Ever since the EA issues with their latest Sim City game, those who enjoy playing a game to build up a town, city, or other construction have been looking for an alternative. Banished, an independent game from Shining Rock Software, may be just what a player of this genre wants.
In Banished, you have been placed on a deserted island, as the leader of a rag tag group of refugees. Your goal, of course, is to build up your town to become a major city. However, with a true colonist experience such as what they had at Plymouth Rock when the Pilgrims came over from Great Britain and the Netherlands, the feel of the game is much different than the modern SimCity or Cities XL games.
I do not want to divulge any strategies or hints in this review. Those are for you to discover, or to find out on the Internet. However, by the time the first year was up and winter had set in, I immediately learned where my mistakes in planning were. After a couple of hours, my colony was dying quickly from starvation caused by not realizing how harsh winter could be in such a setting.
This is the added realism you avoid in a modern setting. In SimCity, you have to deal with utilities such as sewers and electricity. In Banished, having your colonists freeze, get eaten by predators in the forest, or starve because you can't figure out how to slaughter your cattle make things a lot more focused. When assigning tasks to your workers, you move them around on an individual basis to the occupation you need. Missing something along the way can be fatal, like forgetting to have your people cut the lumber into firewood.
But, this sort of micromanagement should make players very excited. At a whim, you can shift people around if something is pressing, like building a new warehouse to store items if you are getting close to filling up your first warehouse, or building that wheat farm you need to feed your people.
Graphics: With my old eyes, sometimes I have issues with graphics. However, the clarity and ability to see even the smallest colonist moving around without having to zoom all the way in is pretty innovative. However, that's not the true beauty of the game. The forests look real enough to touch, the water effects are spectacular on my semi-high end graphics card.
The Interface: At first, you do not have much of an interface. However, once you start accessing the tab system and get things open up and arranged, the realm of possibilities open up for the player. The fact you can move your windows everywhere, and are not locked into taskbars or other things games like SimCity use makes you able to customize to your liking.
Agriculture: I must be kidding, right? But, the ability to grow a number of crops, use crop rotation techniques, and raise multiple types of farm animals is a major plus in the game. More diversity means more options down the line. I hope they add additional options as well, to make things truly unique compared to the other city simulator/builder games out there.
Instructions: As in, good luck figuring things out quickly. Of course, part of this is the joy of the game, discovering all you can do with it, but a bit more instructions and especially some hints for that first year of your colony would help. Not realizing the devastating effect of winter doomed my first city. But, it wasn't obvious how the weather was progressing through the game, and the temperature changes were not immediately obvious. This may frustrate a starting player.
Shining Rock Software's YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/ShiningRockSoftware has a number of tutorials and game play hints and techniques to use if you are stumped, thankfully.
I can't find anything I would describe as 'ugly' in this game, a rarity. Unless, of course, you want to talk about how my people died of being frozen to death or dying of starvation due to my lack of preparation for winter.
If you like SimCity or Cities XL, you may, like myself, find Banished is a superior product. I have been quite impressed with the game, and will be purchasing a personal copy of the game as soon as I am able to do so. I rate this game as a must buy.