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Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden Review (PS5, Xbox Series X/S, & PC)

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Red and Antea in Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden Review

Developer Don’t Nod is no stranger to gaming. You probably know their most famous works: Life is Strange, Vampyr, Jusant, and many more. It's enough to say that each game influences Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden. Most of all, Vampyr has a more significant imprint on the new game, with striking narrative similarities for its fans. 

In general, of course, Don’t Nod has a solid reputation for crafting gripping tales. This time, they bring their expertise to choice-driven narratives. The weight of your choices and consequences, however, are significantly heavier in Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden

Will it be enough to sustain your intrigue from start to finish? How about the gameplay and combat? Just how worthwhile is the whole experience? Let’s find out in our Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden review.

Into the Unknown

Antea and Red in Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden Review

Set in the 17th century in a New England colony, banishers Antea Duarte and Red Mac Raith set forth into unchartered territory. Their professions, of course, have become second nature: to seek out ghosts haunting the living and send them off into the afterlife. However, they’ve been called upon by a prior associate to help purify the heart of his home. 

Spirits roam about the place, inflicting as much dread on the living as they drain the life force that powers the colony. In the process, they render their loved ones unable to move on with their lives. Upon arrival, Antea and Red soon learn the spirits here aren’t the usual ghosts they’ve fought before. Soon, an attempt to banish a powerful spirit leads to the untimely death of Antea.

All of these are back-of-the-box stuff, so no spoilers or anything. It’s also the backbone that powers the events that follow in ways unimaginable to the human imagination. Picture this: Antea, besides having an ongoing romantic relationship with Red, is also his mentor in the ghost-hunting business. With Antea’s death, her apprentice is forced to pick up the mantle.

You guessed it. Your first order of business is, in a nasty twist of fate, to banish Antea’s lingering spirit to the afterlife. The decision seems easy enough at the start. You’ve yet to fall in love with the dynamic between the two. “That’s totally fine,” Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden says, “you can always change your decision later on.

The Monty Hall Brain Teaser

Antea talking to the ghost of Charles Banishers_Ghosts_of_New_Eden

While the Monty Hall problem may be a statistics puzzle that gives you three doors, behind which are two goats and a car, the choices that follow in the game are nowhere near based on probability. They’re based on a constant tug-and-war between your emotions and morals. 

Okay, so you decide you want to keep your lover around a little longer. As it turns out, you can resurrect them back to life at the expense of a handful of human souls down the road. Or the latter. The game gives you the freedom of choice. In time, you’ll meet many NPCs in need of your banishing skills. It leads you down an investigative path to find clues and collect evidence. 

You may need to interview the spirit in question and, perhaps, the grieving party as well—hear their sides of the story, as it were. The goal here is to determine the reason for the spirit’s “unfinished business,” with spirits often lingering around because of it. Perhaps they were killed and are seeking justice. Perhaps deeper wrongdoing is at play. Find that out and bring all parties for the final reckoning. 

So, Who Dunnit?

The nightmare and Red

Often, three choices are set before you. Banish. Ascend. Blame. If the spirit has inflicted too much damage on the living, for instance, you can banish them to ‘hell.’ If they’re deserving of peace, you can ascend them to, uhm, ‘heaven.’ However, if the human party is at fault, you can blame them, essentially sucking them dry of their soul and, in the process, increasing the chances of your lover, Antea, coming back to life. 

As if those three weren’t emotionally tasking enough, it turns out Antea needs more than a handful of souls to regain her life fully. And, yes, the previously seemingly clear-cut lines will become gray areas as you literally pause the game to deliberate your next move extensively. I’ve only barely scratched the surface of the dilemma forged in this game, with themes of colonization, love, sacrifice, race, religious zealotism, loss, and many more intertwining in mature ways.

That’s the beauty and stronghold that upholds the Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden, hence giving it a huge chunk of words to express. But even more so, the voice acting is impeccable, especially from protagonists Antea and Red. Their love story, purely raw and dark, comes just in time for Valentine’s Day and exemplifies the beauty in the human connection (and, strangely, fantastical spirits, too.)

