Released (on Steam): 31 Aug, 2017
Genres: Action, Adventure, Indie
Developer: Armitage Games
Publisher: Armitage Games
Steam Price: £7.19
Bannerman is a gritty, dark and atmospheric medieval action-adventure with challenging skill-based combat inspired by historical swordsmanship.
You play as a man-at-arms who is left for dead following a terrible battle. On awakening you discover your lord's banner has been lost. Bound in service to your lord, you must now travel across a war-torn medieval land in pursuit.
With a sinister atmosphere, bleak narrative and punishing combat, Bannerman explores the dark side of medieval fantasy. You are not a valiant questing hero, and there are no knights in shining armour to be found in this world.
Completion: Played through once. Replayed last section for different ending.
Playtime at Review: 4.6 hours
Total Playtime: 4.6 hours
Achievements at Review: 15/17 (88%)
My rating: 7.0/10
Graphics, music, characters, and story combine to create an awesomely miserable setting!
Combat is challenging but not impossible or too frustrating.
Movements are slow, especially going through doors.
Checkpoints are pointlessly set to the start of the map.
Bannerman is a pretty dark, 2D side-scrolling, souls-lite styled game, set in a medieval world. You play as a Bannerman (shock), AKA a Standard-bearer, venturing through the harsh, bleak world to reclaim the banner you lost in battle. That’s for the main game, anyway. There’s also a “Gauntlet” mode, which is more like an arena battle, facing you against multiple different enemies, one after the other. There’s a Steam leaderboard accompanying this mode to see who can clear the Gauntlet in the fastest time (I’m waaaay down near bottom of the board).
One of the main things that attracted me to Bannerman to begin with was the graphical style. Fortunately, I wasn’t disappointed when it came to playing. The graphics were well suited to creating the dark, depressing settings that persisted throughout the game. The music, created with various folk instruments, was also well suited in portraying the gloomy atmosphere as you progress on your quest.
The Bannerman story was pretty simple, but at the same time, it didn’t need to be anything complex for this kind or length of game. It’s broken down into days, which you can think of as levels or chapters. You get the chance to speak to a few different characters throughout the game, several of which are optional interactions, but I would recommend talking to them. It’s worth it for the few seconds of reading it takes. There is a small amount of exploration involved, along with very basic puzzles (generally involving levers), but it’s nothing to get too excited about if that’s what you’re looking for in a game. You can also find new perks on your adventures, each time being given an option between two improvements, such as extra arrows for the bow or better durability on the shield. Again, nothing to get too excited about.
Bannerman is a pretty slow-paced and somewhat difficult game, relying on well-timed attacks, blocks, and dodges to defeat your enemies. Different enemies will require different tactics to defeat, be it rushing them, changing stances, drawing back a little, etc. While the majority of battles are essentially duels, there are a few that pitch you against a couple of enemies at the same time (generally melee and ranged), creating a greater challenge. At the end of some of the levels you’ll encounter bosses for even more of a challenge. You’ll occasionally find temporary equipment in the form of armour, bow and arrows, and a shield, to assist you in upcoming battles too. Armour is always useful, at least if you’re a bad as I am, but the usefulness of the bow and shield depends highly on the enemies you’re against, and how well you decide your weapons.
I’m not a big fan of Souls-like/lite games, mainly because I don’t enjoy doing the same thing over and over again. I’m a terrible gamer though, which makes this inevitable. Fortunately, Bannerman has a form of checkpoint system, despite it being an incredibly annoying one. I understand they’re trying to make the game seem more difficult, but if you die against the boss at the end of the level, you start the entire level again. There is a checkpoint system if you unlock it prior to the boss, but it’s a simple shortcut from the beginning of the level to the end and really serves little purpose other than to have you spend more time in the game for no apparent reason, and when the movements are so slow (particularly going through doorways) it starts to detract from the rest of the game. It goes from challenging to boring.
I enjoyed Bannerman for the most part, and the battles, while somewhat challenging, were pretty fun to overcome. The story, graphics, and music all complemented one another really well, and the dark, miserable setting was great (miserable is always great!). There are some big annoyances with slow actions and poorly placed checkpoints, but I still enjoyed playing it!
Posted on 13-01-2021