The well-regarded tactical series comes to Switch, perfect for late-night narrative sessions.
When The Banner Saga originally launched in 2014, all I heard was wild praise about this story-driven tactical RPG. It was always a game that remained on the back of my mind, waiting for a chance to check it out. Time made a fool of me as now the third entry in the series is due out this summer and it’s been four years and I’ve never touched the series. Now, as the trilogy-ending conclusion is months away from its launch, developer Stoic Studio is bringing the first two games to Switch.
For the uninformed, of which I am very much a part of, The Banner Saga is seemingly more like a visual novel than a strategy game. The driving force where all your decisions are made is a story with fantastic art and great animated cutscenes. Your characters can die, but unlike in Fire Emblem games, their deaths aren’t in battle. Deaths happen because of your narrative decisions that help shape your party’s path. You can fail battles and have it play into the story, potentially making it so a false narrative move could end weakened heroes, but permadeath in battles isn’t the way forward here. It’s something that separates it more from the Nintendo staple.
The developers have a fondness for Final Fantasy Tactics and Shining Force that shines through the game, so if those RPGs are your jam, The Banner Saga should feel familiar. In my brief time with the game, I wasn’t able to get a full feel for the combat, but at its base, it’s a sturdy turn-based system. My taste of the first two games left me wanting to explore this world more, with its Austin Wintory soundtrack, deep narrative, and hand-drawn animation.
The good news is that The Banner Saga 1 and 2 are coming to Switch very soon. Stoic wasn’t willing to confirm any specific time frames, but it seems like they’re going through the submission process with Nintendo right now. If it goes smoothly, the first game could be out in a matter of weeks with the sequel a short time after. Unfortunately, The Banner Saga 3, which is due out this summer, might not hit Switch at the same time it does other platforms. The hope is for a simultaneous release, but it all depends on how the final stretch of development goes.
We’ll have more coverage of The Banner Saga when it gets close to release on Switch, but if the hype is real, this might be a fantastic game to sink your teeth into while you wait for Fire Emblem on Switch, even more so if you’re down for something a lot more focused on story.