Home Reviews 4.5/5 Review Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden Review

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden Review

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From DON’T NOD and Focus Entertainment is Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden. Now, I like a ghost story, and from the videos that we’ve seen prior to launch, I was cautiously optimistic for what was promised; a spookier version of Dark Souls, with the emphasis on the Souls bit. 

The thing is, I’ve not enjoyed too many of DON’T NOD’s games before, as I think I’m the only person in the world who thought that Life is Strange was, well, dull and tedious. However, with Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden they have redeemed themselves in my eyes, if you’ll pardon the minor spoiler.

So, come with me to New Eden, and let’s see why there are enough ghosts about to give Dr. Peter Venkman the willies…

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A tale of two…

We shall begin with a visit to the narrative, and here the news is excellent. We play as a pair of Banishers, Red mac Raith and Antea Duarte, who are not only partners, but lovers as well. They are called to the town of New Eden by an old friend, the minister of the town, who needs help to try and solve a haunting. However, this is no ordinary haunting, as the town has come under the curse of a Nightmare. 

At the end of the prologue (and this isn’t a spoiler, honest), Antea is killed by the Nightmare, and because of the bond that she has with Red, is brought back from the void to accompany him on his journey to get rid of the curse once and for all. The thing is, Antea needs to reclaim her body to be able to move on. I’m not going to give any more details about the tale, but replayability seems to be nailed on for at least two playthroughs!

Now, being a Banisher, Red should really be trying to get rid of Antea, but being her lover, he will want to keep her close; this seeming contradiction is at the heart of the story. Of course, having a ghost on your side is never a bad thing when it comes to combat, but more of that later. 

Presentation of Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is very good indeed, with a couple of issues to report. The graphics are great, with character models and enemies being lovingly rendered. Red can change his outfit as he finds new clothes, and in a nice touch, he appears in the cutscenes wearing the correct gear, which helps with the immersion. The world is beautifully drawn as well, from dark mineshafts to massive open valleys and scary woods, tiny villages to pastures and graveyards; it all looks great. The people that you meet are also very well animated, and having a conversation with the NPCs is a pleasure to watch and listen to, as the voice acting is superb throughout. You’ll want to chat too as talking to folk reveals their diverse personalities, and even the ghosts you meet and help lay to rest have distinct stories and attitudes to deal with. 

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Ready to banish?

All in all the game, largely, looks and sounds like a winner. However, there are a couple of issues which prevent it being perfect. The first is the camera, which does the usual third person combat thing of freaking out if you are backed into a corner. The second are some weird sound glitches that happen every now and then – the most memorable example was when I was stood near a waterfall and the sound kept fading in and out, like a badly tuned radio. The last thing is that although the game looks like it should play as an open worlder, it isn’t, and the places that you can go are strictly controlled. Other than these, all is rosy in the garden. 

The gameplay surprised me, I have to say. I went into this expecting a basic hack and slash game, with a Dark Souls flavour, and what I got instead was a whole lot more. There are elements of Souls-like combat, but Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is also a love story, a detective game, and the chance of putting deductions together to solve hauntings. It’s nice that all of the elements are balanced absolutely perfectly. 

Let’s have a look at each element in turn, shall we? Starting with the combat and Red has a sword and a torch that he uses as a melee weapon, and a rifle for ranged combat. Obviously as you go through the game, you can find new equipment such as new rifles, and these bits and bobs can also be upgraded at the rest spots, making them stronger. In this way, you can keep getting better and hopefully keep up with the ghosts, who also get stronger! It is lucky really that our sword and rifle can kill incorporeal spirits, really. The combat works well, on the whole, but the dodge move (it is a law that these games have a dodge move, I think) doesn’t dodge far enough for my liking, especially in the later stages when the enemies are pulling off AoE attacks left, right and centre. Still, it all works and having Antea join in does open up new possibilities, especially as she gains new abilities that can not only be used in combat, but in exploration as well. 

The detective side of the game comes in the haunting cases, where we have to talk to the people involved, solve clues and figure out what happened. Once we have found the focus of the haunting, we can summon the ghost and talk to it, trying to figure out what they want and how best to deal with them. Again, I’m not going into too much detail for fear of spoilers, but I will say this – at the conclusion of each case, you have to make a choice, and the choice you decide on will play a part towards your chosen ending. Luckily, the choices are clearly labelled, so you’re not going to make a mistake. These haunting cases are usually pretty clever, but every now and then one of them is a little obtuse, requiring you to think extremely laterally to move it forward. Still, this is a very entertaining way to spend the time.

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Wandering the world is a pleasure

Exploration is the third side of Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden, and wandering about the world is a pleasure to do. There are various points of interest to find (seriously, the map begins to look like an Assassin’s Creed game at times) and these are always worth finding. There are resources to find and gather, ghost nests to cleanse, giant elite ghosts to summon and defeat, and so much more. As we go through the game, there are also rituals that we need to perform to make things happen, and it is entirely possible to do the wrong ritual and waste the resources! Pay attention to what Red and Antea are saying and they should steer you right, but you’ll know when you do the correct ritual as Red will enter a cutscene, which is usually your cue to get ready to rumble. Antea can reveal things that are obscured by the spirits, and can also use her abilities to zoom around things that would stop you dead otherwise. All in all, exploration usually pays off. 

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden may well surprise you – in a good way. It includes way more than you may expect, the story and the world are fascinating, and it plays extremely well indeed. It isn’t perfect, but it’s obvious that Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden has been made with a passion that should be appreciated. 

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