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Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden Review

Game developer Don’t Nod Entertainment is best known for their narrative adventure games such as the critically acclaimed Life Is Strange series, Tell Me Why and Jusant. Games which generally feature no combat. However, with Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden they do their best to make an action adventure game while keeping a narrative focus. Read our Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden review to find out if they’ve succeeded.

A supernatural frontier

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden has an interesting setting not often explored in video games. It’s set in the 17th century Americas. With the Americas still being a wild frontier, the two protagonists arrive in the town of New Eden. Red and Antea are two Banishers, who are also lovers, who’ve traveled over the Atlantic ocean at the behest of a friend. Banishers are vanquishers of anything supernatural, such as ghosts and specters. New Eden appears to be haunted and it’s their task to rid it of supernatural foes. But it quickly becomes apparent this is no easy task.

As they arrive in New Eden, their friend has died while they were on route, hope seems lost and there are no leads on what to do next. The story picks up really fast after the intro and within an hour there have already been some major surprises. Without spoiling too much, events happen which puts Antea and Red’s relationship under strain due to their role as Banishers. A major theme for the overall story is exploring their relationship and the choices you have to make for love. You’ll meet a diverse cast of characters along the way which put forth all kinds of dilemma’s for you.

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden Screenshot

Storytelling masters

Don’t Nod Entertainment proves once again they are masters at storytelling. The main story is great and it has kept me wanting to see it through to the end. I forgot time on a regular basis, which is what makes a great video game for me. Often when main quests are expertly written, side quests and side stories are falling behind. This is not the case however. Every now and again you’ll come across side quests and optional content. All of it gives you stories focused on moral dilemmas. What seems right isn’t always right and vica versa. It reminded me of The Witcher 3 storytelling a lot. For example, I came across a ghost who was haunting someone I came across and drove him insane. After careful investigation I found out the ghost was of his friend who fell off a ledge. It seemed like a murder at first, but the ghost was haunting his friend because he cannibalized his friend out of necessity. Something I totally didn’t expect. I could help but feel sorry for both.

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is filled with these kinds of dilemma’s featuring excellent storytelling. Most of the time, excellent stories take place in a huge world in order to tell it’s stories. This isn’t the case with Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden. It focused on New Eden and its surroundings. Your job is to simply head towards New Eden. It’s an impressive feat to have this degree of storytelling in such a concentrated area.

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden Screenshot

Filled with content

That being said, Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is no small game. While the game takes place in a very specific region, it’ll take you dozens of hours to complete the game with some of its side content. If you want to complete everything there is to be found, you’ll spend a lot more time than this. Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden’s world is fairly linear, in the sense that the story takes you straight to New Eden. However, every area is expertly designed with lots of secret areas and sideways. It’ll take you a lot more time to explore every nook and cranny, which are filled with challenges, enemies, collectibles and items. The game also surprisingly features metroidvania aspects. A lot of side passages require specific abilities in order to get there, which aren’t always available right away. You’ll need to come back later in order to fully explore every region. I just wouldn’t call it a true metroidvania because the main quest progression is always linear.

Unlike Don’t Nod Entertainment’s previous games, this game features combat and it’s a pretty big aspect. Combat initially focuses on light attacks, heavy attacks, blocking and dodging as we’ve come to grow accustomed to. It even reminds me a little of the modern God of War games. It’s not as polished but is definitely inspired by it. As you progress through the game and level up you’ll gain skill points. You’ll spend these to unlock new abilities and combo’s and refine your play style. You can focus on brute force, combos or extra options in combat. Unfortunately, while the idea of its God of War-like combat is solid, its execution is mediocre. Combat is often very easy even against tougher enemies. I breezed through the game, cheesing some combat encounters by simply dodging and parrying while waiting for my abilities.

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden Screenshot

Switching it up

One of the cooler aspects of combat is being able to switch between Red and Antea mid-combo. Yes, you control both characters. How this works exactly is something I won’t spoil for you but it offers an interesting dimension. Being Banishers, Red and Antea also have the ability to use a Banish ability. If your Banish meter is filled up you can Banisher a ghost doing massive damage and often one-shotting them. As you unlock new skills you can use this Banisher meter with various abilities, giving you more options in combat. 

Skills aren’t the only way to customize your character however. There’s also a gear and upgrade system. You can equip various gear, which is found by exploring or completing various challenges. With materials you find throughout the world, you’re able to upgrade this gear to make Red and Antea more powerful. As you progress, you’ll encounter a lot of different gear to supplement your playstyle. In this game, exploration definitely pays off and you should not leave any place unexplored, if you have the time.

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden Screenshot

Exploration is a joy

The map is also filled with a lot of collectibles. Collectibles tie in well with the local side quests and stories. Often offering extra background information on local ghosts or characters. They’re interesting to read and are worth going out of your way for. Exploration and collectibles is very reminiscent of the A Plague Tale games for me. This is a huge compliment as these games are known for very interesting environments and exploration mechanics. 

And that’s not all. The environments in Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden are stunning to look at. Despite the areas being gloomy and gray at times, which fits the supernatural narrative, you’ll occasionally find environments which will make your mouth drop. The cutscenes and facial animations are great. They offer a lot of detail and coupled with great animations enhance the storytelling even further.

Accompanying this, Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden has a great soundtrack which adapts itself to the scenes that play out well. Eerie music combined with serene background music makes everything come alive so much more. Perhaps the biggest achievement in terms of sound design is the voice acting. It’s engaging to the point my attention rarely dwelled off.

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden Screenshot

Conclusion

2024 is barely underway and I’ve already been taken by surprise by some outstanding games. First it was Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown and Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is the latest surprise hit. I was expecting an alright adventure game but this game is far more than that. A captivating story for sure but it offers enticing gameplay which will keep me engaged for hours even after completing the main quests. Excellent exploration mechanics and engaging side quests make this a complete package, despite its mediocre combat mechanics. Hats off to Don’t Nod Entertainment.

Pros:

  • An incredible and captivating story
  • Moral dilemmas even in side quests
  • Excellent voice acting
  • Loads to explore

Cons:

  • Combat is mediocre and rarely challenging

Grade: 8,5

That was it for our Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden Review. Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is available through GeForce Now. Be sure to follow us on Twitter right here.