Stoic Games’ denouement to their beautifully animated, Viking-inspired epic contains, in heaping doses, more of everything that made the first two turn-based tactics games so strong. The Banner Saga 3 offers a bloody and satisfying conclusion to the trilogy with plenty of tough choices, challenging encounters, and vivid characters. At the same time, it also fails to address the series’ few weaknesses: Rote combat, an avalanche of side characters with little importance to the plot, and a short adventure. Still, it spins a good yarn and delivers immediate consequences to your decisions in such a way that I was left wanting more.
It is the little details that lend weight to the stakes facing this beautiful, hand-drawn world. The devastation beyond the darkness as Iver’s band travels further into the belly of the proverbial beast is unnerving, almost haunting. The fates of his band of Ravens felt as immediate as the grander mission, with simple tactical decisions as we plodded along carrying immediate life-or-death outcomes. I chose poorly more than once, but each time I did so it felt fair. Whether they were a result of ignoring the advice of a seasoned companion or just misreading a situation, in hindsight it was clear that the failures I suffered were mine alone.
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