The Banner Saga Playthrough Finale

Welcome to the sixth and final part of my playthrough of The Banner Saga! I know it’s extremely late, but I got distracted with my Sunless Skies Playthrough, which you can check out here.

If you haven’t watched my previous videos, I strongly suggest watching them before this one. You can find them here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five.

This video focuses on my (successful!) reattempt of the final battle, as well as the closing cutscenes. I even linger on the credits for a bit so you can listen to the fantastic soundtrack, if you want.

Thank you for watching my playthrough, please support the developers at Stoic Studios by purchasing their games and soundtracks.  The Banner Saga Trilogy is available on all major platforms (including smartphones) and is rated T for Teen.

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Sunless Skies: Reviewing 2019’s Most Deliciously Written Game

A murdered sun. A monument to the first rat in space. Smuggling souls, stories, and time itself. Your Inconvenient Aunt. These are but a few of the horrors and wonders you will encounter during your time in Sunless Skies’ haunted and hilarious universe.

It is the early 20th century, and imperialistic London has spread its reach to the heavens themselves. Spread between four separate biomes, your journey will be one of survival and discovery, as you captain your own locomotive through space. That’s right, locomotive. Your space ship is a train.

Your time in Sunless Skies will be split between a text-based RPG and top-down survival horror exploration. Both are quite good, but it’s Failbetter’s exquisite words that are the main attraction.

Failbetter Games is well-known for their signature writing style, both within and without of the gaming community. Both the mundane and the extraordinary are told through small snippets of flavor text, keeping you coming back for more. Specific and ephemeral, silly and chilling, it often stands in ironic contrast to itself. Some stories are more important than others, but all are entertaining and create a great sense of world-building. Characters don’t have exact names, rather they’re brief descriptions such as “The Incautious Driver”, “The Clay Conductor”, or “The Inadvisably Big Dog”. More often than not they serve to show off the writer’s talent at wordplay than anything else. Sunless Skies doesn’t have much of an overall story, though there are about a half-dozen endings so far (more to come in free updates and probably DLC someday) you can achieve if you want. But largely, the narrative shifts from story to story, occasionally overlapping or connecting. It gives the game a very dreamlike, and occasionally relaxing quality. You’re just a traveler, floating through the cosmos, stepping in and out of people’s lives…

…Except when your not. Space is full of dangerous foes, both human and not. As you chug along through the vast reaches of the heavens, you’ll encounter hostile ships, bugs, monsters, and beings that you’ll either have to kill or be killed by. This is done in real time and involves dodging around each other and getting in shots with your weapons to eventually wear down the enemies hull or health. It’s fairly simple, but allows for a lot of depth and strategy if you want. Unlike its predecessor, Sunless Sea, Sunless Skies now has multiple combat difficulty settings, tailoring the experience for the most casual or hardcore players. Either way, you will die at some point, but that’s all a part of the fun. A legacy system passes on some of your items, progress, and experience to a successor captain. Even this though, can be turned off, instead when you die you’ll reset to the last port you were at. I’d recommend even novice players stick with the default option though, its far less punishing than Sunless Sea was a helps build a sense of dread.

Speaking of dread, the Fear mechanic returns to Sunless Skies, with a few new modifications. Enemies aren’t your only, well, enemy in space. As you drift through cosmic horrors, you and your crew will gradually begin to build up fear. As your fear builds up, well, things begin to happen. Build your fear up enough and you will gain a semi-permanent nightmares point, which will cause more things to happen. Fear is actually pretty easy to manage and is not a threat on all but the longest of journies. Nightmares is a bit trickier, but there are some options to reduce them. Depending on where you are though, it may be a while until you reach one of said options. Normally you want to keep your fear as low as possible, but occasionally its fun to experiment by letting it build up. There are some pretty cool and terrifying story events that will come up, and the environment around you will begin to look and sound different as well.

Story and gameplay aren’t the only defining features of Sunless Skies, however. The art direction is also fantastic. As you explore outer space, you’ll notice the many-layered backdrop you fly against. Visual and audio cues add to the immersion. At ports, storylets and characters are illustrated with beautiful hand-drawn art. There’s never a dull scene, and some of the sights you’ll encounter are absolutely breathtaking. Sunless Skies is the kind of experience you can come away from and say “You wouldn’t believe the things I’ve seen”.

Sunless Skies is not a game for everyone, it is slow-paced, weird, and can be difficult at times, even on easier settings. However, if you want to talk with sentient mushrooms, smuggle barreled hours, or lose your mind, this may be the game for you.

Failbetter Games’ Sunless Skies costs $24.99 and is available from Steam, GOG, and Humble Bundle. Below I’ve included the Launch Trailer and my ongoing playthrough if you want to learn more.

