Oregon Frail: The Banner Saga’s Brutal Journey

By Nathan Grayson on November 22nd, 2013 at 9:00 am.

'What a strange fate,' muses Philoso-Dredge, 'that such a slight, brittle object could fell such a majestic beast.'

Order Of Business The First: You should know that The Banner Saga – which I developed a sort of gleeful Stockholm Syndrome toward after it crushed my spirits like so many brittle icicles for three hours – has a release date! Shamefully, we missed the initial announcement, but I will now atone for that mistake by a) telling you and b) dripping hot wax into my eyes. Alright then, let’s begin: The Banner YEAAAAGGHGHGOHHHCHRIST Saga is coming out on NYEAAARGGHHHWHYYY January AAAAAAAAAHHHH 14th PLEASECALLANAAAAAAAAMBULANCE. *Days of intensive care pass* OK, that out of the way, let’s watch a video of The Banner Saga’s Oregon-Trail-but-with-miserably-tough-choices travel system. (I can’t actually see it or anything anymore, but I’ll enjoy it vicariously through you.)

The systems in question – morale, supplies, and population – really do have a huge impact. Managing them isn’t easy. It’s like juggling chainsaws with hooks instead of hands (presumably because you lost your hands the last time you decided it’d be a good idea to juggle chainsaws). As I explained in my preview:

“It was frustrating. It was frustrating because I couldn’t be everything for everybody. For every one person I pleased, I pissed off another ten. But keeping people happy and keeping them alive, as it turned out, were two very, very different things. Going off the beaten path to rescue a village from Dredge assault might have sounded like the right thing to do, but was it really? For my steadily dwindling troops? For my tired, hungry peasants? For morale? For the respect of my best fighters? Playing hero, as it turned out, was rarely practical.”

“I felt like an incompetent, indecisive leader every trudging step of the way, and it was magnificent. The Banner Saga’s world is a harsh, frigid place, and its cast of characters are far from simple lockstep lackeys. If you want their respect, you’ll have to earn it. Sometimes that means making tough calls – ugly decisions that’ll twist and writhe around inside your guts for days to come. But that’s leadership for you. It’s not about being loved. You get results, and you worry about popularity contests later.”

In my experience, it was rough, but never dull. I found myself enjoying the frigid, treacherous road nearly as much as I did the thick of battle. I’m hoping the significantly less rough-around-the-edges launch version is even better, as there’s definitely potential for big things here. We’ll see. (Well, except for me. You know, hot wax and all that.)

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17 Comments »

  1. GernauMorat says:

    Kinky

  2. Teovald says:

    I backed this an eternity ago, I am very much looking forward to playing it.

  3. Alexander says:

    Is it really that easy recovering from pouring hot wax in your eyes? Will have to try it now, will reference Nathan when they ask me why.
    Game’s looking spiffy.

  4. Hanban says:

    Every time I see the game I am just blown away by how pretty it is. Really looking forward to its release.

  5. draigdrwg says:

    I like the big weird monolithic stuff in the overworld. This game really is very pretty.

  6. Shiri says:

    Just posting to let everyone who hasn’t played the multiplayer know that the core system is so sound that this is about 98% likely to be worth it.

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    Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    That title pic: A runic Cyberman? Appropriate given the Dr Who frenzy currently building to “eating each other” levels in some places.

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    lowprices says:

    Looks good. By the time this comes out I should be done with XCOM: Enemy Within, so I’ll have plenty of space in my heart for another turn-based strategy in which everything goes wrong.

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      Szpil says:

      So true! I also love it when everything goes wrong. And in the game!

  9. Michael Fogg says:

    King of the Dragon Pass Tour Edition

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    cpt_freakout says:

    Is anyone else a bit disappointed about the animations? To me, they look a bit clunky and unconnected, but perhaps that’s just because they’re a bit slow. Other than that, I’m really excited to play this.

  11. sophof says:

    Wow, this looks and sounds great, how have I managed to miss this game so far?

  12. EvaUnit02 says:

    Comments from Angry Internet Men whining about their Kickstarter donation supposedly funding a F2P MP game in 3, 2, 1…

  13. KillahMate says:

    What I find very strange are the comments on some game sites (well, Kotaku) whenever this game is mentioned decrying its supposed ugliness. I mean, what? I know tastes are subjective, but how can anyone see this game as anything but breathtakingly beautiful? I’m one of the backers, but I never actually expected the game to be quite this faithful to the Kickstarter illustrations. It’s uncanny. And contrary to my usual stance, I have zero issues with the animation. Possibly because I’m very old and the low framerate brings back happy memories of certain 90s games.

  14. hilltop says:

    Given the kickstarter reached over seven times the initial target, does anyone know if there will be more animations (instead of stills with voiceover) than were initially planned?
    I saw on the kickstarter FAQ that they were doing the whole “kick it forward” thing. I’m not sure if this means none of the excess funds went into The Banner Saga or were passed on to some other kickstarter.

    Anyone have news on this?

    • DatonKallandor says:

      The Kick it Forward thing means they promise (whatever that’s really worth) to spend 5% of their profit on Kickstarter projects by other developers. Profit referring to the money they make when the game they kickstarted is out, not the kickstarter funds.

  15. ZzzZombi says:

    I can’t comment on the gameplay but these guys really know how to design UI and the graphics itself.