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You Should Play: The Banner Saga delivers epic role-playing in a bleak-but-beautiful fantasy world

Andrew Hayward | Dec. 8, 2014
Recent Mac favorite from ex-BioWare vets makes the leap to iPad and iPhone for engrossing on-the-go action.

The Banner Saga

These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.

It's the end of the world as the fantasy inhabitants of The Banner Saga know it, and to be quite honest, they're not feeling so great. The sun suddenly stopped moving in the sky, the terrifying and towering humanoid Dredge beings have begun appearing more rapidly, and everything by and large has fallen into disarray. 

To save your people--and ultimately, perhaps, the human race--you lead a caravan from city to city, managing your resources, engaging in turn-based tactical battles, and making tough calls that could well affect the fate of your comrades. This is your task in the debut game from Stoic Studio, a small team founded by former lead developers on BioWare's massively multiplayer epic, Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Breaking from the corporate world of massive teams and multi-million-dollar budgets, Stoic set out to create a strategic role-playing experience on a smaller scale, albeit without sacrificing narrative and gameplay depth or striking presentation. After raising more than 700-percent of its goal on Kickstarter, the team launched The Banner Saga on Mac and PC earlier this year to strong reviews, and now the full experience is available on iPhone and iPad.

Compared to the average App Store game, The Banner Saga's $10 asking price is ambitious--even if it's half the price of the computer version. But this long-lasting and solidly replayable adventure provides more than enough richness and value to justify its premium entry fee. Not totally convinced? Here are three reasons why The Banner Saga is one of the top RPGs available for iOS today.

It's your call: The Banner Saga frequently empowers you to make decisions about almost everything, from the makeup of your ever-changing caravan to the tactics you take in battle. However, it'll make you pay for your slip-ups and deal with the consequences of any tough judgment calls. Even dialogue selections feed into how the storyline twists and turns on the road ahead, and you'll need to mind your moral compass while also considering what's best for your allies and continued survival. 

Not every choice seems significant, such as deciding how best to deal with a rambunctious drunk who keeps causing trouble, but your reactions affect how the others see you and can test their allegiance to your crew. Choose wisely, even when it comes to seemingly mundane quandaries.


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