The Banner Saga 3 is a tactical role-playing game. You control a unit of characters with their own backstories and personalities, leading them to the finale of saving the world, built up across the trilogy of Saga games.
Pro Your choices have true consequences throughout the story
The Banner Saga 3 has an involved story where your decisions matter in the long-run. You're part of a group of soldiers traveling to save the world from an encroaching darkness taking over the planet. There's a lot of in-fighting among those journeying to stop the darkness as well as the only remaining tribe of normal citizens living in fear for their lives every day. All of this fighting, and the journey, sets up a compelling story where you have to decide how the overarching battle unfolds, along with who lives and who dies. Certain choices you make can have some unintended consequences as well, so you always want to choose carefully before deciding.
It's an overall gripping finale to the Banner Saga trilogy, showing how war and the end of the world can affect people.
Pro You can carry over your save files from the first two Banner Saga games
There's a good incentive to play through the whole Banner Saga tale through carrying your save files over from the first and second games. Plenty of the choices you make in the previous games have an impact here in the third game, which lets you see how different decisions play out. Characters who survived across games also acknowledge how far they've come, with enough character development to keep them relevant for the most part. Getting to see how your choices affect the entire trilogy adds a lot of replay to all three games, giving you the chance to tweak certain outcomes here and there whenever you decide to go back and play the other games.
Pro Engaging turn-based tactical combat that plays in an isometric view
The Banner Saga 3 has a great combat system that's familiar to anyone who enjoys strategy RPGs. You have all of your units with the enemies on square grids, taking turns to attack, defend, and use special skills. The battles are tough enough to keep your attention, meaning you have to do your best to make the right decisions during each of your turns. And the stakes are pretty high, where deaths can result in permanently losing your party members, including missing out on any story bits that they're a part of. The isometric view keeps things classic and traditional as well, which is great for fans of the genre or players looking to get into this style of games for the first time.
Pro Beautiful hand-drawn art style
The game has such a gorgeous, effortless art style that really shines during cutscenes. Even though the graphics are cartoon-like, the characters and environments look mature and full of vibrant details. The supernatural elements are fantastical in the best of ways, going a long way to show off the seriousness of the darkness overtaking the world and how the remaining people cope with the looming threat on an emotional level. It's such a distinct style that drives home how unique it is to the Banner Saga and is immediately recognizable.
Con The story is short
Even though you get to carry over save files from the previous games, the story is incredibly short as a finale to the entire trilogy, lasting about ten hours or so. It's underwhelming to spend so little time piecing together all of the threads across the games. Going for a completionist run can take you about twenty hours, which is a bit better, but it's still disappointing that this third installment doesn't have more to offer.
Con Combat can get overwhelming at times
Much of the difficulty in combat revolves around the constant wave of enemies that come after your units, one after another. You have to pace yourself when deciding to take on these waves of foes, or else you may lose too many party members and have to pay a heavy price throughout the story. You can also choose to run away, but this also has negative plot-related consequences. It can get pretty frustrating having to deal with these waves so often, especially when you end up losing valuable party members by trying to push onward.
Con If a party member dies in battle, it's permanent
Permadeath in battle is the main way that combat stays tense and engaging, forcing you to make the best decisions at every opportunity. But this can get draining over time. When things spiral out of your control, you can end up losing a valued party member, who's then completely axed from the main story. Depending on how important they are, this may or may not be a big deal, but it's still a significant mechanic that you need to keep an eye on throughout the entire game.