic.