The very Banner Saga-ish Ash of Gods launches March

Ash of Gods

Sometimes it feels rude to reference a game’s influences in a headline like this, but it’s hard to talk about AurumDust’s debut RPG, Ash of Gods without drawing some comparisons to Stoic’s continuing pseudo-Viking saga, especially in terms of art style and combat engine.

Originally funded through Kickstarter, Ash of Gods seems to have made good on its early crowdfunding promises, up to and including a March release date, and the small Russian studio have released a dramatic story-focused trailer reconfirming their launch plans.

Set in a slightly more traditional dark fantasy world than Banner Saga, you’ll apparently be playing as a trio of protagonists – a retired town guard-captain, a healer and an assassin – each with their own parties and crossing plot threads. Similar to its inspirations, there’ll be a heavy focus on decision making as you lead the three protagonists and their respective parties through their respective story arcs.

One interesting note is that the plot is designed to continue even if the protagonists manage to get themselves killed through decisions, although this will presumably lead to a somewhat less-than-happy conclusion to the story.

Unlike The Banner Saga, the combat engine seeks to differentiate itself somewhat through a tried-and-tested alternate route by making combat partially card-based, with each turn’s possible actions being defined by the hand you’ve been dealt. There’s also no dice-rolling, so all attacks will hit and do a fixed amount of damage, reducing the amount of chaos and guess-work involved in basic movement and engagement.

As easy as it would be to dismiss the efforts of this game, given its visual similarities to The Banner Saga, I feel the studio should be applauded for even coming close to matching the style and visual clarity. Combat animations in particular are very smooth and natural, although that’s in part due to rotoscoping – drawing animation frames directly over live-action footage. Motion capture for the cel-animation generation.

It’ll be interesting to see exactly how Ash of Gods sets itself apart from The Banner Saga, and whether its writing can survive the oft-treacherous journey from Russian to English. We’ll hopefully be digging deeper into this one closer to its release next month.

21 Comments

  1. GernauMorat says:

    That doesn’t look similar too or inspired by the Banner Saga; it looks identical to it. That combat screenshot is indistinguishable from Banner Saga combat.

    • GernauMorat says:

      In fact, in the trailer you can actually recognise poses of certain characters – and that big rock with a town is awfully familiar as well. All IMO of course.

      • dawnmane says:

        I agree. This has to end in a lawsuit at some point or nothing makes sense.

        • baud001 says:

          Or maybe Versus Evil (Banner Saga’s dev) don’t want to spent their time dealing with a lawsuit, look like dicks or take a risk with their money on a small payoff. Banner Saga has been victim of spurious lawsuit before (vs King because of Candy Crush saga), they might not want to do it to another company. There’s not much to do a lawsuit on, if the genre is not patented and no asset are stolen.

          I mean, imitation (in art) is a form of flattery.

          And another game like the Banner saga might make their market share smaller in the Banner Saga-like niche, but if the pie’s growing, it can advantage them.

    • jawbone78 says:

      My sentiment exactly. Until I see an endorsement from Stoic, I can’t even consider supporting this thing..

      • Holderist says:

        Stoic backed Ash of Gods on Kickstarter (I know this because I follow them on Kickstarter, and that’s how I found out about this game). Take that as you will.

    • UncleLou says:

      This game does not seem to have an ounce of originality – the battlefield, the entire art style, the side-scrolling landscape view, it’s all identical.

      Backed by Stoic or not, I don’t like copycats. I’ll pass.

  2. seraphsword says:

    Well, not sure when they got it, but one of the pull quotes on their Kickstarter is from one of the Banner Saga guys. So it may be that they don’t mind.

  3. Rane2k says:

    The art style looks VERY close to Banner Saga indeed. If you showed me the screenshot without any context I would have thought “Yep, thats The Banner Saga”.

    What irked me in their kickstarter pitch video was the comments about randomness tough. They say they “rejected randomness and replaced it with cards”. Generally speaking, without any additional information that is wrong.

    Drawing from a deck of cards is simply another kind of randomness, as having or not having a certain card, for example the instant-heal they mention, also dictates the options you have available. And if the only option you want is “instant-heal”, but you do not get the card by chance… randomness.

    Mind you, I am not arguing against randomness, I think a bit of randomness can spice up games and make for interesting decisions. I am saying that their kickstarter pitch is either unclear (do you have all the cards and there is no deck?) or flat out wrong.

  4. duns4t says:

    If it was just a couple of very close similarities to Banner Saga that would be one thing… this really looks like a clone. Leaves a bad taste in my mouth, as much as I appreciate the aesthetic that Banner Saga presents. Without an endorsement from the Banner Saga people I will be avoiding this (and awaiting Banner Saga 3!)

    • Premium User Badge

      Aerothorn says:

      See the comments above – Stoic is a backer, amongst other things.

      Not that playing this and playing Banner Saga 3 are mutually exclusive :)

  5. Barts says:

    It is using Stoic’s engine, which can be licensed. I suppose some assets got licensed too. Stoic backed in on Kickstarter. Can we now stop worrying about hypothetical infringements and focus on the game?…

    • Ghostwise says:

      And forego petty, made-up DRAMA ?! Let’s be realistic here.

    • Captain Narol says:

      Barts is right, obviously this has been made with Stoic’s support.

      Game may not be as great as Banner Saga, but at least give it a chance and don’t push it apart for false reasons.

  6. mitthrawnuruodo says:

    Was very interested, until I saw “rogue-like”.

  7. somnolentsurfer says:

    Isn’t it awful how Icewind Dale looks so much like Baldur’s Gate? Black Isle should be sued out of existence, like the terrible plagiarists they are.

    • Viral Frog says:

      Yeah, how dare the exact same studio make two games that look similar to one another!

      • N'Al says:

        Ignoring the fact that your sarcasm detector is clearly broken, Icewind Dale and Baldur’s Gate were NOT made by the same studio (although they did support each other significantly throughout development, I believe.)

  8. Viral Frog says:

    I have absolutely no interest in this game. I think you can see why from the screenshots.

    It’s one thing for a dev to take heavy inspiration from another game by another studio. But this? This is a complete rip off. Sure, I see that article in the comments where one of the dev’s from Stoic is giving them words of encouragement, but… really? It’s a direct rip. There is 0 originality here. If I was anyone at Stoic, I’d be furious.

    I will never spend a penny on a product from AurumDust because of this.

  9. DanMan says:

    Linux version coming, too.