Trilogies are a dime a dozen when it comes to video games. However, franchises are rarely envisioned that way from the outset and, as a result, there are remarkably few developers who really seize upon the storytelling potential of the form. Bioware’s Mass Effect trilogy comes to mind as one of the few and while Stoic’s viking strategy RPG The Banner Saga comes from more humble origins, it’s well poised to do the same.
With The Banner Saga 2, developer Stoic continue the story they started in the first game while also refining the combat mechanics that bind it together. The characters are just as compelling, the combat just as engaging and the rich world just as fun to discover. As a follow-up to the first, it’s everything it needs to be and Stoic have done a great job on building on the series’ strengths.Set in a Scandinavian-inspired world of humans and giant-like Varl at the end of the world, the first Banner Saga saw you take up the mantle of Rook, a human reluctantly charged with leading his people to safety when hordes of the stone-skinned Dredge declare war.
The world of The Banner Saga 2 is dripping with detail, mood and mystery. It picks up pretty seamlessly from where the first game left off and there’s a cool elasticity to story’s appeal. If you’re coming to the game for epic battles and cryptic prophecies, you’ll find those things – but there’s also plenty of smaller more personal stories and relationships in the mix.Depending on how the ending of the first game went down, The Banner Saga 2 will either see you continue Rook’s journey south to the human capital of Arberrang or shift the perspective to that of his young daughter Allete as she tries to do the same. Though the overall shape of the story isn’t changed too much by this deviation, the changes made are pretty significant in terms of the thematic trajectory the narrative follows.