Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden Review

The name DONTNOD for many (including myself) will immediately conjure thoughts of choice-based teen dramas, the Life is Strange series steadfast as one of our favourites of the genre. However, they are known to dabble in more action-orientated stints too, including 2018’s Vampyr. This latest release, Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden, straddles a line between to two, and over the last 30-odd hours has proven to balance action and choice & consequence well, albeit with a few drawbacks.

We play as the Banishers of the title in Red Mac Raith and Antea Duarte, a couple who are bonded by love as well as work. Travelling from England to the new colonies of America in the 1600’s, they are summoned by a friend to help with a curse within the town of New Eden. As Banishers, they are there to banish ghosts and help the settlers rid any malevolent spirits from their lives. After a fairly slow open in which we learn more of our duo and the situation we’ve arrived in, Antea is killed by a Nightmare; a powerful spectre that has arisen in New Eden.

All is not lost though as Antea returns to Red as a ghost, tied to this world by her lifeless body being held hostage by the Nightmare. And so, after barely surviving the encounter himself, Red sets out to get back to New Eden and retrieve her body so she can be set free.

The first of many similar choices to make is not an easy task; we have to weigh up both sides of the story to see which we want to come down on

From here, we’re set loose in a semi-open environment; there’s a golden path, but also plenty of side tracks, missions, and activities to explore. As you may expect, the bulk of these revolve around hauntings and helping people remove the spirits that have returned for one reason or another. Along the way we’ll be bashing plenty of ghostly heads in, and chatting to both sides in order to discover the root of their hauntings.

Combat first, and it’s here that Banishers is the weakest, at least in the beginning. We control Red and Antea throughout, using his brute force in combination with Antea’s ghostly powers. She cannot die again, but does have a essence bar which depletes as we use her or she takes damage. As long as this bar has some points we can flit back and forth between them as we see fit. They can also learn some combo moves that are all but essential very quickly.

The combat itself is fine, but we did find it awkward to get into the flow of things. The enemies can easily overwhelm and continue to attack even when we’re defenceless, and Red’s movement especially felt a little too plodding, where we struggled to evade as well as we’d have liked. It also could easily get quite chaotic, with the camera swinging around at random, and the lock-on feature frequently failing to switch to a new target leaving us swinging into thin air.

Combat is decent enough, though nothing spectacular. Things improve once we’ve levelled up a bit, but it never quite hits the spot fully

Things improved once we unlocked some new gear and weapons that had more of an impact, but initial impressions were not great. Even toward to end of our 30+hr playthrough we still found it to be awkward and stilted at times, though again more powerful items and abilities helped a lot.

We gain skill points for each new level and these are used to buff Red or Antea with better attacks, but some also come with a punishment (we might gain 30% damage output but at the cost of health potions being less effective, for example). It certainly fits into the choice & consequence nature of the game but even the harshest ones still proved useful. Handily, we can swap out upgrades at anytime by refunding points, so the scope is there for experimentation.

The other key component as mentioned are the choices to be made. I’ve always enjoyed this style of game mechanic, seeing how my choices affect the story in a way differently to others. In Banishers, these choices are limited to key moments rather than every conversation, and directly affect the potential outcome of Red and Antea’s tale.

Antea and Red’s relationship throughout is heartfelt and brilliantly told as they struggle with the reality of their situation

At certain points in the story and after each Haunting case we’re presented with the evidence, and can choose one of three options; to Banish or Ascend the Ghost, or Blame the living. Choosing either of the former contributes to Antea’s ascension, whereas the kink in the tale is when the Blame option comes in. As Banishers, they are sworn to remove ghosts from the world in order give them peace, but after Antea’s death another option is presented – to bring her back to life. Choosing Blame effectively takes the life essence from the living, storing it up to use to bring her back.

It sounds pretty black and white, but the devil is in the details and the stories told. Each Haunting case plays out roughly the same (someone is lost/dead/vengeful/an inevitable twist in their stories/decision time) but the writing and performances make them shine. We found ourselves getting fully wrapped up in each case, truly weighing up whether we wanted to continue down our path to Ascend Antea or punish the living and be selfish to bring her back.

We managed to stay the path of good (this time) but there were more than a few we’re already planning on sacrificing next time. At key points throughout the story we can change our mind on our plans for Antea, and we’re very keen to see how the dark side plays out.

It can pay to keep the living alive though, as beyond the main cases there are activities that peel off of their stories to complete, side missions and extra tasks to find throughout the world. It’s surprisingly deep when you start digging, and we feel we could have easily doubled our playtime in order to see everything.

It was enjoyable then to explore the Hauntings that we did, and we often found ourselves on the way to a main mission only to get side-tracked for half hour as we engaged one of a number or side routes or quests. The world of New Eden is linear yet somewhat open, with a lot of backtracking and alternate routes to unlock as we go. It’s kind of the exact level of open-ness we like in a RPG like this, with enough to intrigue without giving us so much to overwhelm.


Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is a solid action-RPG with an intriguing world full of worthwhile stories and characters to meet. Combat is a weak point (though upgrades help somewhat) and for as well written as the Haunting cases are, they all follow a very similar template. However, it’s a testament to DONTNOD’s skill that even despite these foibles, we had nothing less than a great time with Red and Antea. It’s not as flashy or as deep as some other titles out there, but for our money Banishers is more than worthy of your time and money.

This game was reviewed based on Xbox S|X review code, using an Xbox S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.

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  • Interesting world and characters
  • Just the right amount of side and extra activities that actually feel worthwhile doing
  • Haunting cases all follow a very similar template
  • Combat isn't as fluid as it feels like it should be
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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