The Banner Saga Reveals First Combat Shot

Click on it, fo'

I’m not sure I should be encouraging this recent habit of indies releasing a single screenshot of their in-development games. When major publishers do that we roll our eyes and shout things like, “THEY’RE ADVERTS FOR YOUR GAMES, YOU IDIOTS – JUST RELEASE DOZENS OF THEM.” Of course, Brian Fargo, and now Stoic are both showing the very first in-game image of a project they recently Kickstarted, likely putting them out before they themselves are ready – there’s a sense of obligation to share things much sooner when you’re funded by a few thousand strangers who want to play the game. And in this first picture of The Banner Saga in action (if you don’t count this one), we can literally see it in action.

The image is from the game’s tutorial, hence the teeny tiny battlefield, but gives an idea of the classic turn-based combat grid. The game’s peculiar release will have a combat-only version being released as free-to-play, with a fully fledged RPG version coming some time later, for actual monies.

Artist Arnie Jorgensen explains the complexities of the “parallaxing” in a blog post that gives lots of details about the motivations behind the look, and the process by which he creates it. For instance:

“Since we control which layers are actually parallaxing (moving against each other) we can bake in lighting and shadows and basically whatever else is possible in Photoshop. Our engine doesn’t add lighting to a scene, we have to paint it all by hand…waahhhh….wa-wait what? That’s awesome! We can make our game look exactly how we want, there are no restrictions on the mood of The Banner Saga. We’ll soon be applying tech that automatically breaks up and re-compiles large, full screen images like this to account for technical limitations on low-end computers and tablets.”

You can keep track of images of the game in this thread.


  1. Drake Sigar says:

    They’re at the Game of Throne’s Red Wedding? Or there was an argument over who should take the ring to Mordor?

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Vikings doing viking things… it’s probably just afternoon tea

    • Smashbox says:

      “You think you’re strong enough to do [QUEST] for me? I have my doubts. Do [TUTORIAL ACTIONS] to prove to me that you know how to [CONTROL THIS GAME], for I am the King!”

      Also, the foreground stuff is really cool. Great ideas on the art for this game.

    • Network Crayon says:

      Defend the Dessert Trolley for 15 turns.

  2. Smashbox says:

    Very exciting! Mooks need a little more love though.

  3. AmateurScience says:

    This looks delightful.

  4. Jimbo says:

    Look at how far out of scale those walls are! Fuck this game.

  5. lordcooper says:

    Hel yes, this is looking pretty Friggin awesome.

  6. RogerioFM says:

    It’s only one, but a picture as beatiful as this is worth more than a dozen some other games pictures.

  7. zeroskill says:

    Looks delicious.

  8. neolith says:

    The look reminds a bit of ‘Heimdall’ back in the days of the Amiga500…

  9. RogerioFM says:

    Also there is a bear without an arm on the back.

    • RogerioFM says:

      And there are 2 images actually, not sure the other one is old though.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        the snow battle picture is the one they had when they started their Kickstarter (and appears in animated form in their kickstarter video)

  10. Shazbut says:

    I know absolutely nothing about this game, but that is one great screenshot and it’s got me interested. I’m going to pretend it’s what the new Chris Avellone game would look like, should it exist.

  11. mckertis says:

    ” from the game’s tutorial, hence the teeny tiny battlefield”


  12. sokkur says:

    I must say that it looks very nice, kinda reminds me of the halfling homes in Overlord.

  13. maicus says:

    Watching from the rafters, like some kind of viking fight-pervert

  14. wodin says:

    I gave them $120,000 and this is what it looks like…how dare they…

    Looks cool. Very Bayuex (probably spelled that wrong) tapestry

    • Syra says:

      That’s okay, back in school when I was 11 and had no idea what they were talking about, in my homework I spelled it the Bio tapestry like it was painted with the viscera of king harold himself.

  15. InternetBatman says:

    Doesn’t creating content like that affect how it scales to various resolutions?

  16. Stoic-Arnie says:

    Thanks for the great comments everyone! This game has been a dream to work on and we love sharing stuff with you all. We’re currently heads down and working towards our Alpha build by the end of next week, so things are moving quickly. We hope to have the free-to-play combat game, The Banner Saga: Factions, out by fall of this year. The cinematics for the release are well under way and the animations are almost all complete, both done by PowerHouse Animation. Austin Wintory (amazing composer of the game ‘Journey’) has already written a first pass of the main theme (which I’d love to share as soon as I can) and he begins the full score this week.
    This image is a bit misleading as the top half is part of a cinematic pan down, the full height of this screen will not be visible during gameplay. You may pan to the left and right as you do combat though so all our screens are rather wide.
    @internetBatman: We’re designing all the scenes at 2731×1536 to account for Retina Displays which are 2048×1536, but we want to support a wide screen mode as well. We will then be taking the textures down for smaller resolutions. The animated characters are all done as vectors so there will be no change in their line weights. The environments are all painted so reducing the textures only serves to tighten them if anything.
    As a side note, Rock, Paper Shotgun is one of our favorite sites.