The Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden embargo lifted overnight, and reviews for DON’T NOD’s newest title are so far mostly positive. Some critics likened it to the studio’s previous title, Vampyr, in meeting their expectations – not a surprise given it’s been described as a “spiritual successor.” Others felt that the developer’s signature storytelling fell just short of the mark thanks to some pacing issues and not-so-subtle hand-holding while solving cases. Overall, the action RPG has been described as a story with deeply impactful writing and choices that will leave the player thinking about hatred, justice, and grief in a whole new light.
Kotaku Austalia’s own review of Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden by James Wood describes a complicated title that “while overstuffed with some pretty perfunctory systems and the occasional bit of odd pacing around exploration, rises above thanks to its profoundly impactful narrative work and worldbuilding.” James did find a “late-game rug pull for the ages” to be one of its drawbacks (depending on your narrative choices) and also discussed the issues of some more “clumsy” aspects of exploring the world of New Eden, but overall found it to be filled with “brilliant DON’T NOD storytelling” and great performances from Amaka Okafor and Russ Bain as Antea and Red respectively. You can read the full review here.
On Metacritic, Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden reviews sit just within the Generally Favourable Category, reporting aggregate scores of 78 for PlayStation 5 and 79 for PC and Xbox respectively. It’s worth noting that while PS5 scores for the game sit just one point lower, a majority of the reviews come from this platform. OpenCritic scores sit slightly higher at 82 based on 58 reviews.
Let’s take a look at what the critics thought from here in Australia and around the world.
Press Start Australia’s James Berich gave it a 9.5 in their review, saying, “Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is well beyond anything Don’t Nod has ever done. It successfully merges their renowned knack for solid characters and great stories, engaging and enjoyable combat and a unique setting to create an experience like no other. It’s incredibly fun and easily the studio’s most ambitious game so far. It doesn’t get much better than this.”
GamesHub gave the game four stars, saying, “From folk horror to Scottish brogues, Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden has a lot to offer, and I’m definitely going to dive back in to its deeply haunted map soon to try some of the alternative choices.”
Checkpoint Gaming awarded it 8 out of 10, and said “Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden heavily leans into the premise of challenging decisions with dramatic consequences, and manages to pull off an emotional and haunting love story where those choices do feel like they truly matter. Red and Antea feel like fully-fleshed out, interesting characters, forever linked to one another but struggling to let go. New Eden is full of communities plagued by supernatural creatures and dark secrets that make each of them intriguing to explore. An over-reliance on combat and a little too much hand-holding when it comes to solving cases is disappointing, but Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden can still be chalked up as yet another storytelling triumph for DON’T NOD. Life for the living. Death for the dead.”
Stevivor scored it 7.5, with Steve Wright noting frame rate drops and an overall “samey” map with a multitude of gaps in walls Red must squeeze through, but overall said “these little bothers don’t matter in the end, as Banishers‘ rough edges are easily compensated by its charm. I had a ball meeting the inhabitants of New Eden and making judgements accordingly. I reckon you will too.”
Player 2 gave it an A, and said, ”Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is a hauntingly beautiful tale of love and loss that will remain in your mind long after you play it. Once again, Don’t Nod have proven that they are masters of storytelling.”
The rest of the world
Dexerto gave the game 4 stars, saying “Banishers isn’t going to appeal to those who demand continuous action and top-tier combat. The fact is, there are just so many games that do hacking, slashing, and shooting so much better. Banishers is for those who want to be told a scary story and face some difficult moral choices along the way…It’s for those who relish the opportunity to play as a pair of seventeenth-century supernatural detectives and solve some spooky mysteries while coming up with a solution to an inevitable, and much more personal problem…Banishers felt like we were living in a Washington Irving story such as The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, so if you think this sounds like a vibe, then we’d highly recommend it.”
Push Square awarded it a lofty 8/10, and said, “Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden sees developer DON’T NOD reach a new development peak, as it marries an excellent narrative with engaging and enjoyable gameplay. Poor enemy variety and technical flaws hold it back from true greatness, but its excellent, story-focused side quests on the other side make a few drab combat encounters worth pushing through. The studio’s best game to date, Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is a new IP we hope is here to stay.”
ScreenRant scored it 4 stars, saying, “Overall, Banishers: Ghosts Of New Eden is an interesting and innovative action RPG with a few flaws here and there that stop it from being perfect. Its emotionally strong core story will keep players pushing to the end, while its key moral mechanic does have enough complexity to make players think about their decisions. It may have its clunky moments, but it’s nonetheless something beefy for players to sink their teeth into.”
GamesRadar+ gave the game a slightly more lukewarm review with 3 stars out of 5, and said, “Some gripping ghost stories justify gathering around Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden‘s campfire, but an open world full of routine skirmishes and mindless repetition might just scare you off again. As Dontnod’s longest game yet, Banishers underlines the value of a tighter focus.”
IGN’s Travis Northup scored it a 7/10, saying, “Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden’s memorable story and inspired investigative cases help carry it across its rougher patches,” while noting pacing issues and “wonky controls” along with “poor enemy variety” did drag it down.
TheGamer also took issue with repetitive enemies and the game length, scoring it 3 stars. In their review, they said, “For a game this long, the writing alone isn’t enough to carry it. As much as I adored Red and Antea’s journey, and Don’t Nods’ exploration on the depravity of the puritanical colonists, the constant onslaught of samey locations, wonky combat, and boring enemies really made getting through it a chore. It’s almost like this didn’t need to be an RPG – a 12-hour campaign could’ve covered much of the same ground and been far more impactful.”
Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s Alice Bell left Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden unscored, but said, “Don’t Nod’s new third-person goth-tragedy action-adventure RPG is full of swashbuckling ghost hunting, bound up in a story unironically about the power of love. Despite some repetition and busywork, it’s a great time.”
Polygon also didn’t provide a score, but in their review said, “Banishers is a spooky, loving tale about two incredible people. I cried a few times, both for these two characters I grew to adore, and for the very sad stories of others just trying to make it in a difficult world. While the combat is not spectacular, and the graphics are middling, everything else makes this a very special game. With superb writing, excellent performances, a clever central mechanic, and thoughtful, engaging stories, Banishers is Don’t Nod’s best game yet.”
PlayStation Universe gave it an 8, saying, “Despite some frustrating design choices, pacing and technical issues, there is a prevailing magnetic chemistry to Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden that is felt within its narrative and mirrored in its gameplay, in large part thanks to its two brilliantly written and acted protagonists. Its thoughtful dissection and unique exploration of grief ultimately resonated with me in a way that allowed me to forgive most of its other sins.”
Overall, it looks like Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden has divided some critics, but one thing they mostly seem to agree on is the masterful storytelling and worldbuilding that does the heavy lifting for some of the more clunky aspects of combat and gameplay.
Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is out today, so we’ll be sure to see more reviews from players now they’re getting the chance to jump into the story of Red and Antea. If you’re keen to jump in, we’re also currently running a competition to win a rare Collector’s Edition of the game here. Are you planning on playing it now it’s out? Let us know in the comments.
Image: DON’T NOD
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