Banished is a typical city-building simulation game where you are in charge of a group of outcasts. It is your responsibility to make sure they are well-fed, well-housed, and well-clothed. It is the Middle Ages forever in this game, which means your townsfolk will have to chop firewood, hunt, fish, and farm crops the old fashioned way all through their lives, till the end of their time.
The basics of Banished gameplay is not hard to learn at all; it is the strategy part that will eat you alive. Assign tasks — or professions — to people, and make sure that each of them is contributing something to the town. The tutorial pretty much covers how to do this.
Also, keep in mind that your town is not located in a tropical country. Winter storms do happen, and you’ve got to make sure your people have enough firewood. You’ve got to assess your surroundings and decide, for example, if fishing is your primary food source. Or maybe it’s better to hunt deer, if you think that will keep your town from starving to death. Also, don’t forget to control your town’s population. You’ll realize that your townsfolk are very horny and extremely greedy. They will start coupling at age 12 and will produce babies till they’re a little past 40, and pretty much all of them will grab way more food from storage than you want them to have.
The thing I’m not too crazy about in this game is that the prioritize task command doesn’t always work with me. Most of the time I always have to cancel gathering resources before hitting the prioritize button, and then re-start gathering resources again. I also don’t like the fact that I can’t manually assign specific houses for families. It’s all random, I believe, and maybe that’s one of the challenges in the game.
Banished is actually not a bad-looking game. The trees look like trees, the rivers flow, the lakes don’t look stiff and natural disasters look scary. That’s all I could ever ask for in a simple city-building game, especially when I play it at 10x speed. One thing to note is that Banished requires a minimum of 512 MB DirectX 9.0c compatible graphics card.
The Moment of Truth: Should you play this game?
I should warn you: Banished will take over your life. At least in the first few days that you play this game. Though the objective is straightforward (summary: don’t let your people die), it takes a lot of planning and hard work to make sure your newly-formed town survives through winter. Not everyone will survive Year One on your very first Banished game. Granted, this game does not have skill trees and, as SyWren observed, there’s not a whole lot of content. Your town is never going to progress past the middle ages. Yet somehow I managed to rack up 30 hours of gametime (at the time of writing). Is it perhaps because I ended up caring about my townsfolk too much, that I can’t bear to see them die? And who’s not going to get fond of dear old folks named Ambrosendo, Alvatorey and Millip?
The reason why I keep on playing this game is because I know I can make my town way better than it had been in the last 5 years. And the only way I can prove this is to, well, keep on playing. Besides, the Steam Achievements for Banished are not easy to earn. It’s a simple game, but it’s meant to be played for a long time. Makes sense, right? It does take a while to get — and maintain — a happy, healthy population of over 200. Should you play this game? It depends on how much free time you have. This will keep you entertained for hours, at least until you find another city-building sim game.