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The Banner Saga Playthrough-Part Five

 

Hey everyone, and welcome to the penultimate chapter in my playthrough of the Banner Saga!

If you’re new to my playthrough but are interested in watching, I’d strongly recommend going back and watching Parts OneTwoThree and Four first.

In this episode, I play through most of Chapter 7, and promptly lose to the final boss because I’m very rusty at the game. Rook and friends are finally reunited, along with some new allies and potential foes. But they have little time for reunion, as Bellower is already here, and the final battle (at least for the first game!) is upon them.

Next time I will replay and (hopefully) beat the final battle, and watch the ending. Tissues recommended for the credits.

If you’ve enjoyed my playthrough so far continue to watch and please and support the developers at Stoic Studios by purchasing their games and soundtracks.  The Banner Saga Trilogy is available on all major platforms (including smartphones) and is rated T for Teen.

Enjoy my content?  Support me on Patreon!

The Banner Saga Playthrough-Part Four

Hey everyone, welcome back to my playthrough of The Banner Saga!  Today I’ll be playing Chapters Five and Six.

If you’re new to my playthrough but are interested in watching, I’d strongly recommend going back and watching Parts One, Two, and Three first.

Chapter Five is very short ( as in less than 10 minutes) and introduces a new, and very important, character in addition to expanding on the world’s mythology.  Chapter Six returns to a more traditional format and follows Rook’s journey, as well as how terrible I am at resource management.

If you’ve enjoyed my playthrough so far continue to watch and please and support the developers at Stoic Studios by purchasing their games and soundtracks.  The Banner Saga Trilogy is available on all major platforms (including smartphones) and is rated T for Teen.

Enjoy my content?  Support me on Patreon!

The Banner Saga Playthrough-Part Three

Greetings, to the several people who are watching my playthrough of The Banner Saga.  Last week I took a brief hiatus for Thanksgiving, and now we’ll jump right back into the action with Chapter Four.

If you’re new to my playthrough but are interested in watching, I’d strongly recommend going back and watching Part One and Part Two first.

Chapter Four returns to Rook and friends as they realize their newly found haven may not be as safe as they initially expected and follows them as they seek new shelter from the encroaching Dredge.

If you’ve enjoyed my playthrough so far continue to watch and please and support the developers at Stoic Studios by purchasing their games and soundtracks.  The Banner Saga Trilogy is available on all major platforms (including smartphones) and is rated T for Teen.

Enjoy my content?  Support me on Patreon!

The Banner Saga Playthrough-Part Two

Hey everyone, I’m back with the second part of my The Banner Saga playthrough.  Remember how I promised it would be shorter?  Well, it technically is, but only by like 10 minutes.  Apparently, Chapter Three was much longer than I remembered.

If you haven’t watched the first part you can watch it here.

Chapter Three focuses on Hakon’s party as they continue their journey in the wake of SPOILER’s death, and continue to face the unexpected threat of the Dredge.

If you miss my traditional blog posts, worry not, because next time I will be writing another of my in-depth theological examination.

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The Banner Saga Playthrough-Part One

Hey everybody, I know, I haven’t written a post of any kind in forever.  I have no good excuse for not doing any, so I’m not going to offer one, instead, I’ll just start creating new ones on a more regular basis.

In addition to normal blog posts, I’ve also started a no-commentary playthrough of the first Banner Saga Game.  This first part encompasses the first two chapters, future playthroughs will be one chapter at a time.

The Banner Saga is a Trilogy of Strategy RPG’s with a strong emphasis on mature storytelling and difficult decisions.  Gameplay is split between a tactical chess-like battle system and an adventure game-esque caravan simulator, reminiscent of the Oregan Trail.

The first Banner Saga game (aptly titled “The Banner Saga”) is a Low-Fantasy Nordic epic following two bands of refugees as they flee from a mysterious foe in a world were the sun itself has stopped in the sky only days ago.  Released in 2014, it received universal acclaim for its gorgeous art style (inspired by Eyvind Earle, the artist who created Disney’s Sleeping Beauty) and evocative score by Grammy-nominated composer Austin Wintory.  It went on to spawn an entire trilogy of games, where every choice you make has lasting consequences that carry into the next entry.

Interested?  I hope so.  Below I’ve embedded the first part of my playthrough, on YouTube.  It clocks in around 1:42 hours, further entries will be shorter.  It’s available to watch up to 1080p60, though is available at lower resolutions if that’s all your device can output.  If you enjoy the first two chapters please continue to watch my playthrough (new parts released every few days) and support the developers at Stoic Studios by purchasing their games and soundtracks.  The Banner Saga Trilogy is available on all major platforms (including smartphones) and is rated T for Teen.

