Banished is a city building game which plays more like a life survival simulation. You have to build a village, though that can be a huge challenge.
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Shining Rock Software, an independent game development studio, created something that caused controversial feedback from gamers. Most have expected a game like ANNO or SimCity, though Banished turned out to be a completely different city building strategy.
City builder might be a wrong interpretation of Banished as you will struggle to manage a small village of just 10-15 people. The game has one of the best tutorials which will teach you everything you need to know in order to get started. Although it won’t tell you how hard it is to manage your resources and how to prepare for harsh climate conditions ahead. As soon you complete the tutorial, which by the way is highly recommended, and start a village you will face winter in all its glory.
The thing is that no tools are open by default and you will want to have at least few visible at all times. For instance General Statistics, Events and Jobs are windows you want to keep an eye on. Knowing when your folks get sick is rather important as they will spread a disease and all your population will die. Yes, Banished is brutal like that. Several events will cause your village to die completely.
Winter, in Banished, means famine and people freezing to death if you haven’t stockpiled enough firewood. This is how the game teaches us about surviving the life itself. No zombies or any undead creatures, but the very existence throughout the year and it has been done in a pretty much realistic way. In spring you will plant crops and enjoy sunny weather, while in winter you will struggle to keep your villagers alive.
Time and resource management is hard, almost impossible. My first three villages were gone within first game’s year. Then I started to plan my fourth one more carefully. Let’s think about what people need in order to survive. Roof over their head, so build them houses. Families move in a house and breed. The result is kids, more mouth to feed and also more coats needed. Banished really made me feel terrible when I’ve saw notifications about kids dying from starvation or froze to death.
Which means the next thing people need is food, warm clothes and firewood. Food can be obtained by planting fields of crops, fishing, gathering, and hunting, keeping livestock, trading and plating Orchards. Same as in real life, trees take years to grow before they yield any fruit. As for the firewood, the easiest way to get some is to clear trees. Be careful not to chop down the entire forest straight away, though you can place a Forester and let them plant more trees.
Everything has to be planned to a tiniest detail and that is where the challenge of Banished lies. Not in some battles or Godzilla monster attacking the village, but in managing daily life. Expand too soon and you will have too many mouths to feed, clear too many resources at once and there will be no trees available for log in winter. Some players might not like the fact that there is no some fictional challenge, or that everything is unlocked straight at the beginning. I can understand that as I felt the same when I first attempted to play Banished.
Once I started to get into the survival aspect of a game, it all became much better. It’s not always fun and gets rather depressing when your villagers start dying because you haven’t stocked enough food, but that’s the way life is. The realistic gameplay really got me. Not just seasons that affected my population’s needs, but also trees that take years to mature and farming which ruins the soil if a field stays in a same place for too long.
Depending on the randomly generated map, Banished can be extremely challenging or too easy and without a challenge the game loses its charm. You can also set some difficulty options within the menu and start with mild climate and more resources. Mind you, mild climate is not as easy as you would expect. Villagers still needed firewood and coats even in spring, though that is the basic survival thing about Banished.
Visually, Banished is a strategy game with European-style houses and stunning weather effects. Snow and rain really add to the overall atmosphere of a game. Sounds are cool too, it all just give the perfect feeling of surviving in harsh conditions of a land with no advanced technology or anything else but basic resources.
Tending to day-to-day needs of your villagers might seem boring, though even the easiest village I had faced a rough winter and everyone died. I got too comfortable thinking my fishing docks and crop fields are yielding more food than my people could ever eat. The game proved me wrong as this is another real life experience. One year my fishing dock gathered 1536 resources, and the next cycle it got me merely 394. I was fooled by a pleasant soundtrack that got me thinking everything was running fine.
As a city building strategy, Banished gives a different kind of challenge. It’s difficult and ruins your nice cosy village just like that. There are no second chances and you have to start from scratch, and that is the only criticism I have. No long-term goals all campaigns is no big deal to me as Banished teaches how to survive the life.
Dolores is SEO and Digital Marketing consultant who has been completely hog-washed into doing this site by KC.