Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden Review
Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is the latest title from developer Don’t Nod, best known for their work on titles such as Life is Strange, Jusant, and the spiritual predecessor of this game, Vampyr. Ghosts of New Eden is a narrative-driven action RPG with a heavy decision-making element. With Don’t Nod’s past experiences, it is hard not to feel that Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden has taken on some of the best parts of their previous games and put it all together here.
Ghosts of New Eden is a story of two Banishers, Antea Duarte and Red mac Raith, who have travelled to a town in the New World, New Eden, in 1695. They’re there to assist the region plagued by a curse at the urge of an old friend. Banishers are spirit hunters who can dispel curses with rituals and otherwise protect the living from the dead. Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden isn’t just a story about ghost hunting, as Antea and Red are also lovers.
After an early investigation, Antea and Red are faced with a dubious situation in which Antea is killed and turned into a spirit. In addition to dealing with the curse on New Eden, Red and Antea will also have to navigate the decision between ascending Antea’s soul or attempting to resurrect her by sacrificing the living. Aside from the actual story, the atmosphere of Banishers exudes the feel that the game is looking for. It provides an air of mystery alongside some minor creepy elements as well.
Overall, Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden has an intriguing narrative with heartfelt moments, difficult decisions, and engaging side stories. While I made the decision to pursue a specific path throughout the game, I continually found it difficult to stay on that path, questioning myself at different intervals. While the decisions may not feel as impactful in the grand scheme of things to some, they play a major part not only within the story and multiple endings but in the player experience as well.
At its core, Banisher is an action RPG. Red and Antea journey to rid the region of the curse. The two of them must fight off spirits, undead, and more. The combat of the game is solid There are the pretty typical third-person combat style of attacks both light and heavy, ranged attacks, special attacks, and parrying. To supplement your abilities, both Red and Antea have a number of skills to unlock as well as equipment to upgrade. Overall, the combat of Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is pretty fun. I did experience some framerate slowdowns at times.
Outside of combat are two main gameplay loops of traversal and investigations. Traversal is limited to a single button. Pathfinding, backtracking, and opening shortcuts play a significant role in travelling the world. A very thoughtful feature is the automatic marking of maps. The marks point players back to points of interest that were not accessible upon first visit. Overall gameplay is well done. It does start to get a bit repetitive over time as you start to see the overall flow more as a series of game mechanics.
Investigations help to push the story forward and play a massive role in the side stories. Players can investigate as both Red and Antea, with Antea being able to see things that Red cannot. By finding and identifying clues, players are able to determine what has happened in the situation. They can use that information in making decisions. This portion of the game is highly engaging, being able to determine what is truly occurring and being able to form opinions in real-time while hearing Red and Antea’s thoughts to potentially validate yours.
For the scope of the game, Banishers was visually impressive. Having stayed away from most trailers, I came into the experience without expectations. I was pleasantly surprised after the prologue section in finding that the game was not as ambiently dark going forward. The injection of light into the game helped to demonstrate the level of detail. It also contrasted greatly with the nighttime visuals. On the user experience side, enemies, waypoints, and other indicators made it easy to determine pathways and where to find things.
Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is a splendid experience crafted intricately by Don’t Nod. The game starts off strong, but a bit of the allure wears off over time as you peek behind the curtains of the various systems within the game. That said, the game’s intriguing narrative, relatively tough decisions, and overall solid gameplay elements make Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden one of the strongest gaming experiences of early 2024.
*** Game provided by publishers for review ***
- Strong, intriguing narrative
- Beautiful aesthetics
- Great worldbuilding
- Some minor framerate slowdown
- Game mechanics can break immersion