Test conditions: We completed the main story of Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden in its normal mode in 20 hours of play. This duration includes some additional activities carried out along the way. Note that we were only able to see one ending based on our actions in the game. The title was tested on PS5 mainly in its performance mode.
Dreadful curse in New Eden
Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden propose a particularly enticing story due to its context, set in 1695. You play as two banishers, Antea and Red. Our two heroes are sent to New Eden, a city hit hard by a mysterious curse. This is where they enter the scene, to investigate what is happening in this city and the surrounding area, affected by an evil deeper than it seems.
Without real surprise, the Dont'Nod studio still has a certain know-how in storytelling, which proves captivating from start to finish. First of all, there is this close relationship between Antea and Red who walks with the fire of God, and a few other characters who are very well developed. What's more, the title has the luxury of some interesting twists and turns.
All in a fairly dark story showing us a time not too far from the Salem witch trials, which says a lot about this unhealthy atmosphere that can sometimes emerge from the title. You will have understood, the overall writing is neat, although there remains a certain flatness around our main characters, to whom we have a hard time getting attached, while the development of their relationship over the course of the game takes place. feel like rare moments of emotion. What's more, we must emphasize the sometimes boring side of the story, having a choppy pace.
But that doesn't matter, the plot that DON'T NOD tells us is quite good, with what's more different choices with consequences that we will have to make throughout our supernatural journey. You will be forced, whether in main quests or in cases of haunting, has make a choice between blaming, elevating or banishing a specter. The first will ultimately contribute to the resurrection of Antea, Red's beloved, while the other two options will allow her ascension. All the choices made will have significant consequences on the destiny of the heroes, but also of the characters you will meet in your adventure.
Although the consequences are somewhat visible in the long term, it remains a little light. Furthermore, it is clear that we would not have given up on a few additional indications regarding obtaining the different endings of the game. The one we obtained was completely in keeping with the tone of the game, and it seems certain that the others will be softer, with some variations. Note that there is also a choice in the form of an oath which appears occasionally, and which will be used to reverse or not your initial decision between the resurrection or the ascension of Antea. Once again, it's difficult to say whether or not this little mechanic really has an impact on the end of the game.
Red and Antea merged right down to gameplay and improvements
In addition to an effective, although imperfect, narration, Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden has a combat system that's a bit better than Vampyr. With a simple press of a button, it is possible to instantly switch between Red and Antea. Red will have a light attack, heavy attack and a musket to adjust his enemies, as well as the ability to dodge or parry. Or relatively average gameplay with a bit of rigidity. In addition to this, our Scotsman has a banishment gauge which, once filled, will launch a powerful attack that will almost certainly eliminate his opponent, depending on their level.
This is classic gameplay, happily enhanced by Antea's spectral abilities. In her ectoplasmic form, our banisher will attack her enemies using her fists, while benefiting over the course of the game from new skills which will allow her to considerably vary her range of blows. Concretely, the chemistry between our two lovebirds works well during fights, and the few nice combos that we can achieve by switching from one character to another are exhilarating.
Obviously, just because the Red/Antea duality works doesn't mean the fights are without flaws.. It must be admitted that everything sometimes seems sluggish, coupled with inaccuracies and a certain latency when it comes to performing a specific action such as treating yourself with a potion. The locking is not at all optimal, which is frustrating in the long run, as are the collision bugs that join the party. So certainly, the fighting sequences are not as fun as a God of Warbut it will already be better than those of Vampyrwhich were indigestible.
Note that there are boss fights, but they are not very original. In addition to the elite and basic enemies that we face throughout the game, the bosses to fight will always offer the same pattern. Despite good staging on some, it will always be a matter of lowering their life gauge and using banishment three times until they are defeated. We have seen much better in terms of singularity, and it is a shame that the quality of these confrontations is not constant throughout, although there is an idea on two specific bosses.
Apart from that, Antea and Red can also improve in terms of equipment and skills, via a very classic layout but effective in execution. Using one of the campfires found all over the map, you will first have the opportunity to improve the equipment of our two heroes. From the outfit to your weapon or even the ring or brooch for Antea, it will be possible, with resources gleaned from every corner of New Eden, to increase the power level of each piece in order to improve your statistics. We would have liked a bit more depth on this aspect, but it nevertheless remains accessible for newbies.
