Stoic Games

The Banner Saga review

Chris Schilling at

No good deed goes unpunished in this crowdfunded passion project from a trio of ex-BioWare devs. The Banner Saga is a Kickstarter game that takes the first part of the word all too literally, repeatedly laying the boot in while you're at your most vulnerable. It may ostensibly be a turn-based strategy game with light RPG elements and some Walking Dead-esque moral dilemmas, but in your slow march across an inhospitable landscape, it most often resembles The Oregon Trail. Progress is arduous, supplies are continually dwindling, and members of your caravan repeatedly cark it. The main difference between the two is that here you're more likely to contract pneumonia than dysentery.

The harsh conditions it enforces are a perfect fit for this world. Stoic's semi-fantastical Norse setting is beautiful, but by golly is it bleak. "The gods are dead" are the first words you'll see as the story kicks off, and it only gets worse for your band of bedraggled heroes. The sun has gone, leaving the world in a perpetual half-light, while just about everywhere you travel is covered in a thick blanket of snow. Meanwhile, a race of armoured enemies called The Dredge are massacring anyone and everyone, forcing you to hurriedly abandon each settlement you find. People here aren't living, but surviving - and barely.


The Banner Saga developers respond to King's opposition of their trademark

Phil Savage at

Previously, on Banner Saga vs Candy Crush Saga: The Saga: Social gaming company King, the makers of Candy Crush Saga, apply to trademark the word "Candy". Indie RPG makers Stoic attempt to trademark The Banner Saga, because that is the name of their game. King file an opposition notice against Stoic's application because, despite not owning a trademark on the word saga, they own a lot of trademarks for names that contain the word saga. Jack Bauer has only fifteen minutes to save the Chinese delegation from CTU's latest mole, but Chloe is being sarcastic at a printer. King admit that they "do not have any concerns that Banner Saga is trying build on our brand or our content". An inoffensive comedian in a pale blue shirt mugs at the camera, saying "trademarks, eh?" while a sad trombone plays in the background.

And now, in the shocking mid-season finale, Stoic respond to King's actions, telling Polygon, "We won't make a viking saga without the word Saga, and we don't appreciate anyone telling us we can't."


The Banner Saga's launch trailer heralds the arrival of the tactical-RPG

Phil Savage at

Stoic Games have reached the end of a long and arduous journey; one that required the help of an army of crowdfunders, and contained a short intermission for some free-to-play battling. To celebrate the end of their adventure, here's a celebratory trailer. To be clear: their adventure is in the more metaphorical sense of the development and release of tactical-RPG The Banner Saga. As far as I know, they have not personally carried some giant axes through a harsh and mythical wilderness.