Banished is a city building strategy game developed by Shining Rock Software. Build a town that will stave off the harsh winter and provide food for your little band of exiled people. Be notified when one of your citizens is born, when they are in school, when they join your work force, and sadly be informed of their demise. Your grief is not yours alone however; the happiness of your citizens gets affected whenever one of their own passes away. You must move on and so shall your people, make them farm, fish, hunt for their survival. Lead your people well and you shall see generations after generations of citizens thrive in your town.
I am one of those people that start city building games without going through the tutorial, and I immediately regretted my decision. Unlike other city building games, Banished does not have annoying yet informative game advisers that popup during the game that helps you plan out the next move. You are on your own. Technology trees don’t exist and you can build anything you want at from the start, as long as you have the resources to do so. There is no rival village to defend your citizens against, but you’ll be constantly pitted against the forces of Mother Nature.
One challenge in the early part of the game focused on the quirkiness of my people. When I started playing the game, after food was gathered it was transported into the barn for storage. I was perplexed when I would check on the food storage and notice it was almost empty. Did a single person really eat 100 pumpkins in one sitting? I promptly followed the last person from the barn and realized that the food was being brought into their own house, while their neighbors starved to death next door. You cannot just store one type of food; you need a variety of food to keep your people happy and healthy. Managing your resources is also a big part of the game; trees just like in real life don’t grow over night. Once chopped down, you’ll have to utilize a forester to plant new seedlings or wait for Mother Nature to do what she does best.
Overall, the game will keep you captivated for hours with trying to figure out the proper way of approaching your town. The heavy involvement of the seasons and weather in the game in the initial part of the game was challenging and sometimes frustrating. Understanding the AI of your citizens was over complex and without out the help of the people in the Banished forums I would have not figured things out. The game is beautifully crafted, and the rewarding gameplay makes you know the citizens of your town without the need to micromanage them.
Note: The Banished review was written based on a digital PC version of the game.