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The Banner Saga - turn based Viking epic - Steam release 14th Jan


Captain Kelsten
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The more I play this, the more I like it. Initially not knowing what the result of actions was going to be and the unfamiliar combat threw me but I like it all now (even when I lose my best fighter by making the wrong decision!). Only niggles are with the conversation system. The way it seemingly random cuts between characters that don't necessarily correspond to who is talking. It would be really helpful if you could at least scroll back through conversations to check exactly who said what etc. Also the age old problem of confusing intent of some options. Several times I've selected options that I thought were curious/sympathetic only to have them come out as accusatory/threatening.

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Hmm. It's all gone a bit Pete Tong...Left Sighron, but out of supplies so everyone's slowly dying

Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but the "Renowned" seems to unbalanced. You never have enough to promote or buy items (I've never bought anything throughout the game). When people can leave (sometimes it seems unavoidable) you lose any Renown spent on them (and I think any items they have equipped?). It doesn't help that the game is quite bad at giving you hints how long each journey is going to be, meaning you rarely know how many supplies to stock up on...

It's still good fun, but it's feeling quite punishing atm..

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Yep, that sounds familiar, and is part of the design I liked so much - it's good to go into a game where the setting is meant to be one of danger and disaster that doesn't force you to feel that way through scripted events, but by actually making the world dangerous and giving you uninformed decisions to make (whether narrative or in terms of expenditure) which can lead to tragedy. I actually made the opposite mistake - bought too many items early on, then spent large swathes of the game under-levelled/low on food, which was very painful.

It loses that on a second playthrough of course, as you have a clearer idea of what you're doing, but there's not really anything they could have done to avoid that short of full randomisation.

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Yeah I get the difficult choices thing, it's just a bit too much atm...not being able to buy items feels like I'm missing something (although some things drop which are nice), and not even a vague estimate of journey times is annoying.

The mindless members of your caravan don't really seem to make too much difference so far...maybe I'll just let em starve and get the party up :D

Edit: Without being too spoilerific, someone just asked for a private word and it's basically the Red Wedding only with less wedding and more death.

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I think there is a bit of a balance miscalculation for Rook's party - between Frostvellr and Einartoft, basically, you need foreknowledge of how rare supply stops will be if you don't want your caravan to starve. You need to spend almost all your renown on supplies every chance you get if you don't want to lose most of your caravan and that leaves very little for anything else; by contrast, Team Royalty is almost easy mode as you're never in danger of starvation and can rank up your heroes to your heart's content.

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Ah, I think we'll have to agree to disagree there - that certainly is the case from a purely mechanistic standpoint (it's almost impossible to plan ahead for what follows, and Rook's army is by far the hardest to play as), but for me that just ties the game to its narrative even tighter, which makes it even better - of course the Royal party made up of seasoned warriors ready for a long journey should have an easy go of it; of course the ragtag band of villagers struggling away from surprise attack should be poorly prepared, struggle against constant disaster and spend large parts of their journey starving! It was horrible, and it felt just right. It completely goes against Game Design 101, but for an interactive tale of fantasy woe it felt pitch-perfect to me.

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Yep - but just can't get close to him.

If I send Varl they get blocked, and if I send little people they can't take his 20/20 hits...

First time combat's been tricky, and I actually might try Easy. Feels unfairly punishing if you've lost certain people, or not been building the right way (e.g. breaks)

(Steam forums have some...strong opinions...on the topic of the last boss :P)

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Your little people shouldn't have to take his hits, and all of your Varl shouldn't need to get close - you should be able to chain damage to him through the Varl's heavy impact attacks/high armour sundering attacks (and if any do get close enough that's a bonus), while also serving as a wall to protect your little guys - having two archers with high armour break/the ability to chain lots of Will should allow you to deal at least ten armour damage per turn between them; more when supported by the varl. After that it's just a case of using the special weapon and then an easier mop-up battle.

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Yeah - I get what I have to do, but if the enemies are diagonal, you can't chain to them, and even then you only chain 1.

I don't have many sundering attacks, and knockbacks are pretty useless when they're stacked.

And yeah - Break + Will would be great. But since you could deal with fights easily before without maxing it, I haven't. So only doing 2 Arm damage an attack isn't great. It's entirely possible, and too easy, to be in a situation where you'll get to the end of the game without the ability to do the Arm damage you need per turn.

It throws a lot of Renown at you before the fight, but if you've already leveled you people the wrong way, and your alternate peeps haven't got the kills you can't level them up. It's a fight that's completely broken if you haven't been building your team in a specific way.

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Yeah, the supplies/reknown/journey stuff all brought up above felt to me like design decisions that were made on purpose. It grated when I was initially playing and the run to the last location was particularly brutal, but by the time the credits rolled the whole experience made complete sense

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It was more the other way around for me - I started to re-assess it afterwards. I loved the atmosphere evoked but feel that it could have been handled better.

