Review: The Banner Saga 2 (Switch)

As far as stories go, the middles are always underrated.

In the beginning you have intrigue, characterization and a set-up. In the end you have development, resolution and closure. The middle is the most important part of any story, even though it doesn’t get the props it deserves. Sure, it’s a bridge between question and answer, but it gives any good story the context it needs to be a worthwhile experience.

The Banner Saga 2 is the middle piece to a larger tale of eking out an existence in a world that is becoming ever more inhospitable. As should be of no surprise to anybody, the story for The Banner Saga 2 picks up where the first left off, with decisions and ramifications carrying over. For those who chose to skip (and I’m not sure why you would) the first chapter, there is a recap to get you up to speed and a fresh party for you to, ah, start your journey with.

I’d like to gloss over most of the plot in general because I feel like it’s in your best interest to shape your own story. I will generalize a few things though. Firstly, the different and shifting perspectives are interesting and do a good job of waylaying your expectations as you change perspectives. There are new addendums such as different classes, enemies and controllable party members that help enlarge the world as a whole.

Speaking of which, the grid and turn based combat system got a great shot in the arm from the aforementioned classes, enemies and controllable party members, as they add curious new elements and win conditions to the table. Whereas in the first game I felt like battles were a means to an end in pushing the plot along, here they feel more natural to the flow of things. This helped me feel even more invested in the journey than I already was because the battles and plot felt one and the same.

Unlike the other facets of The Banner Saga 2, those moments where you take your caravan across beautiful 2D vistas feel unchanged from the first game. I enjoy these sections for how striking to the eye they are, for the feeling that you are in fact the leader of a ragtag group of survivors, and for giving you a moment of respite in between tense battles and heart wrenching story arcs. It’s that quiet moment that acclimates you to the disparate folk you are leading and gives weight to the choices you make.

It’s worth ending on the fact that even though The Banner Saga 2 is basically a lead-up to the forthcoming third game, it does move the series forward in presentation, expands upon its battle system and gives you plenty of reason to play through the heart and soul of this story.

The Banner Saga 2 is available for Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Mac, iOS and Android. We reviewed the Switch version.

Disclosure statement: Review code for The Banner Saga 2 was provided by Plan of Attack. A Most Agreeable Pastime operates as an independent site, and all opinions expressed are those of the author.