Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is Don’t Nod Entertainment’s latest departure from the decision-based narrative games that it’s best known for. Set in the mid-17th century, the world of New Eden is teeming with paranormal mysteries to investigate. While the game features some excellent stories, the combat and overarching narrative failed to leave a lasting impression on me.
Life after death
Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden follows a pair of lovers named Antea and Red mac Raith. They’re Banishers, a line of work that tasks them with investigating the ghostly mysteries of the land of New Eden, which there are no shortage of. After one of the lovers becomes a ghost themself, the couple embarks on a journey to return them to their mortal form.
While exploring fictional 17th-century North America, there are countless characters you’ll come across, each with distinct struggles and motivations. Meeting the various people of New Eden and learning about their backstories was some of the most fun I had playing through the story. There’s a rich amount of lore to parse through, and I felt motivated to seek out every piece of ancillary information I could find.
As a fan of Don't Nod's branching narratives, I was glad to see that it's still a core tenet in Banishers. The studio flexes its narrative design skills through the game’s many paranormal investigations and side quests as there are multiple ways to handle investigations, and the game allows you to work your way through a mystery without too much hand-holding. I love that the game lets you decide whether or not to banish, sacrifice, or ascend the souls you're engaging with, and I felt rewarded for taking proper investigative measures and going off the beaten path.
While several of the smaller stories in Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden were able to pack an emotional punch, the overarching narrative didn’t do much for me. While I empathized with their tragic situation, I never truly fell in love with Antea or Red. Don’t Nod has delivered multiple games starring unforgettable protagonists that I emotionally invested in. Unfortunately, the main characters in Banishers and the world around them never fully grabbed me.
In addition to your investigation skills and the power of deduction, the Banishers also handle ghostly disturbances through good old-fashioned combat. Most combat encounters boiled down to hacking and shooting away at enemies while dodging out of the way of incoming attacks. Despite some interesting spectral powers, there isn’t much that sets it apart from most action games. It’s perfectly competent, but it’s also monotonous and sometimes boring.
I also felt that the camera was a tad bit too zoomed in during combat, making it easy to disorient myself for a second or two. This issue worsened when managing a crowd of enemies, as I frantically whipped the camera around while locking onto various enemies.
As you continue your adventure, you’ll collect various gear and weapons that can be equipped to improve your defenses and combat prowess. While I’m not someone who likes to pay much attention to gear in a game, I thought it was cool that Banishers has separate attributes for defense against physical and spectral attacks, allowing me to build my characters to take on different enemy types.
Look good, feel good
It only took me a few hours to be deeply impressed by the facial technology in Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden. The characters look stunning, and the quality of their animations further immersed me in the game’s cinematic moments. This is even more impressive considering that it’s a narrative-heavy story, with plenty of shots of characters speaking at a table or standing around and conversing. It’s something Don’t Nod has continuously improved on in each of its games.
This extends to the game’s overall visual quality and art style. The world of New Eden is so distinct from any world the studio has created, and you can tell a lot of work went into giving it a unique identity. The North American wilds are bleak, packed with dying trees, obscuring fog, and architecture from a bygone era. Even when nothing was happening, I found the time to just stop, spin my camera around a couple of times, and take in the environment.
Who you gonna call?
Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is another fascinating new universe from Don’t Nod Entertainment. The studio’s narrative and character design shine through several times throughout the story, but it wasn’t as consistent or compelling as I hoped. The combat was generic and harmless but eventually grew tiresome as it felt like a means to reach the next story beat. Still, Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is a gorgeous game with plenty of meat on its bones, and I hope it’s not the last we see of this world.
This review is based on a Steam code provided by the publisher. Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden launches on February 13, 2024, for PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.
Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden
- Engaging investigation mechanics
- Each NPC feels distinct
- Stunning visuals
- Impressive animations and art style
- Overall narrative doesn't hit Don't Nod's high bar
- Combat is monotonous
- Camera can be clunky at times
Donovan Erskine posted a new article, Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden review: 17th-century ghostbusting
I was looking forward to this, but it's like another Vampyre game? Meh..