The French video games sector has not said its last word. After a year 2023 rich in excellent games, the studios are piling up again, and in particular Don’t Nod accompanied by Focus Entertainment. This January 13, players will be able to discover Banishers: Ghosts of New Edenan action adventure game with a strong character that is based on the notion of duality and spirituality.
We embark on a title with a strong narrative, which promises us intense gaming sessions with two characters that we play in turns. This is not the first proposal of its kind since the marketing of the last generation of consoles, but will the production of Don’t Nod succeed in the challenge of immersion? The answer in this test of Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden.
Our configuration for this test:
- Console: PS5
- Playing time: 12 hours
Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden begins with a single proposition. After being contacted by one of their friends, two banishers set off towards the town of New Eden, in the first American colonies populated by British Puritans. Their names are Red mc Raith and Antea Duarte, a couple united by their profession. But it turns out that their destiny will change once there, and that the curse was perhaps too strong to be defeated.
Antea bears the brunt of the supernatural activity that reigns in New Eden, and Red Mac Raith finds himself alone to eliminate the threat. This was without taking into account the fact that the banisher can now contact the ghost of his companion and thus take advantage of his position between the world of the living and that of the dead. This characteristic will therefore guide the entire progression of our heroes in a journey which promises to be more complex than we thought.
The city of New Eden and the region surrounding it are inhabited by spirits of all kinds who torment the population. Don’t Nod only half surprises us by offering us a deep and moral narrativeworthy of a horror film. Banishers remains an adventure game, which tends to tickle the realm of horror without ever really taking part in it. The game deals with themes as classic as star-crossed love and ghost stories, adding a dimension always specific to the atmosphere of the game.
Buy Banishers Ghosts of new Eden
Pace and gameplay
Banishers is above all a game based on the rhythm of duality. Being able to control two characters at any time requires the player to know when to make changes. That’s good, each of the two heroes has different skills allowing them to switch naturally throughout the adventure. In terms of space, each character finds their place in the narration.
If we look at the purely practical side, the studio succeeds in make transitions extremely smooth and consistent. But in terms of gameplay possibilities, we would have liked slightly more diversity. Ultimately, the differences are less in combat. The two characters contribute their contribution, and specialize more or less on a specific type of enemy, but the feeling is weak.
These are also our favorite moments in the game. Although there is little challenge in taking one or the other, the opponents are not devoid of challenge. You often have to pay attention to your positioning during clashes, because it is the key to victory. The further we advance in the game, the more patience is required. However, we regret the aiming being a little too subjective in combat, instead of a wider angle which would offer better strategic vision.
As you level up, you can also unlock skills, split unevenly between Red and Antea. The system of choice between two options, interchangeable at any time, is well done but sometimes not interesting enough to be adapted. We often stick to our first choice and simply upgrade our equipment to keep up. This can all be done via save points. This is almost our only interaction with the menus of Banishers which has a much more organic rhythm.
Looking for the culprit
Much of the narrative evolves directly within the gameplay. The game’s environment is large, sometimes complex, and could be conducive to exploration. Surprisingly, the studio doesn’t really push this aspect. Resources are few, and collectibles almost non-existent. There are only a few destructible elements (apart from the obligatory paths) and we are not necessarily free in our movements. Banishers marks his adventure with a lot of invisible walls, which is rather a shame.
We would have really liked to be able to fully enjoy the world of New Eden. Although sinister, it is visually accomplished. The settings seem natural in their composition, as if nothing was guided, hence the confusion when we realize the impossibility of going where we want. Everything is pleasing to the eye, effects, animations and even interfaces which are of rare fluidity. The sound design ultimately supports this almost perfect immersion.
The latter is reinforced by the configuration of the quests, or rather investigations. Each case encountered by banners has a unique character. The game features a rather advanced moral system that will change the course of your adventure at certain key moments. A contract binds Red to Antea and it is up to you to choose the terms, but also to choose whether you will respect it or not. Even in the dialogues with the characters, a few options are possible.
What we love about Banishers is that the studio gives us the freedom to make bad choices. When it comes to invocations, the right solution is not imposed and this forces us to think intelligently. This logic is also felt in the story. The title invites us to have compassion for both the living and the dead.
A shock duo
You will have understood, the real strength of the game is the duo who carry it. The story is brought to life by two absolutely hypnotizing characters whose every word we listen to at all times. The strength of the studio lies in the mastery of its narration and proves it brilliantly, we become attached to Red and Antea little by little as to its characters in a film.
Technically speaking, everything is not perfect yet. The facial expressions and lip synchronization are not on point, but we readily forgive these clumsiness for two reasons. The first, we recall that it is an independent game which does not benefit from the highest budgets or the technique of the largest spheres of video games.
The second is that the dubbing largely makes up for the visual inexpressiveness. This aspect is very rarely emphasized, but in Banishers, Russ Bain (Red mac Raith) and Amaka Okafor (Antea Duarte) do a crazy job of interpretation which is felt at every moment. The musical composition punctuates our adventure with delight (and sometimes fear). It is very present to accompany the exploration, but also the dialogues, which is rare enough to notice it.
We would like to say that it is a nugget as we are doing more, but the truth is that French studios, especially those which publish under the aegis of Focus Entertainment, are doing more and more. And yet, Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden has this authenticity that makes the gaming experience truly unique, even with rather simplistic gameplay. It has the same character halfway between independent and AAA as A Plague Talewhile succeeding where the other had failed: providing us with freedom and a lore based on morality, with accomplished finishes.
Buy Banishers Ghosts of new Eden
Subscribe to Journal du Geek
🟣 To not miss any news on the Journal du Geek, subscribe on Google News. And if you love us, we have a newsletter every morning.