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Banished is an indie city-building strategy game in which the player guides a group of outcast people (hence the name of the game) into rebuilding their community. Survival is the most important thing to do at first, and in order to achieve this purpose, the effective management of all available resources is required. Growth and development only comes next, once a decent level of resource management is achieved. Furthermore, the people themselves are your primary resource, thanks to the work they can perform.
I wondered what was it that Banished could bring to the already crowded market of city-building strategy games, as at first, it didn’t seem that there was much of this game, especially in terms of originality. You control your people, assign jobs to them, build all kinds of constructions, and so on – we’ve seen this story before. Then I started playing it and I realized that Banished is unique in its own way.
First of all, Banished is hard. Even with the easiest mode selected, and with calamities togged off from the settings, and with the fairest climate option selected, I still managed to get my people killed and my community destroyed a couple of good times. I didn’t expect the game to have such a steep learning curve, and I was quite overconfident in my strategic playing abilities when I started playing it, and that paid back considerably. When I figured out how to handle the food issue, my citizens died of cold. When I figured out how to handle the food and the cold issue, I ran out of tools and that affected everything, backfiring to the point it ruined everything. When I figured out how to deal with food, cold weather (fuel), and tools, my community simply grew old and perished because I hadn't built enough new houses to ensure a decent population growth level. And so on. Even the fact that it took me 20 hours of playtime to finally get my first Steam achievements for this game says a lot about how difficult it can be. For other games it’s enough to start them and you already get an achievement award.
Banished is so unforgiving that it may seem like a combination between a typical strategy town-building game and a roguelike game with permanent death. Anyway, somehow, Banished is not frustrating despite being very challenging. And I think that’s because its gameplay concept is incredibly well-balanced. Every available resource has its role, and for every need multiple solutions are available, but each one comes with a different cost in terms of effort, time, and so on. A lot of scenarios can happen because of this. Once you figure out how things work, playing it is incredibly satisfying. I love Banished, I can hardly wait to play it some more, and I’m sure I’ll put many more hours of playtime into it. It clearly gets my recommendation, as it’s a brilliant strategy game that doesn’t seem like much at first, but it manages to offer the levels of gameplay balance and player satisfaction that other mainstream titles only dreamt of achieving.
- Very well-balanced in terms of resources vs needs
- It's quite lightweight and works fine even on older systems
- Supports mods and plenty of them are available
- When the simulation is sped up to maximum (10x) or the zoom out level is set to high values, the game starts running less smooth, occasionally