- Review by Leo Mayr - October 1, 2018
The Banner Saga has reached its third and final installment. While seeing such a unique story and narrative play out over three entire games, having the same composer score all three is a special thing indeed.
Right from the start, the score feels a lot bigger than the previous two. It’s louder, more intense, and there’s a lingering sense of finality and dread, of impending doom throughout that really sets this one apart from its predecessors.
Wintory’s main theme carries over once again, nicely tying not only this game but the trilogy as a whole together. Instrumentation wise, the score follows the previous two, with the action relying heavily on brass and percussion and strings or vocals only really coming in for the more peaceful sections of the game. As per usual, the score features an abundance of soloists and vocalists, each bringing something new and unique to the table. There are rarely two pieces that sound alike, and Wintory keeps coming up with ways to change up the formula while sticking close to what makes The Banner Saga sound like, well, The Banner Saga.
While the series isn’t known for happiness and fun, the third entry manages to still be quite a bit darker than the previous ones with a general sense of dread lingering over the whole game with hardly any relief found throughout. Even the already intense action music has been turned up quite a bit, resulting in a few stunningly intense moments that make the first game in particular feel almost tame in comparison.
But what really makes the score stand out is Wintory’s fusion of intense, breathtaking action with calmer, more ambient music. One moment, the brass is escalating into mayhem, and the next you’re admiring the scenery to music quite reminiscent of Wintory’s previous work on more ambient games. Overall, the score contains a few instances reminiscent of bits and pieces from all over Wintory’s career, and given he has worked on the series for the last six years, it is quite fascinating to see him grow as a composer over the course of three scores.
The Banner Saga 3 is a stunning, intense final chapter to this wonderful trilogy. Austin Wintory once again manages to improve on every aspect of the previous scores while also adding entirely new ideas to the mix. The many soloists and vocalists, as well as a wonderful orchestral backbone make this a remarkable and unique experience, well worth revisiting time and time again.