Review: “Banishers: Ghosts of the New Eden” – A Love with a Capital A

Epic and intimate, brutal and poignant, dark and captivating, Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden from the Parisian studio of Don't Nod plays on all the contrasts to depict an adventure whose strengths surpass the few weaknesses. Our opinion.

If there is one thing that cannot be taken away from Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden, this is indeed the force of attraction of its universe, this America of the very end of the 17th century over which the screenwriters have cast a completely fascinating supernatural veil. Here, the deceased are sometimes held on Earth by an emotion that is too powerful and harmful. Rather than peacefully reaching the afterlife, they return in the form of specters to haunt places and inhabitants until their torment is dissipated. This is precisely why the Banishers exist, men and women capable of perceiving and feeling this spectral world and then fighting or freeing these wandering souls whose rage and sadness can cause the appearance of terrible scourges.

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Banisher is the profession of a couple recently arrived in the New World: Antea and Red. Please forgive me in advance for this spoiler which isn't really one: don't get too attached to Antea, she dies in the first hour of the game. Fortunately, and this is the main paradox of the story, she returns to Red's side in the form of a ghost. This implies two things which underpin the whole adventure. First of all, you will have to choose whether you want to do everything to resurrect her or, on the contrary, work to free her soul and offer her a first class ticket to paradise. Then, although the main hero is Red, Antea remains at his side and can be summoned with a click to temporarily benefit from his supernatural abilities.

Banishers, between quests and investigations

In Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden, it's not just the hero who has two faces. The adventure itself revolves around very different facets. Part of the game thus places emphasis on narration: the story of this death-defying love story on the one hand, but above all the epic of this couple fighting against a specter of incredible power which leads them to explore a New England afflicted with supernatural troubles. Like a Geralt of Rivia or a Fox Mulder from the 17th century, Red will offer his services to resolve real paranormal investigations structured around multiple choice dialogues, basic collection of clues (incriminating letters carelessly left on a desk in plain sight). of all, for example…), exploration and combat.

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It's not just the hero who has two faces

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden thus draws on what is most vile, cowardly and deceitful in man to weave dark and fascinating little stories, where appearances are often deceptive. It is up to us to disentangle fact from fiction and, above all, to shoulder the heavy responsibility of judge, jury and executioner. At the end of each investigation, it will be necessary to choose whether to punish or pardon the persons incriminated; a crucial dilemma which will have a direct impact on the outcome of the game (there are five very different endings possible). Constrained by a budget that is necessarily less exuberant than the first AAA that comes along, Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden must be content with sketches that are a little too fixed and faces that are not very expressive to unfold his stories. However, the narrative strength of the game easily exceeds this frugality, which is moreover offset by the artistic direction of the game and the beauty of its settings.

Source: PS5 screenshot
The proportions of the settings can often be very intimidating // Source: PS5 screenshot

Red is not dead

Our lovers' adventure quickly takes on an epic feel in an immense land designed as a simulated open world. The playing area is in fact a patchwork of vast interconnected levels which thus allow long journeys and multiply the varied landscapes – from intimidating forests to peaks shattered by a blinding blizzard, passing through misty swamps. Often very beautiful, these settings constitute a magnificent invitation to explore labyrinthine areas where many surprises are hidden. They are sometimes hidden behind a few environmental puzzles or blocked behind a barrier that only a later power will make it possible to bring down (so Metroidvania). Raw materials, secrets, weapon and armor upgrades, side quests, treasures… Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden counts on its world to enrich the other counterpart of its gameplay: its action RPG side.

Source: PS5 screenshotSource: PS5 screenshot
Don't havehave you ever danced with the Devil in the moonlight ? » // Source: PS5 screenshot

It reveals itself very abruptly in the game's many fights, where the temptation to point out the obvious influence of recent God of War is tall. The game regularly confines us to arenas which host a host of specters to be pulverized with swords and rifles (a single-shot musket). Thanks to the interventions of Antea and her different powers discovered over time as well as the enrichment of her bestiary, Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden succeeds in creating tense and rather effective moments. However, its handling reveals some fragilities and clumsiness. Here again, we feel the budgetary limits of the game emerging and the comparison with the behemoths of the genre, although intrinsically unfair, is necessarily disadvantageous. The rise in power of our complementary pair makes these phases correct, but not particularly attractive. A distinction that weighs a little at times, especially for an adventure which very easily extends over 25, even 30 hours of play – minimum, because you will need much more time (double, probably?) to discover everything that conceals Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden.

Source: PS5 screenshotSource: PS5 screenshot
An artistic direction with very pictorial overtones // Source: PS5 screenshot

This in no way detracts from the care and obvious know-how put into composing this Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden. We actually feel a small imbalance between the narrative and artistic strengths of the game and its pure elements of gameplay who often remain too wise, even academic. In a title with such a powerful and gripping atmosphere, the use of certain clichés of the big games of the 2010s (overabundance of markings of all kinds, campfires to teleport, action/RPG/investigation intermingling, etc.) dulls the originality and pushes for comparisons which do not always work in its favor. However, it must be recognized that these same motifs also know how to be attractive and eye-catching (especially the RPG aspect). Over time, we allow ourselves to be fully embarked on an exciting adventure of unsuspected richness.

The verdict

Firmly anchored on striking narrative and artistic foundations, Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden grips us in its long-term adventure which reserves many surprises and some moments of bravery. If, here and there, we feel its budgetary limits and certain creative facilities emerging, in the end, it is the strengths of the game which take over to depict a fascinating, varied and memorable epic. In any case, I know that Banishers and its ghosts will haunt me for a long time to come…


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