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Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden Impressions: God of War with a supernatural twist

We've been hands-on with Don't Nod's action title, all during our time in Cologne for Gamescom 2023.

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I won't lie, I didn't really know what to expect from Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden before sitting in front of one of the powerful PC setups at Focus Entertainment's behind closed doors booth at Gamescom. I'd heard of the game and seen bits and pieces of gameplay, but it wasn't until after around five minutes of playtime that I realised that this should be one of my most anticipated games for the rest of 2023. I say this because if you like action-adventure games, loved the recent God of War titles, and have been longing for a title that lets you fight ghosts with a musket (as I have been), Banishers has all this and more.

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Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden puts players into the shoes of the dual-protagonist combo of Red mac Raith and Antea Duarte, all as they venture to the wilds of 17th century North America to help clear the land of spectres and ghouls so that colonisers can live in peace. It plays from a third-person perspective and leads you through a story across a variety of locations, and within a few minutes of playing, you will feel the influence that God of War has had on this title, as it flows in the same way and even has puzzle sections and exploration opportunities that resemble what Santa Monica Studio made incredibly popular.

But just because it has that clear inspiration from God of War, it doesn't mean that Banishers is a heartless clone. Quite the contrary actually. Here you don't play as just one character, with a second individual you can command at times. No, you can seamlessly switch between Red and Antea, who following Antea's untimely demise, are now bound to one another. This means that you can flick through Red's powerful arsenal of weapons, be it melee weapons or even a ranged musket, all to blast and cut down the monsters that inhabit the North American forests. Then, when you come across an enemy that resonates with spectral energy, Antea can be called into action to punch and weaken threats so that Red can finally dispel them. It's a very well managed system that keeps combat feeling engaging, which the variety of enemy types and collection of weapons you can choose also aid to elevate this too.

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Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden
Banishers: Ghosts of New EdenBanishers: Ghosts of New Eden

The exploration comes across as the same sort of deal as God of War. You mainly follow a core narrative, but there are times to undertake additional activities and to venture off the beaten path to slide between rocky crevices to discover crates filled with loot, and so forth. As I've said before, Banishers isn't looking to reinvent the formula that God of War really nailed, it's just looking to provide its own unique spin on it. And this can be found in the occasional puzzle section dotted throughout the game. You won't be tasked with manipulating the environment drastically, but you will need to use Antea's powers to create ways to progress around the wilderness and to reach new areas.

To add to this is the signature Don't Nod charm of deep dialogue offerings. Throughout the story, you'll meet a collection of NPCs who you can speak with to learn about New Eden and the people living there. The dialogue system is designed in such a way that you can get a direct answer out of an individual or speak to them for much longer if you enjoy that level of character development and world building. Each decision also has a weight to it, and you have to make choices that are meaningful and affect the story and the people you meet. In this vein, Banishers feels like a Don't Nod game through and through, even if the gameplay elsewhere tells a different story.

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It's clear that Don't Nod has a very defined vision for this game, as everything about Banishers that I got to experience felt truly well thought out and detailed. From supernatural mysteries to complex NPCs, all the way to challenging boss encounters that look to further add some clarity and depth to the world, this is a game that has a lot to be excited about. It's not ground-breaking in its design, and it reeks of familiarity in a gameplay sense, but the setting, story, and fluidity of the combat all combine to make Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden one of my most anticipated titles still set to launch in 2023.

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Banishers: Ghosts of New EdenScore

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden

REVIEW. Written by Ben Lyons

Don't Nod's latest effort sees the French company once again flexing its narrative skills in an adventure that feels very God of War-esque.



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