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Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden gives off mighty The Witcher vibes

Don’t Nod’s supernatural action RPG is dark and intriguing
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The gamescom 2023 demo for Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden throws me into a dreary village consisting of wooden log cabins that’s being pounded by rain. The bits of sky you can see above the dark and tall trees are a dull gray. There is only one thing more grim than all of that: the mood of the people living here. I’m not sure what’s going on exactly, but I’m talking to the woman in charge, who has a difficult relationship with her sister and pretty much everyone else, and accept a quest from her – I am to rid the area around the village of a beast that’s been seen.

I’m told not to worry, since it’ll likely end up being a bear, but I’m what’s called a Banisher in this world – essentially a Witcher. I hunt spirits and other such supernatural entities, so I have the feeling that it’s not going to be a bear. Speaking of spirits: My beloved, a fellow Banisher who died on our last mission together, is hanging around me as a spirit as well, talking and being kind of a cynic. I guess that’s what happens when you die. Anyway, our main objective is to find a way to give her the final rest she deserves – or to bring her back in a more physical form, though that’s probably not going to happen without complications.

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden Red and Anrea holding hands.

Red has sworn to Antea to find a way to relieve her from her current form.

After a tense meeting with the chief’s younger sister, who hands me a musket after I skillfully manipulate her through the given dialog options, I head off into the forest. The semi-open-world structure of Banishers sends you where you need to go in a fairly linear manner, but there are some alternative paths and hidden areas to find. You can also collect materials on the way, which are needed for crafting, and smaller puzzles require solving to progress through some areas. Lots of intriguing lore and background information is scattered throughout, so exploring definitely feels rewarding.

Red, the male protagonist, is doing most of the work in this area, but that doesn’t mean that Antea, the female protagonist, is sitting on her ghostly behind. I come to an abandoned mine, where switching to Antea reveals a whirl of spiritual energy. When lined up the right way, her powers allow us to teleport to the surface.

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden screenshot of Red standing before a ghostly apparition.

Red and Antea must face all sorts of ghostly apparitions.

In battle, it’s also great to switch characters around: Red attacks enemies in the physical world, but Antea hits them in the spiritual realms. Both have stamina meters they use to attack and dodge, so it’s good to give them a short breather from time to time. As a Banisher, Red can use his special attack to immediately exorcize an enemy spirit as well, which is pretty handy.

The combat system is simple, but fun. You have dodges, different weapons, and the character switching already mentioned adds a nice fluid dynamic. There are also some magic and spiritual attacks to mix things up. Enemies all have attack patterns you can learn and adapt to, so it’s all fair game and up to the player to live up to the challenge. Naturally, you’ll get to upgrade your gear and abilities as you progress through the game.

The atmosphere feels pretty on point and I really like the voice acting from the bit I’ve played. The fantasy of being this supernatural detective and ghost hunter is well executed.

Banisher: Ghosts of New Eden screenshot of Red banishing a spirit.

It's a good thing that the two protagonists have a few tricks up their sleeves as well.

Supposedly, there will be many impactful choices and decisions to make throughout the game, which influence how the story will go, but I haven’t really seen any of that in the demo, which seemed a lot more combat and exploration focused. Moral dilemmas are what you’d expect from the makers of Life is Strange and Vampyr, so I’m not having any worries on that front.

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden seems like a great offering for those who like lore-rich and dark action RPGs. Developed by Don’t Nod and published by Focus Entertainment, it’ll be out on November 7, 2023, on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X|S. Please visit videogames.si.com for more gamescom 2023 coverage.