 

Enjoy my content?  Support me on Patreon!

Hey Game Developers: Make Your Video Game Trailers like This If You Want Me to Buy Them

Hey everyone, this week I’m going to share with you a few of my favorite video game trailers and discuss why I love them.  Two AP English classes have made me fairly critical, and unfortunately/fortunately I overanalyze stuff now, which in fairness works with this post.

Before I get started, I’m going to briefly touch upon what types of games I like.  The first thing I look for in a game is a great story and characters, and it’s pretty rare for me to play/enjoy a game that doesn’t at least have some effort put into the writing and story.  The second thing I look for, or rather listen for (pun totally intended), is a good soundtrack.  If I’m going to be spending a decent chunk of time playing something, I want there to be a memorable score (or in some cases curated actual music) that is emotionally evocative and fits well with the purpose of a scene.  This explains why many of my favorite games have larger soundtracks, with each scene having at least a unique arranged BGM (background music).   After music, I look for graphics/gameplay.  A key part of a good video game is immersion, and clunky gameplay and graphics can easily get in the way of this.  I don’t care if the graphics are photorealistic, but I do want them to have effort put into them and fit the tone of the game.  Lastly, I look for replay value.  I don’t usually replay games, and I don’t really actively look for this in a game.  However, in the rare case when I do find a game with good replay value, that’s always a plus.  More bang for my buck.

Having discussed that, there is a difference between a good game and a good game trailer.  They’re two completely different art forms.  Video game trailers used to be an afterthought thrown together at the end of a game’s development cycle.  Now whole studios exist just for the sake of creating trailers, and trailers can sometimes make or break a game.  So here, in no particular order, are a few of my favorite video game trailers:

  • Banner Saga (Launch Trailer)

A fine example of a cinematic trailer that showcases some of the game’s best moments without spoiling the plot.  Set to an evocative track (That unfortunately never made it into the final game.  At least the final OST is still fantastic) this trailer excellently portrays the dramatic contrast between bleak and beautiful that is the Banner Saga.

  • This War of Mine (Teaser Trailer)

The teaser trailer for This War of Mine does an excellent job of setting up your expectations and then dashing them.  Sure, it’s a “war game” but definitely not in the traditional sense.   While it’s absent in the beginning the end of the trailer does a nice job of showing off the pencil-sketch aesthetic of the games.  Also, the trailer is set to the beginning of Gyöngyhajú Lány, an iconic Eastern European Prog-Rock song, which conveys a sense of “iconic-ness” to aware audiences.

  • Tropico 6 (Announcement Trailer):

While this game may not be out yet, Tropico 6’s announcement trailer gives us a pretty good idea of what to expect without showing any actual gameplay footage.  More of the absurdist, satirical Dictator-Simulator gameplay and story, all the while subtly teasing new features.  It even manages to take a few subtle jabs at the current political clime, cementing it as “relevant” (of course who knows if they’ll be relevant when the game comes out, development cycles are rife with delays these days).

  • The Pillars of the Earth (Launch Trailer)

Several times this launch trailer reminds you of it’s narrative-based and novel-derived gameplay.  And while it could be argued that adventure games like this are basically interactive cutscenes, remarkably this entire trailer consists solely of actual gameplay footage (all of which looks great).

  • Telltale’s Walking Dead: The Final Season (General Trailer)

By not focusing on zombies, and rather on people, Telltale reminds the audience of what their series is all about.  It does an excellent job of making an ordinarily mundane nursery rhyme into something unnerving.  It also hints at the unsettling differences between our world’s childhood and that of the apocalypses’.   And finally, it ends with a “throwback” image, which immediately feels familiar to series fans, and frankly, anyone who’s ever been on the internet, raising hopes that it will be a return to form after the (mostly) terrible third season.

  • Sunless Skies (Early Access Trailer #2)

Fast-paced and filled with rapid-fire images, the Albion Region trailer for Sunless Skies shows off the games ability to balance the absurd and serious.

  • Final Fantasy XV (PS4 Trailer)

This trailer may have too much going on, but that’s exactly what makes it great.  Final Fantasy XV is a big game that mashes together a traditional fantasy world with realism.  The PS4 trailer does a good job of showing off the gameplay, story, major characters, and stunning graphics of the game.

  • Banner Saga 3 (Music Preview)

What, I’m not allowed to do the same series twice?  I can’t help if Stoic is really good at making trailers!  I love how this trailer focuses on the music of the game, all while managing to sneak a few fleeting glimpses of new footage in at the same time.

 

That’s all I have for this post!  Thanks for taking the time to read (and watch), make sure to link to or name your favorite game trailer in the comments!

 

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