Growing up, I solely played video games that I could spend hundreds of hours on, spending more time on side quests than the main story itself. When I saw Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden, I knew it was my time to really jump back in and fall in love with RPG gaming, though I was afraid I would be let down. Thankfully, I was blown away by what DON’T NOD has created, and I genuinely look forward to beating Banishers over and over again.
I’m honestly so happy with Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden that I’m not sure where to start, but the game begins with a story you’re immediately drawn to, so it seems as good a place as any. You are in the year 1695 and play as a couple, Red Mac Raith and Antea Duarte. She is a Banisher, and he is her apprentice, and they are deeply in love.
DON’T NOD brings a beautiful love story without any real backstory or information. Small details in how the characters look at each other, behave, and talk to one another do wonders to display their connection. Russ Bain and Amaka Okafor tell a love story simply with their playful banter, but even the tone in something as small as “Missed me?”, “Always.” makes you feel connected to these characters.
But what is even more compelling is the way DON’T NOD breaks your heart. Right out the gate, Antea dies to save Red while fighting Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden’s big bad, the Nightmare. And no, this isn’t a spoiler, I promise! Antea comes back as a ghost to fight alongside Red to defeat the Nightmare, and they need to decide if they will try to resurrect her or help her ascend.
The two move through the world, solving Haunting Cases, which makes me feel like Sherlock Holmes. These are essentially just side quests where someone is haunted, and you need to sort out why or how. This could mean a good person, a bad person, or a ghost involved. From here, you can decide to banish the ghost, condemn them, ascend them, or blame the human, ultimately killing them.
This is where DON’T NOD masters the art of making players question their morality. You choose to make an oath to ascend or resurrect Antea. To resurrect her, you need to take as many human lives as possible. Throughout Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden, they introduce stories that get the player invested and don’t shy away from complex topics.
The Haunting Cases alone cover topics like domestic abuse, murder, cannibalism, Queer issues and torture, and believe me, you won’t be sure where you stand on each one after DON’T NOD gets their hands on them. You could be forced to kill innocent people if you choose to resurrect your true love, and there are times you really, really don’t want to let the ghosts win.
Each of these cases also affects the story in some way. Whether it is who you need to talk to later in the game, what ending you get (there are five in total), or even which shopkeepers love or hate you, you will feel the weight of your choices.
From here, Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden has some interesting gameplay mechanics to make you feel the bond between Red and Antea. You fight as both characters, swapping between them with Y. Red uses melee and ranged combat, and Antea works more with hand-to-hand and spell combat. I’ve played a lot of games where you control more than one character, but not that do it quite like this.
The mechanics in play feature a pretty extensive skill tree, where you have points to spend on Red’s skills or Essence (which you get from Haunting Cases) to spend on Antea’s. I can’t say that there is a huge variety of skills. There are multiple trees, and most of the skills within a tree vary between cause and effect (give more points but take more damage), assistance in filling up bars faster, or Perfect Switches.
Perfect Switches are something I just couldn’t get the hang of. Essentially, if you swap to Antea or Red at just the right moment, you will trigger an effect that can do extra damage, ignore resistance, etc. Unfortunately, I felt controls were a bit too clunky for me to swap at just the right moments.
I found myself fighting more with Antea than Red once she began to gain some power. Red’s melee skills lock in if you press an attack too many times, and you get stuck in a sequence. I ended up dying because I button-mashed a bit too hard, and the game was still trying to complete the moves while I was already pressing A to heal. I know that button mashing is a personal issue, but I never felt the need to do that with Antea. Something about Red just didn’t feel as smooth.
Further into the game, you gain skills like Fusion, where Antea bonds with Red and becomes imbued with his weapons for an ultimate takedown. She moved fast and furiously, and I quickly fell in love with the skill. It needs to be powered up first, but when you can unleash it, everything dies pretty fast. Initially, I thought combat would be oversimplified and unsatisfying, but now I’m itching to get back and see what I can do.
But all of that only scratches the surface of Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden. I got spooky vibes from the game early on, which is expected with ghosts and witchcraft so heavily involved. Dark corridors, climbing into small holes, eerie mist, and the subject matter itself are enough to create suspense. It wasn’t until one of the last bosses that anyone would believe this game could be horror. All I’ll say is the Puppeteer and leave it at that. That being said, the other boss who is equal to this reminded me of Jello, which took some of the spookiness out of it.
DON’T NOD really brings the universe of Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden to life with its stunning scenery. I found myself stopping to hop into Photo Mode to just look around often. Waterfalls, mines, snow, rain, flies, you name it; everything looks gorgeous. Even Red and Antea themselves are brilliant-looking.
My one issue was with NPCs in the game; both characters have a main role in the story, and some you interact with minimally. It felt like so much detail went into our lovers, but these other characters look like afterthoughts often. Mouth movements can be awkward, and occasionally, I was getting Fable vibes from back in 2010.
My hands-down favorite part of Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden was the menu. I know, the strangest thing you’ll read in a review all year. The menu system where you inspect and update your gear, fast travel, and level up is a work of art. When you choose a piece of Red’s gear, he moves to the forefront of the menu so you can get a better look. When you switch to Antea, they swap places, but it’s such a beautiful, fluid movement. DON’T NOD put thought into it, rather than just another plain menu.
The same can be said for entering and leaving the menu. They move to sit together by the fire, staring lovingly at each other, creating a gorgeous silhouette. When you leave the menu, one stands and helps the other up. Even when you rest to pass the time or refill your health, rather than a blank load screen, Red lays down, and Antea moves around the room watching him sleep since she is a ghost who doesn’t need rest herself. Every ounce of Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is purposeful and helps display Red and Antea’s love.
Once you reach the end of Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden, there is a “Point of No Return” screen. If you are curious about endings, I highly recommend you save here. There are also two options to change your oath throughout Banishers, and I suggest you create saves there, too. Just committing to a path does not mean you’ll succeed, so you may need to go back and change some things around—I know I do.
So what happens after you beat Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden? Nothing. Game over. If you want to play more, you need to make sure you don’t go past that Point of No Return or get ready for another playthrough. As I said, there are five total main endings and plenty of other choices that will change the gameplay, so there is definitely replay value here.
Personally, I got an ending, have gone back to the Point of No Return, plan to make some changes, get a second ending, and then start all over again. I went the route of resurrection, and without spoiling anything, there are things I need to redo. There are Haunting Cases all over, a chunk of the map I have yet to explore, and plenty of collectibles across New Eden.
There are also Nests across the map that you interact with to start a battle. Once you complete these, you gain a permanent boost to your attributes. I beat the game at level 19, but I am curious to see how powerful I can get after finishing all side quests, Nests, and whatever else I can find—I aim to 100% Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden. I am just not sure which playthrough I want fully commit to…yet.
Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is an absolutely stunning game with a story that not only grips you but forces you to look deeper and make difficult decisions. Though I can’t speak to every ending, I don’t doubt that DON’T NOD put careful consideration into each one, and I am very much looking forward to finishing this story in every way I can. Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is an easy recommendation to anyone who values beautiful graphics, a powerful story, and endless hours of gameplay.
Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden Review – Your Morals Will Be Challenged
Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is an easy recommend to anyone who values beautiful graphics, a powerful story, and endless hours of gameplay.
A story that will grip you, beginning to end.
Incredible replay value.
NPCs could use some love.
Fighting with Red feels clunky.