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A saga too far
Turn-based combat games have come a long way since the classic days of Laser Squad and Jagged Alliance, and while Banner Saga could have been a great addition to the genre, it sadly fails to live up to its inflated reputation. The story places you way back in Viking times and draws on mythology for its narrative hooks and twists. You're thrust into the role of a warrior who is part of a caravan making its way across the land and along the way, you'll find yourself meeting a vast cast of characters from different races, making life and death decisions while engaging in strategic turn-based combat. The whole thing is told with wonderfully animated cutscenes, while combat plays out in an isometric perspective, but you also have to manage your caravan along, which adds to the depth. There are over 25 playable characters to choose from, two different races, while permadeath also rears its controversial head and which again adds to the complexity of your decisions. On paper, the Banner Saga should have been great. It's got some gorgeous animation and character design, which really evokes the period and brings this rich world to life. Gameplay is intriguing when you start out, with a nice mix of decision making and combat but you soon realize that it doesn't really change much and there isn't as much depth as you expect. The whole thing feels like an extended tutorial rather than a full game and you just keep waiting for the real strategy to come. The combat is tough but it's repetitive and just not that fun, so unless you're a true diehard genre fan, you might want to skip this.