Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is a new action-adventure by Don’t Nod studio, the developers behind the popular Life is Strange series. The game is set to release on February 13, 2024.

BEST GAMES ON

Where can you play Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden?

The game is now available on PC (Steam), PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. Check out the review roundup for Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden to find out what other reviews have to say about this game. At the time of publishing this article, the score for this game was 82 per cent on Opencritic and 78 per cent on Metacritic.

193.00 AED
in stock
6 new from 183.00 AED
as of 25/02/2024 10:43 PM
Amazon.ae

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden review

4 /5
Pros:
  • Gorgeous visuals
  • Great character writing
  • Great side quests

Cons:

  • Choices don’t have interesting consequences


It was 2015’s Life is Strange that put studio Don’t Nod on everyone’s radar, but I have been rooting for this team ever since they put out Remember Me in 2013. 2018’s Vampyr cemented them as one of my favourite studios.

This is a team that’s always punching above their weight to try and deliver complex and emotionally charged narratives unlike anything else. On those terms, Banishers: Ghost of New Eden is a rousing success..

Banishers takes place in North America in 1695, following the adventures of Red Mac Raith and Antea Duarte, two Banishers (see: ghost hunters), as they arrive in New Eden to assist an old friend with a particularly nasty haunting. Without spoiling any details, Antea winds up as a ghost and the two team up to find a way to bring her back… or maybe not?

Like any ghost, Antea has unfinished business with those responsible for her death. And she won’t go gently into the night without seeing that business through. But what you’re going to do after all that’s done is what forms the thematic backbone of the story.

Will you let Antea ascend into the afterlife? Or will you harvest spirit essence from alive humans to resurrect her? The latter is the obviously “bad” choice, but Don’t Nod find a way to make this more interesting than it sounds.

You’re told the mechanics of banishing, ascension, and resurrection before Antea bites the dust. So by the time the game presents this dilemma, you have probably arrived, having already decided how you feel about these questions.

You have to commit early on whether you’ll be benevolent or ruthless in your banishings. While you can change directions any time you want by simply picking different choices, posing these questions at the start rather than the end means you have to sit with every decision you make while being acutely aware of the consequences.

Sadly, those consequences never truly materialise. On a gameplay systems level, the consequences are virtually nonexistent. As an example, in the very first town, I was tasked with helping the blacksmith and the cook. I went on to murder both of them and harvest their life essence, and then inform the town chief that I “fixed” the hauntings. She congratulated me and asked no further questions. Nobody brings up the fact that the two people I was asked to help have wound up dead.

This is further compounded by the fact that Antea will agree with whichever decision you make. Early in the story, she takes a hardline stance on what’s right and wrong but never comments on times when Red blatantly goes against her ideals.

She will always be on your side no matter what you choose, which once again robs any decisions of any weight. Beyond the big-picture decision of whether you want to resurrect Antea or let her move on, your choices don’t matter beyond the confines of the quests they occur.

The good thing, then, is that those quests are utterly fantastic. Every side quest, or “Haunting” as they’re called here, is a complex multi-layered mystery with excellent character writing.

These hauntings present some dense moral dilemmas that I often debated a lot despite having decided early on about what I wanted to do. They also make Banishers feel like watching an anthology TV series where each episode is a great self-contained story with little to no bearing on the overarching plot.

The actual gameplay of Banishers is also a good time. 2018’s God of War was a clear inspiration from the controls to the camera. You combo light and heavy attacks while dodging and parrying when necessary, combined with a ranged weapon (a rifle in this case) to take care of those pesky long-distance enemies. But once again, Don’t Nod has opted to build on their influence rather than simply emulate it.

The big new idea here is that you can switch between Red and Antea at any time with the press of a button, and they both present different pros and cons. Red can use physical weapons as well as block enemy attacks, while Antea can blink to distant enemies as well as dish out ghostly punches and kicks.

You’re expected to switch between the two depending on whether you’re fighting specters or flesh-and-blood enemies. Once you get deeper into the skill trees, you’ll be able to perform combo attacks with both characters that both make your life easier and look extremely cool.

This character switching mechanic also applies to exploration and puzzles. Antea, due to her ghostly nature, can see things Red can’t. She can find ghostly essences, reveal hidden clues, blink the two heroes across large gaps, etc.

It’s not terribly complex, gameplay-wise, but Don’t Nod have done a great job of using gameplay systems to convey the relationship between the protagonists. You really feel that these are two people connected on a spiritual level, and who won’t let even death get in the way of their collaborative dynamic. It’s really good stuff.

The levels in which all this gameplay occurs are also fantastic. You spend most of your time in the untamed wilderness, punctuated by small pockets of rural communities that are eking out a life on the frontier despite the beginnings of colonisation starting to show. The woods feel vast and never-ending despite largely being a series of linear corridors connecting wider arenas.

Visually, Banishers is utterly stunning. The environments you explore are rich with detail and beautifully lit to always put their best face forward. I was routinely struck with the sheer beauty of some of the vistas Don’t Nod have built.

Character models are a bit uneven, unfortunately. Red, Antea, and some of the other named main characters are lavishly detailed and showcase some great facial animations, while a lot of the NPCs you meet look like they came out of an early PS4 game.

It’s not a deal breaker and Don’t Nod was clearly very economical with their budget, but it does feel jarring when two characters in a conversation show a vast disparity in fidelity.

The voice acting bears special mention here. Russ Bain brings the pain as Red, delivering a performance that’s equal parts strong and mournful. He carries himself like a man always on the verge of tears, but just barely holding on because he knows he has to.

Amaka Okafor’s Antea is unshakable and inscrutable, but shows a tender side in the more private moments with Red. The game spends very little time exploring their lives outside of their work, but the actors truly make you believe their relationship has been through it.

Ildiko Preszly deserves special praise here for delivering one of the most terrifying villain performances I’ve witnessed in some time. Every word she speaks feels like a knife. Every NPC and side character you meet is also voiced beautifully. Whatever these NPCs lack in facial detail, they make up for with their voices. It helps that all the dialogue is well-written, too.

So yeah, I really liked this. The story never really presents heavy consequences for your choices – good or bad – but it poses some tantalising moral and ethical questions that I found implicitly rewarding to grapple with. Often, the asking of the question is more compelling than the answers, which is a fact Banishers understands well.

Outside the story you’re presenting with a visually stunning action RPG with crunchy and satisfying combat, rewarding progression systems, and one of the best-written romances in all of gaming.

If you’re a fan of narrative-driven action RPGs, ghost stories, love stories, or any combination of the above, then Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is a haunting you should gladly welcome in your life.

Vincent Peter
Vincent Peter

Writer, artist, musician, or photographer depending on whom you ask. Fan of RPGs and music you haven’t heard of.

threads

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *