Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden review

The "Love, Death and Sacrifice" scheme had great potential, but the developers failed to implement it to the fullest extent

By: Vladyslav Nuzhnov | 12.02.2024, 19:00

I support the studios' desire to experiment rather than stand still. And that's why I have a soft spot for Don't Nod, which made Rember Me about memory hunters in Neo-Paris, and interactive cinema Life is Strange about teenagers with superpowers, and their latest project Jusant about a mountain climber is still in my head. So I follow the games of this studio all the time, and Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden, which gg received for review, was no exception.



This time, we have an open-world action RPG about Antea Duarte and Red mac Raith, who love each other and also have a contract to fight ghosts. However, during the execution of one of the contracts, Antea herself becomes a ghost, and now the characters are going to have an unplanned journey with moral dilemmas that will determine the ending of the story. And it all takes place in the forests of North America, where ghosts roam everywhere and have to be killed using cold steel and firearms and Anthea's new abilities. And while the developers have managed to cope with the gameplay and atmosphere, the story leaves much to be desired. Unfortunately, the authors failed to create a dramatic love story, and this fact makes me the most sad, because this is what I expected from the game in the first place.

3 reasons to buy Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden

  • You are the most ardent fan of Don't Nod studio
  • You like games with a lot of nature
  • An interesting combat system with the use of abilities and weapons of two heroes at once

2 reasons not to buy Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden

  • The authors failed to fully reveal the love story, which makes you lose the desire to actively follow the events
  • Sometimes there are problems with optimization in the game

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden

How we evaluate games

Graphics and sound
Meeting expectations
Willingness to recommend
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What we learned after reviewing Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden

Before the release of Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden looked interesting before its release, because we added it to our list of the most anticipated games of 2024 for a reason. And this time I want to compare the game to a football match. Yes, it wasn't supposed to be the Champions League final, but we were potentially in for an interesting match. And as much as we didn't want to admit it, Don't Nod, having the opportunity to score beautiful goals, hit the post several times.

In terms of gameplay, the goal was a good one. After all, the gameplay is just up to the level of an AA game. Yes, there are a couple of nuances, but the vast majority of the time it was a pleasure to play. However, my biggest pain is the storyline. Recently, we don't often see games where the main theme is the love of two adults. I really wanted to watch the story of characters who love each other, but in fact their love is dead, but there is still one last journey ahead that will put (or not) an end to it all. In terms of plot, the game lacked emotional dialogues, dramatic scenes, and chemistry between people who have been in love for a long time. The aforementioned elements are still there, but they are catastrophically small for a game I spent 25 hours on. So if you were looking for a strong tragic love story from Banishers in the first place, I have bad news for you.

However, if you don't care much about the plot and just want a game to run around in a fairy forest, kill ghosts, and explore the world, then Don't Nod will have something to offer.

The story: lost potential

Anthea Duarte and Red Poppy Wright are a couple who also fight ghosts. They arrive in New Eden because the city and the region around it are severely affected by otherworldly forces, so our heroes are offered a contract to break the curse and help people.

At first, the heroes do relatively well, but even the best ghostbusters can fail. This is what happened in New Eden, when one of the ghosts managed to mess with the couple's heads, and during the battle, Anthea died and Red went to the seabed.

However, the man was rescued, but the pain of losing his loved one affects him too much. But soon he begins to hear Anthea and even see her silhouette, and in an instant the hero finds her, but as a ghost. So the girl became the one whom the hunters promised to destroy, but of course this time Red makes an exception to the rule.

Now the heroes have a long way to go to return to New Eden to retrieve Anthea's body and make one of two decisions: to let the girl go to the spirit world or to resurrect her.

And no matter how interesting everything was at the beginning, the game unfortunately failed in terms of plot. The biggest problem is that after a few hours, you don't feel that the main characters love each other at all. Either I have a wrong perception of romantic relationships, or they really behave as if they met a month ago and kissed only a few times.

The story of two people who have actually lost each other but have to pass the final test had every chance of becoming dramatic and evoking a different range of emotions. But somewhere in the middle of the game, I was a little indifferent to their relationship. There were few interesting dialogues, misunderstandings, sadness, or even banal conversations about feelings between them. There was no sense of relationship development between them, and that's what I wanted to see the most. Of course, there were plenty of interesting moments in this story, especially towards the end, but again, it's not enough for a 25-hour adventure. The situation could have been saved if the game had been a shortcut and more time had been devoted to the scenario rather than the world or gameplay, but nothing can be changed.

