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This creepy Banishers Ghosts of New Eden boss took a year to design

DON'T NOD executive producer Karim Benfares reveals how Banishers Ghosts of New Eden stands out from the crowd, revelling in its unique world and setting.

Banishers Ghosts of New Eden Interview Gamescom 2023

Banishers Ghosts of New Eden emerged as a highlight for me at Gamescom, following my time exploring and fighting ghouls in our Banishers Ghosts of New Eden preview. There are shades of games like God of War Ragnarök and Star Wars Jedi Survivor, but the game’s refreshing take on the afterlife is enriched by the Banishers’ setting. Executive Producer Karim Benfares tells The Loadout how it came to be, as well as the game’s year long quest to create its lore.

“We were inspired by The Revenant. We really loved this movie and the surrounding setting. So we wanted to reuse it, not only for visuals, but personally about the settlers and the topic about colony, moving out from Europe to the US in New England,” Benfares explains. Banishers follows Red and Antea, two hunters that ‘banish’ supernatural beings out of the living world.

With lush forests and countryside to explore, New Eden harbors a multitude of secrets beneath the soil. Benfares feels that the 17th century time period that Banishers inhabits was a perfect way to tell a deeply emotive story. “We want to talk about the past of the settlers. The context of settlers in this 17th century area, 1695 to be accurate, could be perfect. Because when you move out from Europe to the US, you have secrets, you have something you don’t want to talk about. And it was a perfect match for this.”

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I tell Benfares how Banishers reminds me of Robert Eggers’ The Witch, the 2015 folk horror movie which follows a family in the 1630s encountering forces of evil in the New England outback. He notes how The Witch is another key influence, but Banishers is more than the inspiration it wears. Benfares stresses the importance of having two lead characters. “We wanted to make sure that the player is not playing one character and a side character. It’s to make sure that it could be relevant, efficient, whatever the situation, not just during combat or exploration.”

Humans can see Antea, as she is part of the afterlife herself. This makes dialogue intriguing in Banishers, with Antea offering her piece of mind from beyond the grave. Choices are crucial to aiding Red and Antea’s journey, but for Benfares, making sure combat has “the perfect switch” is just as vital. “To be honest, it’s tricky. I think that we always try to be very realistic with our story and context, because we want our games to be immersive. That’s why, for example, you talk about the rifle, we wanted the rifle to be difficult to manage, or else it would be a shooter.”

The flintlock rifle in Banishers can’t be fired repeatedly, nor can it be exploited like a regular third-person shooter. It is cumbersome and relies on the perfect opportunity to fire. Benfares reveals that originally Banishers was “very realistic, like you had to fire with your rifle, then put in a stick and reload it. It was too painful for the player. So we always try to find the balance between both.”

Banishers Ghosts of New Eden interview gamescom

While Red and Antea steer away all manner of spectral frights, the world of New England itself remains grounded in the reality DON’T NOD is building. “The player feels the wildness, like they’re lost in the huge forests. It can be in the mountains, it can be so what we call plains, the beach. It’s realistic, you don’t have any weird areas.” It might seem strange that the game doesn’t veer in hellish territory environment wise, but Benfares believes it serves the story above all: “We love to put characters in realistic settings and add a supernatural layer […] it is always really sick, and it’s supposed to be in New England, so we wanted it to be relevant.”

That supernatural element is enforced by the game’s lore, which took a full year to craft, according to Benfares. “There is synergy between narrative designers and level designers. We’re trying to tweak the lore of course, from time to time to make sure that level designers have the right tools,” Benfares says regarding the development process. Similarly, an early game boss I fought in the preview took just as long to create. “The Beast […] we spent a year to make it really, it took a lot of time. In fact, we didn’t want to be inspired by anything. We wanted to be inspired by the story we wrote.”

Before my time with Benfares comes to a close, I ask about his personal experiences with the game so far. Despite the game’s creepy enemies and harsh setting, Banishers is underpinned by a romance – an element that Benfares enjoys the most. “It depends on who you ask. Something I love about this adventure is that we produced two different quests, depending on your choice. And when I was the first time I played it, I think it probably provides the kind of love you look for in effigies. And I think this is what I prefer.”

You’ll be able to experience it for yourself when the Banishers Ghosts of New Eden release date rolls along later this year. Keep your eyes peeled for more previews, interviews, and coverage of Gamescom from The Loadout over the coming days.