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The Banner Saga
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The Banner Saga

Game previews are an inherently strange part of this business. You wouldn't read a few pages from an unfinished book and render judgement about the final product. Likewise, we don't often have the opportunity to sample a song's chorus or take in a full film scene while they're still in production.

Combine that bizarre level of pre-release access with the awkward situation of having one of the creators (or their agents) standing over your shoulder while you come to grips with new gameplay systems and controls. They often sit back and watch (and either silently judge or just pray nothing goes awry) or throw as much information your way as possible, hoping that something sticks.

In the latter situation, you'll oftentimes hear carefully crafted pitches from public relations staff, which likely have been edited and rehearsed many times over in the days and weeks leading into a convention, trade show, or press junket with the hopes that media types view their latest creation in a preferable light and stay on message, rather than call, say, the new Homefront a "stupid game."

That's not the type of pitch I received over the weekend at PAX, where upon telling a Versus Evil employee that I was familiar with the original Banner Saga, the PR dude told me something I've seldom, if ever, heard uttered by one of his peers over the years. On several occasions he repeatedly told me the sequel is "basically the same" as its predecessor -- which, again, is something you just don't ever hear from these folks, who are paid to brand their clients' products as innovative, revolutionary, or at least in some way distinguishable amidst the competition.

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