It is also important to note that during the passage you will have to decide the fate of the living and the dead. The ending of the story depends on these decisions, but it was emotionally difficult to make only the first two decisions. After that, you feel almost no attachment to either the main characters or those whose fate you have to decide (with a few exceptions), and there is no moral dilemma. But again, in theory, this is a very cool solution. The heroes have been killing ghosts all their lives, but now they have realised what it means to be a ghost, and not everything is so obvious in this world. But due to the lack of chemistry between the main characters, decisions are almost always made very easily.

So instead of an exciting and emotional love story, we got a journey of two companions who said "I love you" a couple of times, had a little quarrel, experienced a couple of epic moments, and... that's it. And knowing what kind of stories Don't Nod is capable of creating, it becomes even sadder. Although I thought that the gameplay might let me down, not the story, it was the other way round.

Gameplay: fight ghosts and explore the world (also with ghosts)

You'll have to fight a lot in the game, so let's talk about this aspect first. Our only enemies are different kinds of ghosts: from thin and weak to healthy ones that can send you to the save point in a few hits. To win, you need to use the entire arsenal, and find your own approach to some of them.

Most of all, you will have to play as Red. He has a sword, and later a gun will appear to eliminate enemies at a distance. Light and heavy attacks are available for the sword, as well as the ability to deflect a blow. The rifle, by the way, can also be used to hit enemies. It's very useful when you don't have time to reload and the enemy is already near you. So just hit him in the head with the buttstock, duck back, reload, and hit him again, but with a bullet.

But sometimes neither the sword nor the gun can help against enemies. And then you have to switch to Anthea, who has magical powers. She can simply punch with her fists, make a strong jerk, create an explosive wave, or "freeze" the enemy for a few seconds.

The most interesting thing about the combat system is that pressing a single button will not lead to anything. Sometimes, in games that also have an arsenal and abilities, it is enough to "press X to win". In Banishers, this won't work even on the medium difficulty level. You have to constantly analyse the battlefield and use everything you have.

Are you surrounded by a crowd of ghosts? You turn on Anthea's blast wave, the enemies are down, switch back to Red and run to finish them off. You've been beating the boss for a long time, and his health is almost non-existent? Then you need to find a weak spot to aim at with your gun. Are you trying to hit the enemy, but he keeps dodging bullets? Then you should put the gun down, wait for his attack, repel it in time, and launch a strong attack that will take half his health.

And thanks to such situations, it is almost always interesting to fight. It's in the battles that you can feel the chemistry between the characters, because they can't fight without each other.

The only negative thing I can think of is that I would like to see more flexibility in the battles. Sometimes the fights are a bit "wooden", especially when you play as Red, although he is not some old man, and he jumps properly during some combinations, so if the authors worked a little harder on the choreography, it would be great. Otherwise, Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden has a good combat system for an AA game.

How to become a better hunter?

What's a role-playing game without leveling up? So, Banishers has it as well. We can improve our items or abilities. This is done only at special campfires, which will also help you rest and quickly move to another campfire to save time.

There are two types of items: for Red and Anthea. The first one has armour, a sword, a gun, and a flask that restores health. Anthea has various accessories, such as rings or necklaces, that improve her magical abilities. All these things are improved with the help of resources that are scattered around the world, given for completing tasks or bought from merchants. However, sometimes, in addition to resources, you can also find new items or currency for which you can buy the same resources or items.

I would like to praise the developers for the fact that the game does not require you to spend hours collecting resources to improve things. I did not explore the entire map and did not complete all the additional tasks, but at the same time, half of the things were improved to the maximum level.

You can also upgrade abilities for both Red and Anthea. Abilities are divided into several sections, and each section has its own branches. But you cannot activate two abilities in the same branch, only one. So you have to think about which ability you need more and which one you don't. It's quite an interesting idea, because you can't just mindlessly unlock new skills and that's it. Everything needs to be skilfully combined, and I would like to see more of this in games. Also, most of the abilities are really useful, not filler. Almost everything I activated was used during battles.

For example, the skill when the gun automatically reloaded after Anthea's attack was a great help in some places. Or when, after a shot from a shotgun, the next attack becomes 50% stronger. So I didn't feel like I was wasting ability points on some pointless skill that I would use 1-2 times.

And if you understand how everything works in the game (you don't even need to have a 200 IQ) and combine your arsenal and abilities, then gameplay-wise, Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden can give you a good experience. Yes, it is by no means a God of War game. I've seen these two games compared to each other before. But we should also take into account the difference in budget, so for an AA game, we can say that Don't Nod coped with the gameplay construction with 4 points out of 5.

