Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is hooked on a strong premise. In the mysterious town of New Eden, you embody two Banishers, specialist ghost hunters (and lovers) expunging wandering spirits and dark forces that threaten the peace of the living. Antea Duarte is a powerful medium, with the ability to harness spirit powers to reach the Other Side. Red mac Raith is the brawn of the operation, wielding rare weapons that can touch the dead. But when Antea is killed in a Banishing gone wrong, the hunters are forced into a new arrangement.
Antea, now a spirit herself, can wield even stranger powers as she wanders the world uncovering ghostly mysteries. She’s directly tied to Red, with spiritual powers allowing them to swap places and abilities, crossing between the living and ghost realms at will.
In an early preview of the game shared with GamesHub, this feature proved incredibly compelling, with the action and mystery of the game hooked on seamless transitions between realms. Between them, Red and Antea dive deep into strange hauntings and infestations of undead beasts, with their combined abilities adding a flavour that elevates Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden.
It’s not only dual combat that shined in this early look – like other Don’t Nod titles, Banishers also unfolded a strong, choice-based narrative within its preview chapter.
The slice of Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden shown to media included a single mission, to hunt a mysterious Beast terrorising a lonely village. There was a touch of Skyrim in this preview, with the action starting in a grassy, tree-lined terrain populated by wood cabins and scared citizens.
While the preview began without context, the relationship between Red and Antea quickly became clear, through intimate dialogue snippets and ghostly interruptions as Red wanders.
When Red meets the stalwart protector of the embattled village, Thickskin, he keeps his cards close to his chest. Dialogue options allow you to pry deeper into Thickskin’s history and her relationship with her sister – but you can also remain neutral, and keep your investigation at arm’s length.
Later in the chapter, Banishers offers a severe choice that will change the fate of the village, and everyone in it – so it’s best to dive deep with the game’s dialogue, and understand exactly the consequences of the choices you’re making. That foible makes every conversation intriguing. Hints at a dark past should be prodded, and tensions should be questioned.
This is a game about investigation as much as it is about destroying and banishing ghosts.
Enter the darkness
Antea acts as a form of conscience in the game, discussing decisions and feelings with Red, and revealing his true motivations. On completing essential dialogue, Antea will often pop in to gain more context, asking probing questions that determine who your version of Red will be – a stoic protector, an emotional guardian, or something of a balance between the two.
Antea also serves a secondary purpose, as a guide through the ghostly world. She’ll often interject while you’re travelling, insisting that you pick up clues or examine certain pieces of the scenery. She’s helpful in a way that occasionally tilts towards being overbearing – but her presence reduces the frustrations of getting lost, as Banishers guides you along a fairly linear, story-based pathway.
It’s one filled with knife-twists, as reveals lead you onward through the darkness, as ghosts emerge from the woodwork, and you need to deploy more combat tricks to survive deadly encounters.
As Red, you have access to a sword and a musket, both of which prove efficient in slicing up ghosts and other wandering ghoulies – all brought to life with hideously slimy, boney character designs that amp up the horror. As Antea, you’ll also be able to wield supernatural, force-like powers that rebound ghosts and create a window for Red to attack. As mentioned, both heroes swap seamlessly – so you can bounce between the two as you slice, shoot, and blast your way across battlefields.
Beyond Skyrim, it brings to mind the spirit powers of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, with the neat ‘two-in-one-body’ aspect shared between these games. As you flit between each character, you’ll find new explorable areas, new clues to solve mysteries, and new ways to traverse the world.
The coming of the Beast
When you eventually meet the Beast, it’s a real sight to behold – all fleshy limbs, oozing torso, gaping mouth, and skeletal features. Much of the game’s aesthetics seem inspired by Celtic myths, with the Beast taking cues from the horse-like Mari Lwyd. It towers over Red and Antea, and feels genuinely horrifying to discover, with a trail of deformed bodies leading to its den.
The battle is high-tension, and requires a balance between dodging and fighting, as you chip away at the Beast’s health one limb at a time, and eventually discover the heart of its weakness. It’s not over when the Beast falls, however – as there’s a clever twist when its true form is revealed, and the strength of your investigation is put to the test.
If you’ve managed to uncover certain bits of dialogue and context, you’ll be able to make an informed choice about what comes next – as the encounter leads to a binary choice that reshapes the narrative, and your character, in the next steps of the game.
In many ways, this early preview of Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden felt like the culmination of Don’t Nod’s specialties. In Vampyr, it harnesses the power of grim storytelling in a dark, vampire-filled world. In every Life is Strange, it tells deeply personal tales where choice is an essential, driving factor. Banishers shares much with its predecessors, particularly Vampyr, while revelling in a fresh narrative buoyed by unique mechanics, and intriguing dual leads.
While the early preview shared with GamesHub was only a slim look at what’s to come in Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden, it certainly made a strong impression. We look forward to seeing more of the game when it launches on 7 November 2023.