Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden – Wild West Ghostbusters in Don’t Nod’s Masterpiece

REVIEW – It appears the Don’t Nod team has truly outdone themselves this time: they’ve dreamed big, and that dream has splendidly come to life. Their latest adventure not only crashes onto the scene with a bang but also stretches the boundaries of the narrative-driven action RPG genre. Meanwhile, our protagonists – essentially the ghostbusters of the wild west – are not only taking on otherworldly monsters but are also battling their inner demons within a story that’s deeper and more personal than anything we’ve seen before.

 

Don’t Nod is indeed experiencing a vibrant period, currently working on projects that might seem less prominent at first glance than Life Is Strange, yet they’re making bold leaps into the realm of action games with titles like Vampyr and Remember Me. It’s been six years since Vampyr hit the shelves, and although I saw its potential, it somehow didn’t resonate with me as much as I had hoped. Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden seems to weave the thread that Don’t Nod started with Vampyr, pleasantly surprising us in many aspects.

 

A kiadó a Focus Entertainment lesz, és ők valamikor 2023-ban fogják kiadni a Banishers: Ghosts of New Edent PlayStation 5-re, Xbox Seriesre, illetve PC-re (Steam).

 

“Two souls with but a single thought, Two hearts that beat as one.” (Friedrich Halm)

 

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden takes us back to the late 17th century, where we control a duo of ghost hunters, Red and Antea. Antea is not just Red’s mentor but also his passionate lover. In the game’s opening mission, Antea suffers a fatal wound from a surprise attack by a particularly formidable nightmare they were chasing. Now, as a spirit, Antea’s task is to help Red defeat the evil that took her life. The story, however, is much more nuanced than that, often involving morally questionable methods to potentially bring Antea back from the dead, but not without consequences.

Tough choices play a crucial role in Don’t Nod’s games, and Banishers is no exception. Right from the start, Red must make a pledge to Antea about whether he will move her spirit on or make sacrifices for her return. This fundamental dilemma can cause quite the conundrum for many players, especially considering the well-crafted relationship between Red and Antea. Their adorable banter, significant character development, and the strong bond between them bring them incredibly close to the player.

It’s precisely this deep connection that makes the choices in Banishers so challenging. At every investigation, you must decide how to bring closure for those involved, offering the spirits a peaceful or violent departure. Other choices allow for sacrifices to bring Antea one step closer to you again. However, the situation is never black and white. Despite my commitment to Antea’s oath, certain morally ambiguous decisions weighed heavily on me throughout the adventure.

These decisions not only have significant impacts on the story’s outcome but also on the smaller details within the game world. Settlers might bitterly or sarcastically comment on a choice you made in a previous mission or even hike their prices if you’ve killed someone they were friends with. This effect is subtle and consistent, far removed from the forced black-and-white decision mechanics seen in many games.

While choices and narrative are vitally important to the gaming experience, it’s particularly noteworthy how enjoyable Banishers’ gameplay is. If you’ve played Vampyr, you’ll recognize this game as its spiritual successor in many ways. However, Banishers sets larger and bolder ambitions than Vampyr ever did and surpasses it in every aspect. Essentially an open-world adventure, Banishers has you traversing through haunted America, solving various spectral cases as you travel between settlements. The game feels like a road movie in many respects. Except, the periods between major events are just as captivating as the conflicts encountered during the main quests.

 

"A stúdió történetének egyik legambiciózusabb projektje" - a Life is Strange és a Vampyr szerzői mindent beleadnak a Banishers: Ghosts of New Edenbe.

 

A ghost-ridden Wild West like no other

 

This is because the Banishers’ early Wild West world is meticulously crafted and a joy to explore. Every crossroad seems designed to mislead you – I’ve more than once accidentally found myself back in a settlement I had just left. Along the way, I encountered numerous tasks that, upon completion, made traversing the region faster. This might just be the greatest compliment I can offer Banishers – there are fast travel options, but the world is so engaging and inviting that I seldom feel the need to use them. It’s like playing a rich, old-style Metroid game, a blend of era and game design I didn’t know was missing from my life until now.