Compact game world

But the game does not end with battles and abilities, because we have an open world here. It is comparable in size to God of War 2018 to better explain its scale. The locations are not the largest, but there will be plenty to do for those who like to explore everything. There are 3-5 question marks everywhere, behind which there are chests, totems that increase the health level of heroes, ghost nests that need to be cleared, and portals to another dimension, where battles with enemies are also waiting. The latter are much stronger than in the normal world, but the reward is appropriate. And I personally like this concept, not when you have 1000 question marks and activities on the map and you don't know what to do.

You find yourself in a new location and you have 4 question marks? Great. 10-15 minutes and almost all of them have already been completed. Just keep in mind that some areas of the game will be closed and you can return only when Anthea unlocks new abilities. But even so, I cleared a large part of the map without straining at all. I just looked everywhere I could and looked at the map to check where the new point of interest was.

You won't find anything ultra mega interesting in the game world, but at the same time, it doesn't get boring to explore due to its compactness and lack of oversaturation with various junk. However, given the fact that the plot doesn't fall out of the sky, it would have been better to have a corridor game with a more developed plot.

Additional tasks

Finally, it is worth mentioning additional tasks. There aren't many of them, but most of them are as template-like as possible and are created using the "fetch and give" formula, so I won't dwell on it.

But there are also cases involving ghosts that need to be investigated. For example, we meet a man in the forest who says he hasn't seen his friend for a long time. But it immediately becomes clear that this man is hiding something. We send him to the approximate place of his friend's disappearance and find his corpse. We perform a ritual near him that evokes memories associated with the person, and we see that the man we met in the forest killed his friend and, because of hunger, simply began to eat him to survive.

Having found all the evidence and understood the situation, we return to the person and have a dialogue with him, where the whole truth comes to the surface. After that, we have to make a choice - to kill the man or to let the ghost's soul go, or vice versa, to drive him into suffering. And it is these choices that primarily determine Anthea's fate. The murders and suffering of others will bring her beloved back to life, but a pardon, on the contrary, will help Anthea herself to finally get peace.

Although some investigations are not interesting, there were some where I sat for several minutes trying to make a decision, because each character has committed enough sins. So it would be possible to reduce the number of investigations a bit and make sure that absolutely every case makes you think hard about whether you did the right thing.

The technical side of New Eden

I played the game on PlayStation 5, and Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden fails to maintain a stable 60 frames per second. And I can't explain how it works, but during the battle with enemies, where there are many objects on the screen, nothing freezes. But when walking through the forest, where there is no one at all, there is a significant loss of frames. It would be better to fix this before the release, because no one likes to watch the frame rate jump back and forth from time to time. But I didn't encounter any bugs, and the game never crashed.

Visuals are full of nature

Remember that this is an AA game, and you shouldn't expect Cyberpunk-level graphics, but at the same time, I liked the visuals of the game. The authors have worked on small details, such as wet clothes after rain, footprints in the mud, or grass that is being swayed by the wind. Yes, we have seen all this more than once, so the visual component attracts attention most of all with something else - locations. I adore forests, mountains, and nature in general, and there is plenty of that in the game. So sometimes during the passage, I would forget about everything and wander around the region. On our way, we meet settlements, lakes, mountains, fields after bloody battles, broken ships, abandoned houses, caves, waterfalls, and when you enter a dense forest, you start walking slowly and enjoying nature. So, yes, nature in games is my Achilles' heel, and that's why I fell in love with the atmosphere of Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden, because along with the beauty of the region, mysticism awaits you everywhere, which also adds an incentive to explore the area.

The soundtrack plays on the atmosphere

The sounds in the game are made to a good standard. All the characters are well voiced, birds singing or other sounds that are typical of the area are constantly present in the forest, and the sounds of tools and people talking in the settlements also affect the atmosphere. The soundtrack in the game is not bad, I can't say that I remember it, but all the songs sound at the right time and are presented in different styles: from dynamic to more melancholic.

Five things you need to know about Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden

  • Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is an action RPG in the open world by Don't Nod.
  • The story tells about a love couple who hunt ghosts
  • The events take place in the forests of North America in the 17th century
  • Thanks to different abilities and the ability to play as two characters, the combat system is one of the strongest elements of the game
  • Most of all, the game suffers from a love story that is not fully revealed
Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden
Genre. Action RPG
Platforms PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series
Number of players Single player
Developer Don't Nod
Publisher Focus Enetertainment
Time to complete 20-30 hours
Release date 13 February 2024

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The editorial team thanks the publisher Focus Entertainment for kindly providing the game for review