Last week saw the release of the second in my list of ‘games I can’t wait to play.’ That game being Banished.
Shining Rock Software’s Banished, is a city building sim, with emphasis on survival. Exiled from your home lands, with not much more than the clothes on your back. You and a handful of others must brave the wild and the weather to start a new life, and a new village. In hopes that your newly found community will thrive and grow. To do this you must hunt, fish, farm, grow crops, start mining and more. You will need to balance your resources. How much wood will you chop down, will this affect the wildlife? Chop down to many forests where will the deer go?
This is the premise of Banished, it’s a fine balancing act of supply and demand. You must produce enough food to feed your villagers, but if you act hastily when food supplies become low, and say, slaughter your pasture for some meat. It could mean you may not be able to breed further animals.
This was kind of how my first village went. I tried to run before I could walk, and within a few short years all my villagers began to starve and die. I was naïve, and spread my workers to thinly without building the main foundations for a village to survive.
Banished is an easy game to pick up, but mastering it will be a whole new learning curve. Controlling the game works like many other RTS type games. Mostly you will be using your mouse to point and click on what you want to interact with. You have a menu bar in the bottom right of the screen with all your items that you can build, its as simple as clicking on one you want, and then selecting where to plop it. Once a new building is built you can assign someone to work there with a simple click of a button.
The layout of your town also to plays a fairly important part. You have to think about things like expansion. If you place a Forester Lodge or Gatherers Hut, it could become useless after a few years due to your town expanding, and not many tress remaining in the area that it operates. You don’t want to place workshops like a Blacksmith to far from your stockpile as this could hold up production at a critical time. These – amongst many other things, are the kinds of problems you have to take in to consideration if you want you town to thrive.
Ultimately the objective is to just survive as long as you can. All your villagers will be born, grow up, get married, have children and then die. Well as long as you plan correctly anyway. If you don’t have enough houses for young adults they will continue to live with their families, which will in turn mean they won’t marry and reproduce, thus stunting your towns growth. This is also something I’ve come across. My town was growing steadily, and I was expanding slowly. But as children became adults, I had neglected to provide more housing for them to live in, now I have an ageing and dying population, and its looking likely that my village is doomed.
Banished also uses a dynamic weather cycle, snow and rain cause villagers to get cold and freeze. You must provide ample amounts of firewood, and warm clothing for when the winter rolls in. If you don’t provide clothing people will tend to stay at home longer next to the fire. This will use more firewood, but more importantly it will have an effect on all other aspects, as they won’t be doing there normal job.
There is no combat in the game, so don’t expect any wars to break out or barbarians to attack you randomly like many other games of this ilk. There are disasters like fires that can happen, although I’m yet to encounter any. Probably due to me playing on easy.
The game looks great, I love the weather effects, especially the snow. And it plays great too. Like I said its simple, but that’s not to say its dumbed-down or anything like that, its just accessible, and easy to pick up. I’ve been following the developers blogs for a few months, and its amazing to think that this game was created by one person. The developer, Luke Hodorowicz has been working on the game since around August of 2011, so what he has created in that time, I think is mighty impressive, and I think it fully deserves to be sitting 2nd in the Steam top selling charts (at time of writing).
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time on Banished so far, and can see myself playing for quite a while. If you are looking for a good city building sim game, this is the one I would recommend you get.