Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden

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Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden review
Dan Lenois


A highly compelling fresh action-RPG from DontNod...

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is one of those games that is inherently difficult to accurately summarize in a nutshell, which may be why the game's pre-launch marketing campaign perhaps made an obvious mistake in marketing it as intrinsically alike to DontNod's Life is Strange games; an almost exclusively story-driven game, one where the gameplay itself is only a secondary consideration at best.

This was my own impression after watching the initial trailers. However, after playing through it from beginning to end, this definitely proved not to be the case.

Finding the balance between old and new

When you attempt to tackle historical fiction, whether in film, TV, books, or here in videogame form, one consideration that quickly rises to the surface is finding a careful balance between known facts and your own fictitious narrative.

It's very clear from the start that DontNod does little with the few historical elements it introduces, to the point where one has to wonder whether they might have been better off instead making the game a pure high fantasy adventure. One could easily argue that Banishers is as close to historical fiction as Diablo 4 or Hogwarts Legacy are, which is to say not at all.

A world full of threats, both clear and ambiguous

Mercifully, Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden does not join the seemingly-endless ranks of the open-world gaming genre. Instead, it adapts a more semi-open design philosophy, almost always providing you a slew of opportunities to venture off the beaten path for a little while before inevitably you have to retrace your steps in order to continue forward.

This emphasis on linearity works to the game's advantage. Each area you pass through in your adventures is very evidently handcrafted. Everything you see around you adds new dimensions to the ongoing unfolding narrative.

The camera will even pan up or downward during certain in-game rendered cinematic moments, directing your attention toward little visual details that all ooze atmospheric immersion.

A Matter of Performance

The game runs smoothly, almost flawlessly. The optimization here has been excellently handled, even when there is an excessive amount of foliage, models, and other assets for the game to render concurrently. There were a handful of instances where fatal crashes did occur during certain cutscenes midway into the story campaign, but other than these few exceptions, there were no performance issues during the playthrough.

Strike first, Ask questions later

As this is an Action-RPG by nature, combat is a critical component to consider. The combat system itself is decent, although there are a few obvious areas for improvement. Attacks tend to feel a bit floaty, and the game's enemy targeting system will not allow you to stay locked on to a single enemy even if you've marked them.

If any other enemy approaches you within a few meters from any 360-degree position in relation to your character, your enemy targeting will begin indecisively flicking between the enemies, and your character will change direction mid-swing randomly as the game frantically tries to process the existence of more than one foe at a time.

Foes to Fear

If you play long enough, you will inevitably find yourself coming up face-to-face against some exceptionally dangerous foes. Banishers offers a variety of difficulty settings, including Story, Easy, Normal, Hard, and Very Hard, which the player can change at any time in-game without penalty.

For review purposes, I played through the first few hours on Normal, before dialing it up to Hard. At Normal difficulty, bosses present a moderate challenge, one that more or less any semi-competent player could easily beat, given enough time. When cranked up a notch to Hard, it becomes a lot more of a give and take.

Each boss has their own distinct attack pattern, making them relatively easy to predict, evade, and counter. The game does an excellent job of seamlessly communicating to you through both visual and audio cues what you need to do, and more importantly, when. All you have to do is pay attention, and not stay still for too long.

However, those fearing that said description reminds them of a Souls-like can relax somewhat, as while bosses are tough, they are nevertheless fairly forgiving.

Toss a coin to your Banisher...

Banishers makes no attempt to hide its obvious inspiration of The Witcher games throughout both its general story premise and its gameplay design. You have a pair of monster hunters who don't view all monsters as evil, but more often than not misunderstood and simply in need of help and compassion.

You rely on drawn incantations and verbal spells to do what needs being done, but at the same time, sometimes a bit of drawn steel comes in handy too. Also, most NPCs seem to distrust you because of your occupation, although they're more than fine with paying you to rid their settlement of monsters.

It would be too far to say Banishers is a wholesale knockoff of The Witcher, as there are nevertheless a whole slew of notable differences, but suffice it to say that RPG fans hungering for a new game offering something very similar to CD Projekt Red's currently-stagnant franchise do have a contemporary alternative to sink their teeth into.

A Story to Stick With

The game's narrative, while it starts off slow and initially doesn't do a great job establishing the protagonists and the context, does slowly pick up over time.

Players who are patient with a gradual buildup will be rewarded over time, as the character interactions, fueled by the decent writing, and the authentic, emotionally-charged performances of its voice cast, does a truly spectacular job of keeping you invested from beginning to end. I even found myself seeking out almost all of the available side quests, just to prolong my stay in the world and its cast of characters a little longer.


Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden delivers satisfactorily with all its gameplay mechanics and narrative elements. Whether you are a gameplay-first, or story-first, type of player, there will likely be more than enough on both fronts to keep you interested all the way to the very end. While it still has a few technical hiccups and oddly implemented game mechanics, it still manages to rise well above what we have normally come to expect from most modern AAA and AA games. If you have $50 to spare, Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is well worth a go anytime.

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fun score


Intriguing narrative, compelling VA, varied gameplay


Overreliance on grinding for crafting materials; poor enemy targeting system, technical issues