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The Banner Saga 2 evaluation: More of the same and another cliffhanger

Middle chapters are painful. The very first part of a trilogy gets all the amazing set-up bits. The third part wraps everything up. And two? Poor Part Two languishes, more "The start of the end" than a correct tale in its own.

In a lot of words: It's not that the 2nd chapter of pseudo-Nordic epic The Banner Saga 2 is bad, nor extremely short. With yet another cliffhanger non-ending, this second trip is less "A Sequel" and more "Another Episode"-- in a story extended, most likely, over the length of four years by the time we're done.

One ideal shot

The episodic feel is reinforced by the truth not much has actually altered in between The Banner Saga and its sequel. If you enjoyed enjoying your tiny caravan trudge throughout the landscape in prolonged cam pans the last time around? 10 more hours of that, broken up sometimes by a turn-based fight or a brief chat.

It's the exact same blend as before, though particular aspects are brand-new. You'll meet a race of centaur-folk known as the Horseborn, more clearly a group of outsiders than even the very first video game's huge race of Varl. In fight, the Horseborn play the function of dart-in-dart-out crack troops, able to run away after assaulting.

Battles are likewise more creative than the very first trip, more distinct. Most now focus on secondary goals-- for example, ending after a certain opponent is eliminated or a challenge cleared-- which reduces the tedium of grinding down an entire crowd of baddies as well as enables some interesting hold-out scenarios a la 300 Spartans versus the entire Persian army. You get a feel for the scope of these fights although you're just playing a little six-on-six chess video game.

That's The Banner Saga's technique, truly-- making much from little. A handful of soldiers are shorthand for an unstoppable force. A cross-section of forest stands in for a large maze of old growth. A couple of lines on a map and a little bit of taste text represent a whole kingdom we'll never visit.

And a dialogue box means numerous deaths. The Banner Saga 2 is still provided in the manner of a Select Your Own Adventure. Every 10 or so seconds on your slow ponderous journey to the human kingdom of Arberrang, a box will turn up with some occasion-- maybe your guards identified motion in the trees or you discover soldiers bothering an old female. You usually pick in between two or 3 strategies and then live with the effects.

This is the bulk of The Banner Saga-- making little, harmless options that sometimes get everyone eliminated. It's difficult being a leader throughout the end of the world.

Most of the game revolves around provisioning your caravan and keeping your followers alive, however not only is it fairly basic but there's actually very little reason to trouble aside from required sentimentality. Often the number of people in your caravan goes up.

Called characters struggle with the same problem as in the very first video game-- there are too damned numerous of them. And as soon as again, the video game has time for about 5 of them to have any meaningful influence on the story. The rest hover in the background, sometimes butting into offer roundabout "Oh captain, my captain" speeches or advise you "Ah yes, you're the red-cloaked archer lady with kids or whatever who I haven't heard from for the last ten hours."

And it's the crew from the initial video game that suffers most. Not long into The Banner Legend 2 our neatly-unified group splinters into 2 caravans again, and it's the new one-- The Ravens, led by the legendary Varl berserker Bolverk-- that carries the majority of the important story beats here. Which is terrific due to the fact that Bolverk is a badass, but less fantastic due to the fact that all the important characters from the initial Banner Saga remain in the other caravan which does ... well, nothing actually. Not much of anything, for the entire game.

Herein we return to The Banner Saga 2's biggest defect: It's the middle part of a trilogy. And a trilogy structured in the most unfulfilling method possible-- not 3 related-but-separate stories, however one prolonged tale chopped into three pieces.

Frodo walks a little closer to Mordor. Master Chief tells us he'll finish the battle, next time around. Neo does ... whatever the hell happened in The Matrix Reloaded.

Hence The Banner Legend 2 chooses up from one cliffhanger and drops us off at another, and-- simply like the first video game-- it cuts to credits right when the story starts to pick up. Join us once again for The Banner Saga 3.

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