A Viking story with that hand-drawn style of art, SOLD!
The Banner Saga is a real Cinderella story of the gaming world. Alex Thomas, Arnie Jorgensen and John Watson were developers at Bioware, but they left after finishing their work on the MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic to make a game that they wanted to play.
They posted their project of Kickstarter for funding where it earned $100,000 of funding after the first day. This funding blossomed to nearly one million dollars in the next few months with twenty thousand backers.
It is not hard to imagine why, the art is alluring and there is Vikings. VIKINGS! There has not been a good game in the Roleplaying genre that featured in Vikings since Valkyrie Profile.
While their project is well funded, the little studio they created called Stoic is not in some fancy building with glass windows for walls. In fact, their studio is in what people call a "goat shed". It is a small worn down building that is surrounding by worn down buildings.
Inside the small studio, the walls are slathered in concept art and Macs line the tables. Their shack is how a game studio should be. It really shows that they are all about the game and not how they are perceived.
You really know they are serious when they do not outsource their motion capture. That's right, the members of Stoic Studio go outside with their viking weapons and fight. That is how they do the motion capture for their upcoming game. Everybody dreams of working for a game studio and having fun like that, these grown boys are living the dream!
Anyway, Banner Saga is a turn-based RPG that has combat inspired by Final Fantasy Tactics and Shining Force. They also claim to be avoiding the overdone dwarves and orcs dynamic that is present in almost all RPGs. Oh, and no more dragons. So goodbye haters that think this was another Skyrim rip off, thanks for playing.
The developers are striving to make this game so authentic that they are even importing voice actors from Iceland. So expect all the characters to have that authentic scnadenavian accent. Apparently, some of the biggest financial backers for the game are from Scandinavia. Rumor has it that they are super excited for Banner Saga. This is not surprising considering Scandinavian countries are really proud of their history, since they were not responisble for any great cultural rapes or genocides.
The plot of Banner Saga is being kept under close wraps. What has been released is that the characters must battle their way through a world that has ended. The Gods are dead and the world is cold and lifeless. It is unclear whether all other people have died in this Ragnarök as well or if there will be more characters to be seen. It has been released that there is a fairly large cast of playable characters, as there usually is in turn based strategy games like Final Fantasy Tactics.
Honestly, Banner Saga does not need to explain its plot any more. The images of the game conveys that the game is going to be awesome no matter what.
The game is going to involve a travel element as well. The developers did not have the resources to make the epic sized world that they wanted to, so they added a travel element similar to Oregon Trail. No, I do not think your fellow Vikings will be dying of dysentery anytime soon, but the developers hinted that you will have to fulfill the needs of your people.
I hope this means hunting for food, because that was the best part of Oregon Trail.
While trying to keep your people alive, you are constantly running from some impending darkness and the game is going to change depending on when you get where you are going. I have some bad news for save-switchers in decision based games though. There is not going to be quick saves every few second so you can just reload and make a different decision.
You will have to live with whatever decision you make.
Even though the developers are from Bioware, the ending is going to be dramatically different depending on what choices you make. There will be no "red, green, blue" ending like there was with Mass Effect 3. That is good to hear. I hate decision based games where even if you play differently, it still ends up essentially the same. Maybe they should have let these three guys do the ending for Mass Effect 3, I bet they could have pleased a lot more fans than the whopping none that whomever made the current ending did.
Not only has the plot been kept closely under wraps, so has the release date. It has been slated for release in November 2012 since the idea was released in March.
Here we are in November 2012. No new news on the game. Stoic did release their 4th technical update on October 29th which showed a dramatic increase in lines of code. This means that they are done with design and on to putting it all together.
The story will be released in three separate chapters, though. Much like The Walking Dead. You will have to buy them separately, but the price tag will not be ridiculously expensive.
Though this summer there was a multiplayer component that was released on the PC and Mac for free and it was amazing! It really gave a solid taste of what the battle system is going to be like. Honestly, it's going to be a lot like Final Fantasy Tactics, but infinitely prettier.
Square Enix needs to go snatch up their artist and have them remake Final Fantasy Tactics. You know, give them noses and make them pretty.
So if you are looking to get a little taste while patiently waiting, that is a good alternative. Hopefully, this will come out before Christmas so it can be a present to myself.