Also available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS, Android, Linux, OSX, and Windows
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 01/05/2020 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
The Banner Saga 3 is the culmination of an epic fantasy trilogy that puts you in the position of leader of a caravan of refugees fleeing a Dredge invasion and a mysterious world-destroying “Darkness.” As was the case with the transition from The Banner Saga to The Banner Saga 2, the jump to The Banner Saga 3 sees almost nothing change. There are a couple of very minor quality of life tweaks that were made, but those are so minor that a lot of players might not even notice them. The only other big change is, as was the case with the second game, a bump to the level cap; the max level is now 15 instead of 10. Otherwise, it’s pretty much another continuation.
With the huge cliffhanger on which The Banner Saga 2 ended, there was a lot for The Banner Saga 3 to live up to. Personally, I found this third entry to be the weakest of the three, but that’s like saying that Fat Man was a weak bomb when you line it up against Castle Bravo and Czar Bomba; the weakest of three VERY strong entries is still pretty dang strong. By the time we get to this point in the narrative, the caravan has arrived in the last known free city in the world unswallowed by the ever-encroaching darkness, and it’s time to put up or shut up. The pressure is on as our heroes literally stare Armageddon in the face and try desperately to hold out against the slew of enemies pounding on the gates while a small team tries to venture into the Darkness and stop it from destroying all of creation.
The only minor problem I had with the fact that almost nothing has changed since the first game is that by the time you get to the third ten-hour game with almost no change to combat, the battles can feel a bit boring after a while. You know your basic strategy, you know your preferred combat line-up, and you know what enemies have what abilities for the most part; a lot of the fighting turns into a wash/rinse/repeat scenario, and that’s not going to hold everyone’s attention. I still found it personally enjoyable, but it was certainly less captivating at Hour 25 than it was at Hour 3.
Since this is a trilogy with no real visual or mechanic changes that flows pretty seamlessly in terms of narrative, it’s not a series you can really just jump into anywhere you like; to get a full appreciation for the trilogy and its story, you really have to start at the beginning. It’s fortunate, then, that the trilogy is available in a single package which is how I played it on Switch. The physical version of the trilogy, while coming on one game card, does require a download to start, so it’s not great in terms of preservation, but it is nice to have all three games in one bundle with one application to launch.
The Banner Saga 3 is the epic conclusion to a Nordic fantasy adventure that I honestly didn’t expect to love as much as I did. The characters are interesting and pretty deep, the storyline is compelling, the world is fascinating, the combat is fun, and the choices you have to make are difficult with often gut-wrenching consequences with which you have to learn to live. It was a remarkable trip that I wish I could experience for the first time all over again, and I consider the trilogy to be an absolute must-own for Switch players.