Bannerman: review

  • Format: PC
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Armitage Games
  • Developer: Armitage Games
  • Players: 1
  • Site: http://bannermangame.com/index.htm
  • Game code provided by the developer

Bannerman, Bannerman, does whatever a banner can. Flaps in wind, flies in breeze, as your army’s brought to its knees. Look out! Here comes Bannerman.

Bannerman is a pretty looking game (mostly) that combines a well-told story with some hard but thoughtful combat that lots of people will compare to Dark Souls, which is a vague and unhelpful comparison for most games; this one included.

You play as the Bannerman; bitten by a radioactive banner, you gained all the powers of a big piece of flappy cloth with your Lord’s colours on it… Actually, you play as the Bannerman, a dutiful soldier in the army of Lord Crowley. Your task is to lead the men into battle under your lord’s banner, which is a fairly easy task at first, as you parade through the rank and file troops battling on either side. Then you reach the “evil” Lord Randall who only goes and knocks you out and steals the banner. Oh no!

Obviously it’s all your fault, so now you’re sent in to do the dirty work as you scramble across the country in pursuit of the banner. This means you’ll be storming villages, catacombs, cities, bridges, and castles – by yourself. Remember it’s all your fault, so you have to fix everything. And if you question it you normally get shouted down and reminded that it’s all your fault and you need to redeem yourself.

This redeeming business does take its toll on you, but not as much as the senseless killing. After a battle (level) is over you get to see the brutality of war, which usually means bodies mutilated in various ways littering your surroundings, including the majority of – but not all of – a body being strung up. Then you go to sleep for the night and get to live through nightmares instead, which usually involve some introspective thinking as well as more horrific events to see.

The pacing of it all and the visual storytelling are what we liked most about it. It’s also rather pretty in motion – oh and the music is great, if scarcely used. The way that the battles are shown as you walk or jog through them, gives a real sense of scale and time passing, despite it not showing Total-War-esque battles. If there’s one thing that doesn’t look as nice, it’s the character portraits. Those are some real 90’s style faces that only mothers could truly love.

But there’s also fighting. Lots of fighting. It’s not a game that you can win through brute force; you have to pick your moments in battle. Stamina runs out quite quickly when you’re attacking or blocking, and if it runs out you are pretty much defenseless. It’s about trading blows at the right time and blocking when getting away isn’t an option.

The addition of a shield or a bow as a special weapon is also very interesting as it allows for some changing up of playstyles when you find them. The bow is a little ridiculous as enemies don’t react to you having one, and will happily take arrows to the face until they die. The shield however fits in nicely and doesn’t make fights feel too easy in the same way that the bow does.

Pacing is one of the points we think it really nails. There was an issue with it as levels can take quite a while to run and fight back through if you die, but there are unlockable shortcuts that all levels have – if you get far enough. Just after we finished the game, it was patched to make our biggest complaint a thing of the past. A few levels were missing shortcuts which meant dying forced you to do lots of increasingly tedious running through the same dialogue and same locations. Our complaint’s gone now, unless you don’t manage to find the shortcut, in which case they also patched in fasting running speed so even that’s not so bad anymore.

The only other thing that struck us as bad was the fact that losing all your stamina could mean getting stuck in a short cycle of being beat down in a corner. This led to us being unable to do anything before kicking the bucket – or, more accurately, getting the bucket kicked out of us. It almost feels fair because positioning and managing stamina is hugely important (but it sure isn’t always fun).

But what do we think overall? It’s a little difficult at times, and there were things we didn’t like that have been fixed since. We do think it’s great though. It’s short enough to not outstay its welcome and long enough to get your fill from it. As we said it can be quite hard but it’s also very rewarding, and deserving of any praise it gets.

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Written by Sean P

I enjoy playing games and I enjoy writing things, so I decided to combine the two. I do bits here and there and have a twitter that mainly just announces things I've done as my life revolves around very little that is truly interesting.

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