When you’re not investigating, you’re fighting. Switching between Red and Antea, you can unleash tremendous damage with combos. Red attacks with his sword and rifle, while Antea brings supernatural punches and abilities into play. The combat system essentially rewards the proper synergy between Red and Antea – freezing an opponent with Antea and finishing them off with Red, for example, inflicts massive damage. Every ability and option contributes to a combat system that flows smoothly.

The combat is further enhanced by a skill tree, offering great flexibility in your approach. Each skill or perk provides better synergy between Red and Antea. Red might, for instance, generate more energy for Antea to use with his rifle. Once unlocked, each point on the skill tree can be swapped for another, allowing you to tweak your build as you go. This flexibility doesn’t feel as cheap as a full respec, and once again, deals with choices in a meaningful way, unlike skill trees in some other games that end up being filled out regardless.

 

 

Witcher 3-caliber side quests and an unforgettable main story

 

Optional content is divided between activities and haunting cases. Activities are fairly typical open-world fare – fighting off a wave of enemies, finding treasure, or removing curses from treasure chests. But the haunting cases truly stand out. These are smaller, dense stories focusing on the lives of settlers at each settlement. Each is well-written and nuanced, often presenting difficult choices at the end. They don’t feel like side quests but are as compelling as the main quests.

How deep you dive into these stories is up to you. The main story path can be completed by most players in 20-30 hours, but you can easily double that if you take your time and explore everything New Eden has to offer. Personally, I spent 74 hours with the game, completing every side quest before finishing the story. It’s worth noting that this isn’t a case of quantity over quality – the variety of objectives and cases keeps things fresh. This world isn’t as vast as typical Ubisoft open-world games or those like Spider-Man or Horizon. Instead, it’s a smaller, denser world waiting to be explored.

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden’s visual presentation is also stunning. The artistic direction is confident, and the performance is rock-solid. The richness of visual details and the craftsmanship in ambient sounds contribute to making New Eden’s world a grim, yet lifelike place to inhabit.

But nothing in the world of Banishers grabs your attention quite like the game’s dark, ambient original score. The music, soaked in ominous and gloomy tones, perfectly sets the melancholic mood for your adventure in a world slowly succumbing to a ghostly curse, while also painfully reminding you that Antea is gone, and you might not bring her back.

 

 

A deeply human ghost-hunting story

 

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden invites players on a magnificent journey into a world where dark pasts and personal tragedies mix with a glimmer of hope and the possibility of redemption. The game’s immersive storytelling, profound character development, and the constant presence of consequential decisions offer a unique experience that will linger in players’ memories for a long time. Performances by Russ Bain and Amaka Okafor, along with the emotionally charged interactions between characters, deepen this experience even further, reminding us of the powerful ways video games can tell the most human of stories.

Banishers is more than just another title in Don’t Nod’s repertoire; it is a landmark that redefines what it means to truly immerse oneself in a story and its world. The depth with which the game touches players’ hearts proves that video games, as a medium, can convey emotions and thoughts that might not reach us in any other form. Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is not just a game; it’s a memorable adventure that stays with us long after we’ve turned off the console.

-Gergely Herpai (BadSector)-

Pros:

+ A modest yet dense open world to explore
+ Great story with interesting side quests
+ Fluid and fun combat system

Cons:

– Over time, combat can become a little too repetitive and easy
– Poorly optimized difficulty level in some places: sometimes too easy, sometimes too hard
– The menu system and map on PS5 sometimes freeze


Publisher: Focus Home Interactive

Developer: Don’t Nod

Style: action-RPG, adventure

Release: February 12, 2024.

 

 

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden

Gameplay - 9.4
Graphics - 9.1
Story - 9.4
Music/Audio - 9.6
Ambience - 9.6

9.4

AWESOME

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden truly opens new dimensions beyond anything Don’t Nod has previously created. It brilliantly combines elements such as standout characters, captivating storytelling, engaging combat, and a unique setting into an unparalleled gaming experience that’s hard to find elsewhere. It’s remarkably entertaining and undeniably the studio's most ambitious project to date. There’s simply nothing more to add; this game is everything a gamer could wish for.

User Rating: Be the first one !

Spread the love
Avatar photo
BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines - including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

No comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.