Developed by Shining Rock Software, available on Steam, Banished is a city-building strategy game where you control a group of exiled travelers. Banished from their homeland, your colony has only the clothes on their back and the food in their packs. Tasked only with keeping your population alive, build your city up to save themselves from harsh winters and disease.
Featuring an outstanding economy, built on a strong infrastructure, the depth of game play in Banished feels almost unmatched in the God Game format. As you launch your way into the wilderness as a young group of banished villagers, building a wide variety of resources to manage will prove the best method for progress, as any slip may cause your city to fall in ruins. In my adventures, through many trials and tribulations, it was easy to mistake the idea that farming would provide sufficient food for a year’s work. Through the first season, your people can survive on a host of potatoes brought along for the journey, but after only a few months your food supply will be lost and relying on only farms, you may find citizens starving before your first crops have grown.
Developing a bit of game knowledge, and showcasing the importance of Banished’s depth, you must quickly build your infrastructure both close to home and great in variety. Options for feeding your population include hunting and gathering, agriculture, trade, and fishing. Where trade is a very late game option, hunting, gathering, and agriculture are your core gathering choices. Dedicating only a few villagers to each of these functions will feed your people until the harvest each year, then allow for long-term food storage as your population increases each season.
Survival is not simply about food. Survival is about warmth, health, and long-term scale ability in Banished. As the seasons move through, your people will run low on basic resources such as clothing and firewood. Without restocking these supplies, your people may die before the Winter ends. With Foresters working lumber in the woods, their distance to home directly reflects how quickly your people will get warm. Make sure that you manage your woodcutters to work near your recently deposited firewood – within the proximity of your housing. Villagers who cannot reach any of these resources are very likely to die. For those who don’t want to spend all of their Winters wasting valuable workers on woodcutting, building stone housing can ward off the outside cold. A tailor is your best friend in the harsh Winter. Luckily, you’ll be able to use leathers you acquired from your hunting expeditions at the tailor to save your skin from the elements.
Depth of content is no slouch in Banished as survival is your core, but to thrive and create a populace requires honed skills as the God of the people. Your time with Banished will be an addictive travel in striving to drive your population higher and higher, and further from the nucleus where you came to be.
Graphically, the game is neither hit nor miss. Allowing for older PC compatibility, Banished is capable of running on DirectX 9.0 or DirectX 11 for a newer setup, meaning that we’re not peaking out the performance numbers even as the city grows in processing requirements. Unfortunately, as there is no shining light to brag about in Banished’s median graphical power, accomplishment is only found in the game’s price point – $19.99. As an independently released title, we are looking at a very respectable visual appeal, nothing to shake a stick at, just nothing special.
Playing through Banished, anyone purchasing should be very happy with the level of polish in the title. Through countless play sessions I have experienced no obvious flaws in the population’s decision making, nor have there been graphical errors that can frequently be found in Triple-A titles. As a minor complaint, villagers who are about to die of starvation or freezing will walk in circles for a bit just before dying. They may be pretty frustrated – you know, because they are dying, but that’s no excuse…right? Featuring the highest level of quality in the polish category, there is nothing to complain about, meaning only the highest of compliments for the independent development team.
Being of the highest caliber in the God Game archetype, there is absolutely no reason that a fan of Black and White wouldn’t fall instantly in love with Banished. Featuring a complex system that isn’t difficult to learn, but not too simple to master, those looking for replay value and quality in the genre would be well advised to grab Banished today. It’s a fantastic title, and great for when you have a short time and you’re looking to relax. Banished is available on Steam for only $19.99.