One thing that took me ages to realise - you need to manually assign points to abilities when you promote characters. The game explains everything else but I think that bit is sort of glossed over.

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Yeah - I get what I have to do, but if the enemies are diagonal, you can't chain to them, and even then you only chain 1.

I don't have many sundering attacks, and knockbacks are pretty useless when they're stacked.

And yeah - Break + Will would be great. But since you could deal with fights easily before without maxing it, I haven't. So only doing 2 Arm damage an attack isn't great. It's entirely possible, and too easy, to be in a situation where you'll get to the end of the game without the ability to do the Arm damage you need per turn.

It throws a lot of Renown at you before the fight, but if you've already leveled you people the wrong way, and your alternate peeps haven't got the kills you can't level them up. It's a fight that's completely broken if you haven't been building your team in a specific way.

I suppose in a way playing on Hard for the first half may have made that easier for me - there's absolutely no way you can get through the first half of the game without making sure you had quick ways to deal with armour. But then, even for the latter half on Medium I found armour break to be crucial - not for everyone, but if you want to go through fights without casualties you need to be able to quickly whittle down the heavier opponents and focus characters' strengths. It's because of that that Rook already had max armour break by this point, and was equipped with an item which gave +2 break attack, all in support of his excellent 'mark prey' ability, while all of my archers had points ploughed into their Will chaining to allow them more versatility to offset their low strength.

If you'd always managed to scrape through without ever working on characters' Will and/or armour break potential I'm somewhat impressed, but it is a shame that's made the final battle insurmountable for you. Have you considered dropping to easy for it?

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Nah I worked on them - but everyone's rounded. You had to go after Arm before. So I'm really not built to "rush" down Armor.

I don't think it helped that some of my best items went when characters died (and no one thought to loot their corpses)

I just got very close (just didn't have the willpoint for Annette to use the Arrow)

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The something is Willpower!

And it was a level 1 item

And done - with some very creative mechanics/placement :)

Might have to re-do the ending through to get a different one

It's very good (broken last boss aside :P). Gives you some horrendous choices, often without a "right" answers. Nicely lets you see the results often. Combat is fun and genuinely different to what's come before, but the level up mechanic can make it tricky to get new characters in, meaning you can get set with the same few.

To be honest I suspect most of the problems come from it being such a small development team, and they can be forgiven.

I've got 11 hours on the clock (including and hour I left it running by mistake, but not several do overs) - and despite short running time, became really attached to a wide range (20ish?) characters...

Choices spoilers! It says something I think I can't remember them all - so much to do in the game. Can't quite see how they're going to tie it into episode 2...

Only a few people starved, generally kept the caravan going and moral.

Backed the twins, leveled one of them (the womaniser :P) to be in party most of the time.

Groosalag (not his name) fell over with the cart.

Ludin and Co were with me to the end

Foslag fell during the bridge defense

Alette had to kill someone...(

Destroyed the bridge (and got permission)

Onef betrayed me, and killed Eglin (who was one of my best fighters at the time, and with best items...his loss made the rest harder). Thank god Odd survived though.

Let Odd train the women - got Nid as a result :)

Took in the dredge baby - but nothing ever came of this?

Decided to let Alette step up and prove herself...now she's dead. Tempted to redo the ending. I like Rook/Alette continuing on the banner when Odd couldn't have kids...now the line dies ;( Then again the ending has her go to the afterlife, and that's where Juno came back from...

When's part 2 coming? :)

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I'd heard they were trying to copyright/trademark/whatever it's called Candy and Saga but I didn't think they'd actually be successful. Hope they lose terribly and get counter-sued for millions for being dicks. I guess this is similar to the Elder Scrolls/Scrolls thing, what was the eventual outcome of that?

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Yeah, the Elder Scrolls/Scrolls argument was ridiculous, but this is utterly absurd. Trademarking "Candy" and "Saga" separately, and fucking suing Stoic over it now that it looks like they might get the rights to Saga (having already gotten Candy and started stomping on other indies). I doubt Stoic can afford to mount a defence against King, and unless they do a Langdell and try and sue Squeenix over Romancing SaGa or something equally daft I fear we will end up with The Banner Saga being renamed and the poor bastards having to create new logos, artwork etc.

I guess it's no surprise that the creators of morally bankrupt, sinister game Candy Crush Saga would act in a morally bankrupt, sinister manner legally as well.

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<p>There is a daft PR line in this Kotaku report <a href='http://kotaku.com/candy-crush-makers-say-theyre-going-after-copycats-no-1506469218'>http://kotaku.com/candy-crush-makers-say-theyre-going-after-copycats-no-1506469218</a></p><p> </p><p>"This is an important issue for King because we already have a series of games where "Saga" is key to the brand which our players associate with a King game"</p><p> </p><p>Do people who play those games really associate 'saga' with the developer? Do most of them even know who the developer is? And if so, why make your brand name such a non-descript word? </p>

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