After receiving a tip from my roommate and him knowing my love for Sid Meier’s Civilization V. I decided to pick up the city building game Banished. Made by small time developers Shining Rock Productions, Banished is a strategy game in which you take on the omnipresent role of commanding a group of banished families into building a new home and a new society. Taking them from absolutely nothing with a group of 5-8 families to a thriving town with thousands of citizens. The basics of survival, food, wood, iron, and stone are necessities, and later luxuries like churches and breweries can be built as well. After giving it a play through, I have to say that this game was quite surprising in a pleasant sort of way. A relatively fun and difficult city builder that remains one of the surprise hits of 2014.
Takes Real Strategy to Create a Thriving City
Do not have any delusions that this game will be easy on you. With a bad start you can find that your city will be a ghost town in less than a year. While all of the buildings are at your disposal from the beginning it is knowing when to build them and when to save them for a later time is key to building a successful city. Breweries, cemeteries, and chapels are great and will keep your people happy. But if you do not start off with a solid means to produce food or a woodcutter to create firewood then you will have a lot of empty buildings as your people quickly begin to starve or freeze to death.
Granted a good deal of it is straight forward. Obviously you will want a lot of houses to keep a roof over your people’s houses, plenty of hunting huts, gatherer’s huts, and farms to keep your people well fed and woodcutters huts and tailors to keep your people warm and healthy. The game is a lot more of knowing when and where to build your buildings in order to maximize your village and keep your people safe.
Can Keep Track at a Meticulous Level
For a person who enjoys to micromanage, this is your wet dream. You can keep track of every level of how this city operates, commanding different people to different jobs, keeping stock on the stores of food, stone, and iron as well as keeping track of who dies and when. Your screen can be as clean or cluttered as you wish.
Whenever I went through play throughs, I had several screens open to tell me who is working on which job, who died, who has come of age, who was born, and what stores I had. But that is just the tip of the iceberg of charts, maps, and everything that you will need to keep the pulse of the city under your finger.
No Win Scenario
I suppose this is a problem with the genre more than the game, but there really isn’t a ‘winning scenario’ with the game. You continue to build your civilization until you get bored with it, everyone dies, or you just run out of things to do and to build. It isn’t necessarily a con of the game, but it isn’t a good thing either. I do like having a guarantee of when I win or lose a game instead of the ambiguous ideas of ‘keep going until you are satisfied’. I suppose this can be a great appeal to a number of people. But for me, it makes it a major drawback to the game.
No Rival Cities
It is a sad fact of life, but for games like Banished that involve a great deal of strategy, a multiplayer is something that is a big draw and to not have it is a major con. While I’m not the biggest multiplayer fan, I can understand its appeal in different genres such as this one. It would be interesting to see a multiplayer to see how various banished cities interact with one another. There could be trade options or even military (though that would greatly change the dynamic of the game, so not so much the latter). But still, the dynamic of a multiplayer would benefit a game like Banished and to not have it makes it a big draw back.
Game Can Become Boring and Tedious
You might find it this strange, but a video game in which you build a town and spend the majority of your time mining and farming might get a tad bit tedious. After the first thirty minutes or so, it can be a lot of fun. But by the time passes on, the boredom scale quickly increases. It isn’t a game you can spend all day playing and perfecting. It is one that you will need to set aside and play some other games, read a book, watch paint dry, really anything to get your mind off of Banished until you are fully recharged and ready to play again.
Banished is a good city building strategy game. It can get boring after prolonged game play and there isn’t any multiplayer. But all things considered, it is still a good game. It is a meticulous kind of game and one that has the right level of difficulty to keep you irritated, yet coming back for more. If you have the reasonable $20 to burn, I recommend you pick it up. You will not be disappointed.
Final Score 3.5/5
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