There was a storm warning in Reykjavík the night I started playing The Banner Saga. As my computer booted and my tea steeped, I made the rounds in my apartment, securing the latches of my windows — double-paned, of course, to keep the cold out. Bare birch branches writhed eerily outside, and the sky, which had danced pink and green four nights prior, was coal gray. It was a good night for a Viking story.
I glanced at my watch as I launched the game. I had to start playing, but I was eager for my partner to come home. Most Icelanders I’ve met have a strong affinity for their heritage, but my partner is a cultural paladin. Our shelves are crammed with epic poetry, archaeological resources, and dictionaries of dead languages. When my mom came to visit last summer, my partner had a story (or a song) for every mountain and waterfall we drove past. There’s a single-handed battle axe resting against her bedside table. Y’know, just in case.
I didn’t want her to play the game with me. I wanted her to snark.