Banner Saga 2 picks up shortly after the end of the original, with all your decisions from the first carrying over if you have a present save file on your platform of choice. If not, you can make a couple of choices to sort of fill in the blanks. I will avoid spoilers to the best of my ability, and keep the details light where possible. This is a story that can play out differently for everyone, and bonds I formed with certain characters may not play out in your story the same.
After the end of Banner Saga, thoughts of impending doom dwell over many, your banner included. A giant serpent roams the land seemingly without reason, destroying villages with the quakes that its unimaginable size creates. The dredge are around by the masses, and after the loss of one of their leaders, they are acting a bit different. While some act different, revelations made at the end of the first entry allude to the fact that they may not all be bad, but more misunderstood as it would have it (which seems to cause many issues in our real world history.) How you tackle these changes to the world will define your Banner’s view of you and the outcomes that lie ahead. Whether you choose to lead as Rook or his daughter Alette, the story is yours entirely. Decisions this time around feel more impactful on the spot, as well as long term. Many of my hard fought choices made me anxious of the outcomes as the story deepened. I feared making the wrong calls, which is all part of the game and how everything entwines. This feeling of anxiousness is a lot more frequent in the second entry as the stakes are raised on a global scale, and you have to worry not only about your main characters but your clan as well.
Not only do you get to play as Rook or Alette, but also Bolverk, the Varl leader of the mercenaries known as the Ravens. He and his Ravens were introduced in the first, but this outing has you spending more intimate time with the group. Bolverk has his own role to play with the happenings in the world, and how you approach it is up to you. He is a hardened character, and while I like to be a kind and giving person in the real world and video games, I took some more aggressive approaches with Bolverk, but not always. It was fun to play with both sides of the spectrum so to speak. His dynamics with human interactions are interesting to say the least, as he cares for his Ravens and only them. Loyalty and oaths are worth more to him then it is to others, but that’s not to say coin does not mean something either. He is not as fond of humans as Iver, the famous Varl who was once expected to reign as king. Iver preferred a simpler life after his glory days, and it is great to see his open companionship towards humans like Rook and Alette. The growth and development of some relationships in this sequel make for some memorable story aspects.
Aesthetically, the game is still gorgeous. With detailed characters and vibrant landscapes, the looks are wholly impressive. The cut scenes are top notch too, and even though I felt there was more this time around, I still cannot get enough of them. While there is not full-fledged voice acting still, when it does show up from time to time it is a welcome addition to the overall appeal. The songs are still emotionally in tune, but in some moments of quiet, more music would be welcome. Hell, I would love to have an animated, fully voiced Banner Saga movie in lieu of having the games voiced over.
On the Switch, some technical issues still prevail. Do not, I repeat, do not put your game in sleep mode in the middle of a fight. In most cases, it is going to slow down and not load appropriately, and crash upon completion. Other sound loading issues can sometime be an annoyance, but not a game crashing issue like the aforementioned.
Banner Saga is coming to an end this month, and I am already working my way through the final chapters. I am glad to have finally got around to playing the series this summer, because I am loving it. I get to experience all three titles back to back to back, in a portable and mostly dependable form. The game looks great, and the minor tweaks and additional polish are truly making it stand out from its first go around. I cannot wait to see what Banner Saga 3 has in store for its hopefully stunning conclusion.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purpose of the review
Final Score: 8.5/10
+Strong Ending and
Well Told Narrative
-Switch Tech Issues Still Present