Banishers Ghosts of New Eden Review — Of Love, Loss, and Sacrifice

A grim ghost-hunting story filled with moral decisions that focus on the question of what we would sacrifice for a partner we love.

a bearded man in rugged clothing with rune markings on his hands lovingly clasps the hands of a transparent spectral woman with dreads
Image via DON'T NOD
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It’s an exciting era for story-focused games with interactive narrative choices. Just look at GOTY winners and runner-ups from the past two years. One of the first major projects to fill both of those criteria in 2024 is Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden.

Don’t Nod’s Vampyre is a superb title with great dialogue, acting, and world-building. It puts tough yet immersive moral decisions in our hands, and I’m happy to report many of these traits are in Banishers Ghosts of New Eden, too. Where Vampyr is one of the best Nosferatu-narrative video games I’ve played, Banishers is a satisfying and immersive ghost-hunter experience. That said, while many loved Vampyr’s story, most of the constructive criticism arose from the game’s lackluster combat system. Is that the case here, too?

Banishers Ghosts of New Eden Review: Story and Setting

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Banishers shares a lot with Vampyre in terms of writing quality and voice acting. The game is even loosely inspired by many similar elements in the two recent God of War games. That said, it’s also its own experience with unique mechanics and choices. It’s a ghost-hunting tale grounded in love and sacrifice.

The main premise is that the two Banisher lovers, Red and Antea, arrive at New Eden, a fictional location in 17th Century North America. They’re here to solve a Haunting Case. These Haunting Cases are the game’s version of quests. Various New Eden settlers are haunted by lovers, friends, acquaintances, enemies, and in this case, a much more horrifying force. While the duo are experienced, something goes terribly wrong, and a promise with drastic consequences pushes the story forward.

a woman and a man in adventuring clothing stare at each other with expectation
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You control both Red, an experienced soldier outfitted with various gear options, in the material realm and Antea, a veteran master of the supernatural, in the spirit realm. You make some sacrifices along the way, where the journey might change you both.

For me, Banishers‘ dual perspective narrative, in which love and loss appear in equal measure, makes for meaningful narrative interaction. The relationship between the two main characters is the most interesting element in the game. I could see that DON’T NOD put a lot of work into both dialogue and non-dialogue interactions, making the Banishers relatable and approachable.

Banishers Ghosts of New Eden Gameplay: Haunting Cases and Combat

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The Haunting Case system is well-designed and inspired by detective novels. You gather evidence and figure out the intent and background of both the haunted settler and their ghost. It’s satisfying to unearth a mystery and potentially discover that the actual quest-giving settler isn’t always the victim. Sometimes, the ghost haunting them isn’t always the villain.

Each case also ends with an agency-driven choice, where you can sacrifice the settler(s) if you deem them guilty. On the other hand, you can exorcise the ghost(s) in both a peaceful and violent way depending on your judgment. This combination of engaging characters, interactive story junctions, and multiple endings is the best part of Banishers.

The problem is that Banishers‘ combat system isn’t great. I faced many of the same problems I had with Vampyr in the Banishers. I generally prefer challenging fights in my RPGs, so I started the game on Hard, the fourth difficulty out of five. Many enemies are largely bullet-sponges that offer little mechanical variety. There are those with shields or those that have resistance to specific types of corporeal or incorporeal damage. Regular elites, mini-bosses, and bosses are bags of hit points that you just wail on in rotations, using one optimal combo before retreating and repeating it all.

Banishers Ghosts of New Eden Skill Trees and Talents

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The skill tree promotes other ways to approach combat. You have parries, manifestations (cooldown-based spell-like abilities), and Switch Attacks, where you rapidly switch from Red to Antea. However, these aren’t usually as effective as just landing a light-attack combo with passive damage-boosting talents and then dodging away. Active meaningful talents are few and far between. Most only provide minor damage boosts outside of talents, which I admit offer alternative ways to use the core high-damage Banish attack.

Granted, the combat system has its fun moments. Weaving together different attacks, like shooting with a rifle, then switching to an Antea attack to reload it instantly, doing a manifestation, and then switching back to Red to shoot and slice, is great fun. I was even pleasantly surprised with some gear options later on that had more active combat abilities. However, most of the time, I felt like I was fighting the same enemies that didn’t have much move variety.

For those who like gritty combat, fights and the RPG progression system in general are just a bit bloated. More unique enemies and interesting elite versions would go a long way to adding combat variety, and new attacks (not bigger health bars), would make different difficulties feel unique. Overall, the combat can be fun once you step into the late game and get more manifestations and tools to approach each fight. It just takes a while to get rolling and you need to suffer some sluggish fights to experience engaging encounters.

Is Banishers Ghosts of New Eden Worth it?

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Pros

  • An incredible story about love and loss, sacrifice and staying true to your choices.
  • A commendable choice system with several layers of narrative decision making.
  • Gorgeous visuals in terms of both landscapes and effects.
  • Great acting.
  • The ability to respec for free and experiment with different skills easily.
  • Active and meaningful switching between characters throughout exploration and combat.

Cons

  • Occasionally sluggish combat.
  • Bullet-spongy enemies
  • Too easy on lower difficulties.
  • Some skill effects are too passive.
  • Not enough enemy variety.

Despite some combat issues, Banishers Ghosts of New Eden is an engaging game. That’s especially true for those who want an immersive ghost story set in an alternate reality 17th Century North American world. There’s plenty of worldbuilding, from item descriptions and NPC interactions. Almost every NPC you can talk to in hubs has something interesting to say. Haunting Cases, too, are plenty and directly increase the strength of both characters through skill points. They also provide that tough moral narrative choices.

Without a doubt, the best part is seeing the couple’s interactions and how they develop and react to your decision-making. Selflessness or selfishness in the act of love. Ultimately, Banishers Ghosts of New Eden satisfied my Vampyr expectations, which is a compliment in and of itself.

[Note: Don’t Nod provided the copy of Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden used for this review.]

a bearded man in rugged clothing with rune markings on his hands lovingly clasps the hands of a transparent spectral woman with dreads
Image via DON'T NOD
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Banishers Ghosts of New Eden Review — Of Love, Loss, and Sacrifice

A grim ghost-hunting story filled with moral decisions that focus on the question of what we would sacrifice for a partner we love.

What Our Ratings Mean

About the author

Gordan Perisic

From playing RPGs and dungeon mastering for his D&D group to reading novels and scribbling about his fantasy setting, Gordan is a full-time nerd and devoted writer for GameSkinny. He loves to overshare and discuss literature, music, animation, and trees with fellow geeks. Also, he may or may not cook too much food for his friends. Cholesterol is one hell of a drug.