You’ll meet lots of NPCs. Pay no mind to awkward lip-syncs. Expect no Triple-A standard character modeling, either. But they deliver their individual stories candidly and grip you by the heartstrings throughout. The story delivery is only exemplified by the stunning atmospheric settings with well-detailed environments and expansive, semi-open world settings. It’s perfect, at least where the narrative and setting are concerned.

Die, Spirits

Red fighting off ghosts

Now, combat… I mean, we all know Vampyr’s combat, the closest in the open RPG genre to Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden, wasn’t its strongest suit. The same applies here. Combat isn’t nearly as good as the narrative. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not distasteful, either. But combat is missing the exhilarating factor you’d be looking for. You won’t find yourself longing for the following combat sequence.

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden resembles God of War. Squeezing through crevices has also been implemented here, but I digress. It’s when you compare the two that the cracks begin to show, starting with the environment. It's nowhere near as fantastical or dynamic as one would hope. But more drastic, combat feels like a slog. 

You have your basic heavy and light attacks, while defensive streamlines down to the usual dodging, blocking, and parrying. It feels repetitive, with hardly the kind of in-depth combos God of War has, to even start to get tiresome. I can’t quite put a finger on what exactly went wrong here. 

A lack of variety in the weapons and gear used, perhaps. Or the whistling of your sword as you swing it through the enemy. You do get the chance to switch between Red, who's more of a physical swordsman, and Antea, a more elemental brawler, but the transition mid-fight feels clunky. 

Into the Woods

seeker and Red talking

The third main gameplay focuses on exploration, which also grows tiring. It’s wooded chiefly out here to traverse and comb through. Sure, a few scenes stand out, but hardly enough to push you to branch off the beaten path on your own accord. The items you collect aren’t compelling either, they are often upgrades to weapons you already have.

While at it, might I add the clues and evidence you collect for your paranormal investigation activities feel off? It feels more like ticking items off a checklist, where the game kind of directs you toward finding clues. An investigative playthrough will, instead, give you room to scan your environment and piece together information for yourself. The different ‘investigations’ still hold stellar revelations in the end, so I guess that counts. 


Cemetry Sign in Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden review

Enough said. Banishers: Ghost of New Eden is, above all, a story about the struggle of letting go of a loved one that I believe every type of gamer will find compelling. It also tells a gripping, choice-driven narrative that constantly challenges your morals and will to sacrifice others for your own good. Choices are never easy, often pausing to reflect on the path you want to take and still providing room to change your prerogative at any point. Further, the game has high replayability to discover all possible endings, with enough side quests to take a breather through. 

Yet, despite the many accolades you give to the storytelling prowess of Banishers: Ghost of New Eden, combat and exploration remain a letdown. Don’t get me wrong. Combat and exploration aren’t utterly bad. It’s just sluggish and uninteresting. Character progression could have included more variety in abilities and new weapons to unlock. Transitioning between Red and Antea could have been more seamless. Some parts of combat feel clunky, while movement through New Eden is sluggish. You’d run around and often see the same forest-ridden environment over and over. Before long, you’re chasing the following story, which must say plenty, that despite the issues you may find playing Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden, they’ll never become too dire to detract you from the overall experience. 

Fans of Vampyr should doubtlessly give Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden a try. It’s evidently superior in storytelling, graphics and performance. Fans of action RPGs, too, will find something special in the untangled, deep and dark love story between Red and Antea. 

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden Review (PS5, Xbox Series X/S, & PC)

Valentine’s Special: A Charming Dark Love Story

Just in time for Valentine’s Day is a charming but dark love story you won’t want to miss. Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden takes you on a compelling journey that tests your morals. It throws at you compelling themes of the 17th century and weaves in at the heart of it all the struggle of letting a loved one go. While the game has its issues, specifically combat and exploration, feeling sluggish and tiresome at points, it does exemplify something unique in its narrative worth checking out for yourself.

Evans I. Karanja is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything technology. He is always on the lookout for interesting topics, and enjoys writing about video games, cryptocurrency and blockchain and more. When not writing, he can be found playing video games or watching F1.