The Banner Saga 2

Game review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
The Banner Saga 2 Game Poster Image
Rich, violent role-playing tale addresses serious themes.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Players determine level of positivity through their actions, choices. Themes cover racial prejudice, effects of war, grieving process.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Heroes lean toward good, but players can force them to make selfish, cruel decisions.

Ease of Play

Relatively simple turn-based combat system; tutorials imperfectly teach more complex concepts.

Violence

Combat central to game. Characters can be hurt but not killed in combat, but story sequences show (non-graphic) dead bodies, funeral rites.

Sex

Flirtation between characters; verbal comments suggest some have spent night together.

Language

Curses consist of "piss," "asses."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mention of drinking mead. Two characters often drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Banner Saga 2 is a downloadable action role-playing game based on Norse mythology. In it, players lead a desperate band of survivors away from a growing darkness and an encroaching horde. They encounter all manner of hardships and must make decisions that mean the difference between life and death. Serious themes are addressed including racial prejudice, the effects of war, and the process of grieving. Though violence is cartoonish, and characters can be injured (but not killed), some cut scenes show bodies and funeral rites. Some characters flirt with each other, and dialogue suggests that they've spent a night together, but nothing is shown. Some dialogue also mentions "piss" and "asses" for language, while some characters appear drunk and talk about drinking mead. Turn-based controls are simple to understand, but the game doesn't explain some of the more complex concepts very well, leading to frustration.

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What's it about?

THE BANNER SAGA 2 continues where the first Banner Saga left off: following a band of refugees as they flee an enveloping darkness. Players who played the first game can import the decisions they made into the second or start from scratch with one of two familiar heroes. Many characters return, and a host of new ones appear, including a new centaur race called the Horseborn. Tension runs high as you're asked to look after hundreds of men, women, and children, fight enemies in turn-based combat, and make life-or-death decisions.

Is it any good?

This well-crafted sequel presents a high-tension, action-packed story that will keep your heart racing from beginning to end. Whether you import decisions from the first game or start fresh with one of the two playable heroes, you're in for hours of fun turn-based combat and nail-bitingly tough decisions that affect your characters in profound ways. The combat system is fairly easy to learn, and optional training sequences provide plenty of opportunity to master skills and gain the renown needed to level up characters. Characters all have useful, interesting combat skills that work well in conjunction with one another, and, even better, they all have distinct personalities. It's easy to get attached to your favorites, which makes the perilous events of the game all the scarier to endure. Along with addressing the notion of good versus evil, the story taps into more complex issues such as racial prejudice, processing the death of a loved one, and the need for different peoples to come together when faced with a common threat. The graphics and music are unbelievably gorgeous. The only flaws in this otherwise fabulous role-playing adventure are the occasionally confusing (possibly buggy) tutorials and the painful cliffhanger ending.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about bigotry. Why are some people afraid of people who are different from themselves?

  • Discuss grief. Have you ever lost a family member? How did it make you feel?

  • Think about what war does to families. What would your family do if your home was destroyed?

Game details

  • Platforms: Mac, Windows
  • Price: $19.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid (Deluxe Edition also available for $24.99 and bundle that includes the first Banner Saga game available for $39.72.)
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Versus Evil
  • Release date: April 19, 2016
  • Genre: Role Playing
  • Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures
  • ESRB rating: NR for No Descriptions

Themes & Topics

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