Unique style and balanced game-play, brilliant visuals, smooth and consistent UI, excellent whether effects
No end goal
Some of the most successful city builder games in the past, like Sim City, Caesar, Zeus etc. have really set a very high quality and standard to expect from this genre. But “Banished” has raised that bar a little higher. The key focus here in this game is just balance. While we say ‘just balance’, you’ll be doing a lot of it, because it sets you on a path that has you planning every single move, and failure to plan and balance will lead to failure.
There’s very little to talk about the story – it’s essentially a group of villagers who have been banished from their village and have to start up a new one on their own. That’s it. There’s no end goal, no end story. However, in this simplicity lies the greatness of the game.
One thing you’ll notice immediately with the game is, that there is no money. What almost seems like a preposterous thing to do by not having money, ‘Banished’ has neatly opened itself up into a very intense game-play mode that focuses solely on your ability to manage resources sans the money filter. Historically in other city building games, if you started to bleed money, you know that the game is over.
The user interface is neat and clean and has few options for customization, which you’ll probably end up doing, but having said that, the game itself feels smooth, crisp and responsive. What we really enjoyed about the game was it’s consistency in maintaining equilibrium. Like we said earlier, there’s no money involved, but the game never lets you rest easy with your resources at hand. Population growth is one of the many success criteria, but unlike other games in this genre, population growth is not achieved by immigration. Your only option to grow your population is…hold your breath….have more children. Now in order to have more children, you need to build new houses. New houses are typically taken up by young families who then bear kids. However, kids tend to be a burden, because they don’t work, they just eat. If you don’t plan your baby boom, then it leads to famine. If you don’t build new houses or build too few, the population ratio gets skewed. Boy! There’s a lot of balancing to be done.
Balance just doesn’t end at kids, it also involves managing your resources and village planning. Pretty much like Caesar, if you have homes and work spaces too far away, worker efficiency goes down, and that eventually spirals into famine. There’s also a nice touch of the whether elements. Snow and rain can either be a bane or boon. How to plan for these seasonal changes is key to your success. However, what we really loved about ‘Banished’, was that nothing is out of reach. Everything can be solved, with a little thinking, however given the intrinsic difficulty, the game veers wildly between too difficult or too simple based on either player expertise or the random setup of each map.
Visuals and Sound
This was the best part of the game for us. Visually the game is stunning. Reminds us a lot about Skyrim, but considering the setting in pre-industrial Europe-style world, everything from the architecture, to the tools, to the music is befitting this experience.
The whether effects are amazing; not just visually, but even the sound. With the volume all the way up, it doesn’t get annoying or boring after a while too.
All said and done, the biggest downside to the game is the lack of a ‘goal’ or end objective. You just play on almost endlessly, and once you have most of your stuff organized, established and balanced, there’s no real motivation to continue. You’re probably better off starting a new village. Nonetheless, this doesn’t make it a poor game. It’s easily one the best city builder games we’ve played in a while and is highly recommended.
Hope you had as much fun reading this as we did, doing the Banished Review. Sound off in the comments below.
We recommend playing it a Core i3 and above with at least an GT210 graphics card or better. They say it requires at least 512MB of RAM, but 1GB is the order of the day for this.