Coming along mere months after the release of the first game in the series, The Banner Saga 2 has made its way to the home consoles on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
The original Banner Saga was a very story-driven experience, relying on the player to invest themselves in the lore of its world to form a bigger picture. Thankfully this element has been retained for the sequel. Following immediately after the events of the first adventure, we find our hero Rook grieving from the devastating events of the last game’s finale and struggling to keep his head together whilst commanding his caravan of men and giants. If all that wasn’t enough, their previous victory is proving to be an exercise in futility as the Scourge hoards are still rampaging through the lands. Alongside Rook’s campaign there is also an option to play Alette, a hunter who rises through the ranks of the travelling caravan. Starting out as some who’s often overlooked or overshadowed by her peers before earning respect through her skills on the battlefield. Her story isn’t as personal as Rook’s, but it’s equally as interesting and well thought-out. The two stories inter-twine very well and act as a great counterbalance to one another, like two sides of the same coin. One a story of triumph, the other of downfall.
The Banner Saga 2 is a much more dramatic affair, the atmosphere here is much more harsh and unforgiving than in the original; where a ray of hope was often seen on the horizon. Lore is added by the bucket-load and even veers into territories that at first seem baffling, but ultimately work in the long run. These include the expansion of the Scourge mythology that borrows heavily from the works of H.P. Lovecraft, something that I certainly didn’t see coming in a tale so heavily steeped in Nordic mythology. We’re also introduced to some new species like the race of Centaurs who charge headfirst into both the combat and the story, equally throwing both out of balance.