One of 2024's best games has completely flown under the radar, here's why you should play it

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is a riveting adventure anchored by an intriguing couple.
Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden. Cr: Don't Nod/Focus Entertainment.
Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden. Cr: Don't Nod/Focus Entertainment. /

Was one of your favorite parts of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt solving the various monster contracts? Did you enjoy the investigative elements of the Batman Arkham series? How about the "Dreadful Crimes" DLC missions added to Assassin's Creed Syndicate? If any of those appealed to you, or you just enjoy games where you get to investigate mysteries and help NPCs rid themselves of problems, then Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden might be the perfect game to play next.

Released on February 13, 2024, Don't Nod's latest third-person action RPG has mostly flown under the radar, which is a real shame because it's easily one of the best new games released in 2024 thus far. What makes this title stand out is that it's an original IP that introduces players to unique lore and worldbuilding that captivates you right from the start.

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden. Cr: Don't Nod/Focus Entertainment. /

Meet the Banishers, Red and Antea

You play as two characters in this game, Ruaidhrigh "Red" Mac Raith and Antea Duarte. In addition to being a loving couple, Antea is sort of the master to Red's apprentice when it comes to the art of banishing. As the title of the game suggests, Red and Antea are Banishers, spirit hunters equipped to fight specters and perform rituals that help souls (or push them forcefully) into the next plane of existence so they can stop tormenting the living.

Set in 1695, Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden begins with Red and Antea visiting the New England town of New Eden to assist their friend Charles Davenport with a curse that has been plaguing the community of settlers. Red and Antea soon find themselves facing their most formidable enemy yet.

The vibe of New Eden is perfect for those who enjoy colonial-era horror, like the setting of Sleepy Hollow. Banishers is replete with shady occult practices, supernatural horrors, witches, and an ominous gloom that settles heavily across the land due to this curse at its center.

Banishers sets its dark tone early on with Antea's death (not a spoiler as it's presented heavily in the marketing materials and happens in the prologue). Afterward, Red must embark on a journey with his lover's ghost by his side as they attempt to take on the ferocious Nightmare behind all of the settlers' torment.

The majority of the game features Red and Antea fighting side by side, with players getting to alternate between the characters, using Red's brute strength in combat alongside Antea's spiritual abilities and manifestations. In terms of combat, the game has you using Red's sword, firebane, and eventually rifle, in tandem with Antea's manifestations and spiritual punches. Combat is smooth and fluid, and plays very similarly to the combat in God of War.

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden. Cr: Don't Nod/Focus Entertainment. /

A grim and darkly entrancing adventure that forces you to make tough choices

After you get through the prologue, the world really opens up to you and players are tasked with journeying back to New Eden to defeat the Nightmare once and for all. Along the way, Red and Antea grow stronger by assisting various communities with their own individual hauntings.

Throughout the saga, you'll find yourself faced with tough moral decisions, and your choices will impact the story. And it's not all doom and gloom; the banter between Red and Antea often helps to lighten the mood and further connects you to these two characters. They are the real heart of this story.

There are several possible endings, all of which have to do with an oath you'll have to make and the choice whether to try and resurrect Antea or help her soul to ascend. How far are you willing to go to reunite Red with the love of his life? The various hauntings you'll encounter are not always easily solved, and making tough choices will impact Red and Antea's overall journey and story arc.

Keep in mind that this is an AA game, not AAA like some of the games I've compared it to. The studio behind Banishers also created another underrated gem, Vampyr, and the first Life is Strange game. There are some drawbacks in the game, like a lack of enemy variety that can make combat feel a bit repetitive at times.

But on the plus side, you get plenty of "evolutions," the game's version of a skill tree, that allow you to customize the combat experience to mix things up. Similarly, there are lots of gear upgrades that make exploration and other activities feel worthwhile rather than like useless bloat.

The overall vibe and setting of colonial New Eden reminded me a lot of Greedfall, though I think this game is a bit tighter and more polished than Greedfall ended up being. There's even a Metroidvania element to Banishers that will see you backtracking to some areas (fast travel is available via various campsites spread across the map) once you gain new abilities that allow you to explore regions that were previously unreachable.

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Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden. Cr: Don't Nod/Focus Entertainment. /

Why Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is worth your time

All of that combined with an immersive and richly rewarding storyline involving the relationship between Antea and Red makes for a compelling game that you can easily sink upwards of 30 hours into, more than that if you're a completionist like me who enjoys uncovering every nook and cranny of a game.

So, given that Banishers is a new game showing significant promise and favorable reviews from critics (it currently sits at a score of 77 on Metacritic), why does it seem like it hasn't generated much fanfare?

I think it's a combination of Don't Nod being a smaller studio without the marketing budget behind some of the more notable AAA games as well as the release timeframe. Unfortunately, Banishers was released amid other buzzy titles like the Tomb Raider I-III remaster, Persona 3 Reload, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, and, of course, the juggernaut that is Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth.

But I've been having an absolute blast with Banishers. I'm around 25 hours into the game and still have plenty of story left and lots more to explore on the map. Sure, there are some quirks, but I have to say I'm really impressed with how smooth and bug-free the gameplay has been thus far.

A few Reddit users have discussed one bug toward the end of the game that can inhibit people from getting the platinum trophy, but beyond that I haven't run into any issues at all. No crashes, not even any glitches. It runs better than some AAA games do on day one, that's for sure. And the little quirks that I do want fixed (it'd be nice to get more fast travel locations and the ability to add custom waypoints to the map!) are completely manageable and still feasible with future patches.

For those who aren't really into Final Fantasy or don't have any big games to play on the horizon in the next few months, I recommend checking this one out.

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is available to play on Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, and Microsoft Windows.

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