The Banner Saga 2
The Banner Saga games are uniquely gruelling in an RPG genre where the numbers tend only to go up. Here your warriors get weaker, not stronger, as they’re chipped away at in turn-based combat, swinging weakly at the encroaching Dredge. And as your exhausted caravan trundles on, tying events together, you’ll inevitably fail to save every desperate soldier and their family.
Even victories in The Banner Saga 2 can feel pyrrhic, coming at great cost. The cruelty is leavened only by a gorgeously-animated art style which evokes Disney’s Beauty and the Beast but also has a stark nobility of its own.
Fittingly-named studio Stoic have addressed complaints about samey-ness this time around, introducing obstacles, special objectives and centaur-ish enemies with horrifying, cheek-crushing hooves to the battle. The emotional engagement the series started with might have been lessened by an overlarge cast of characters, but The Banner Saga 2 can’t be bettered for bleak tactics and management.