Next come the skills. By leveling up for Red or solving a haunting case for Antea, our protagonists will gain a skill point. You will then be free to distribute them in any area, which will for example increase the damage percentage when performing a ban, or unlock specific combos when you change characters. It's very generic, and the only originality lies in the fact that skill points are not earned in the same way for each of our heroes. We will also highlight the possibility of making a quick trip from campfire to campfire, and of resting to regain our healing vials, which is very reminiscent of the well-worn Souls recipe.
A bushy but generic New England
Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden adopts a formula God of Waror semi-open world. In other words, you alternate between completely narrative passages, others where you will have to inspect specific places, particularly in cases of haunting, or even the main quests with the help of Antea and her spectral vision, and of course sequences where you will have to do battle with the numerous specters who prowl in slightly more open arenas. Throughout the game, we felt a very strong inspiration from the Santa Monica Studio title. This is not a bad thing, of course, but the overall level design is unsurprising, with striking similarities.
Even the proposed gameplay loop lacks an ounce of renewal. More or less, and if we except the pseudo-enigmas to be able to progress – in general, you have to destroy certain elements with our musket to unlock a bridge etc. -, you will systematically arrive in a new village, you will have to speak to inhabitants to find out what's going on with sometimes definitive dialogue options, to finally destroy the evil lurking in the area and purify part of New Eden. Concretely, it is disappointing to see that DON'T NOD has not been able to renew itself throughout although, paradoxically, the title has such an atmosphere that we remain captivated at all times.
To still stay positive despite this lack of inspiration, the content offered by the DON'T NOD baby is rather generous. In addition to the haunting cases to be resolved, quite a few points of interest are located on the map. These generally reveal chests containing resources or new equipment, nests of specters boosting stats once destroyed and scourges to be purged by performing the right ritual, cursed chests or passages towards the void, i.e. the kingdom of dead. This place also allows you to recover resources once the evil has been purged, but also rewards such as equipment.
In short, there is plenty to do, even if it all seems redundant in the long run, especially the uninviting side quests. The same goes for the merchants that you can encounter in the villages, who are of little use. They will offer to buy certain resources or new equipment, but you will hardly need to see them in general.
Among the good untapped ideas, there are rituals. When arriving in front of specter nests, specific elements to inspect, or even to summon a scourge to confront or even to pass into the void, you will have to perform a ritual. And if you ever make a mistake using the resources dedicated to the use of the ritual, you will just face failure without the slightest consequence. We would have liked a semi-punitive mechanism…
That said, we won't take away its little metroidvania side. Indeed, as we progress, it will be possible to return to certain places and thus unlock various passages using the new skills that Antea will obtain. Once again, this doesn't invent anything at all, although it must be admitted that it works quite well overall. Moreover, we must salute the work done on the gameplay of Antea, who can use his spectral vision to unearth or inspect various objects for investigations into haunting cases which are completely invisible to Red's eyes.
As charming as he is lame in his technique
The artistic direction of Dont'Nod's software is undeniably charming. With these environments of a muddy and graying new England, it is clear that the dressing is impressive. The various passages in the void also command respect, and exacerbate the somewhat gloomy side that we feel at every moment in the atmosphere of Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden. Dont'Nod has always been able to master the artistic aspect of its productions, and the observation is the same here.
On the other hand, the technical aspect is in flux. Yet powered by Unreal Engine 5, Banishers: Ghosts of Eden manages to display sometimes beautiful panoramas with neat textures, sometimes barely passable environments. And if the expressions have taken a small gap, we can sometimes complain about the somewhat frozen appearance of the faces of certain protagonists, in addition to some rigidity in the overall animations. We were also able to note some hiccups in terms of display bugs and, curiously, the software even shows drops in FPS in certain places, despite the performance mode activated on PS5. Suffice to say that despite some good efforts on the graphics, we are still far from graphic slap.
We end with the soundtrack, which deserved better. Beyond a few flashes in certain music, unfortunately none manages to become memorable. The French dubbing nevertheless turns out to be very good. On the other hand, and as expected, the lip sync is a disaster.