Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden (XSX) Review

This house is clean

I admit I had not heard of Banishers: Ghosts of Eden before the code landed in my inbox. Being an on-and-off fan of DontNod for a while, I was intrigued. A story-driven adventure with some combat and an intriguing story? Sign me up! The more I dove into the title I saw the potential. The characters are great, but the pacing is off. The combat is serviceable, but interesting. This feels like a game that almost gets there, but ends up stumbling over itself more often than not.

Dontnod’s latest should be familiar to players. The idea is that the game revolves around two main characters on their journey. There is a lot of slow-walking and maneuvering through what I like to call “squeezy holes.” You know the drill. Games like Tomb Raider, God of War, and Plague Tale all come to mind. Very narrative driven titles that involve a ton of dialogue between the characters and the world while slowly holding your hand through environmental obstacles.

MSRP: $59.99
Platforms: Xbox (reviewed), PlayStation, PC
Price I’d Pay: $39.99

The two main characters make their way around the world and help people solve their hauntings. They are known as Banishers, and yes that is the entire concept of the game. You will switch back and forth between Red, a Scotsman who is haunted by the ghosts of his past victims, and Antea who is actually a ghost herself. The game takes place in New Eden in the year 1695, so expect a lot of Victorian-style architecture throughout. The story definitely piqued my interest, and I was excited to see if Red and Antea managed to rekindle their relationship and if Red is able to help Antea finally move onto the next plane of existence.

The story plays out well enough, but this is where my issues with the game crop up. There are a lot of repeated story beats and locales. The pacing is also dreadful at times. The slow-walking joke has been made a million times, but this game does it constantly. The writing is good, and the characters are certainly interesting, but the dialogue just goes on and on at times. To the point where I felt like I was losing the plot as my interest waned. This is a common theme with this game. Everything feels like it takes too long to get going. Simple things like standing up from a campfire or progressing through a crevice. It just feels bogged down by these all the time, which really breaks the pacing of the adventure.

The game play is familiar, and it works. There is an open world to explore. Side quests to tackle, and of course combat to engage in. None of these break the mold though. Puzzles are standard fare with things like moving objects to traverse, while the spell mechanic for conjuring ghosts being the most interesting. Having to perform specific combos in order to complete them is the most engaging part.

The idea of banishing ghosts is a truly unique one. The only game that really came to mind while playing this was Murdered: Soul Suspect. While not in the same boathouse as far as game play is concerned, the idea of working to put souls to rest is interesting. I was not a fan of the conclusion options though. Only having three options at the end of every scenario really took me out of some of the experiences. I wish they were more tailored to each specific story, but alas it is still a neat concept.

Combat fares a little better as the game progresses. At the outset it is a standard repertoire with two attacks and a dodge. Each character has their own unique style with Red using a sword and gun, while Antea opts for spectral attacks. Swapping between them is seamless, and once I started upgrading them both, I was able to combine the switching into my combos for some cool engagements. The upgrade system is great and one of the shining spots of the game. When combat was available, it was easily the most enjoyable part of the game. I just wish it didn’t take so long to get to everything. I do wish it was a little less clunky at times though.

Banishers: Ghost of Eden is a unique title that just stumbles along the way. It has some severe pacing issues and clunky combat that really drag down the overall experience. I wanted to love it a lot more than I did. It feels like Dontnod’s usual unique take on a genre that feels just a bit undercooked. Still once it drops in price and perhaps receives a few updates, I think this could easily graduate to the status of hidden gem. There are a lot of cool concepts here that I really enjoyed. I just wish I didn’t have to wait so long to get to them.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Interesting concept
  • Story is unique
  • Stiff combat
  • Repeating mechanics and backtracking
  • Slow pacing
Written by
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.