• Banished Review

    Banished | A Peasant Simulator

    Banished is a game that teaches you the values of life. How hard work, dedication, and sacrifice can lead to grand outcomes. How some measure of forethought and planning can help you weather the troubling times. It teaches you that by working together, you can overcome any obstacle, accomplish any goal. It also teaches how utterly worthless children are. Seriously, I never really gave it any thought before I played this game. Now I understand how my parents must have felt before I got my first job. Well, I doubt they hated me as much as I hated kids in this game. Nothing infuriated me more when I got yet another child. Another mouth to feed, without any benefit.

    All kidding aside (you see what I did there?), this is a good game. I usually avoided games in this genre, because I thought “How could anyone derive pleasure by looking down from the sky and watching as a city was built up? How could that be engaging at all?” The same old argument why I avoided simulation games of any kind. Surely if I wanted to do the things that were being simulated, I could just go out and do it in real life? It might take me a while to get the needed skills, but I could do it.

    "Look, a main menu featuring your most recent village! Nifty..."

    However, if the rest of the games in this genre are anywhere near as engaging as this game was to me, then I might give them a second look. While it doesn't make me want to go play The Sims (My life is boring enough without having yet another, boring life to deal with), it does make me want to take a look at other city builder games (Sim City withstanding).

    I found myself becoming immersed in this game, and playing for hours. The crowning jewel of my gameplay was the village of Mirrormonk, which reached a population of over 100 villagers. While eventually I made a mistake and most of my villagers died of starvation (of course, rectifying this mistake with a convenient reload of a previous save), I did have this sense of achievement. That I had actually done something really good. And considering how many other towns I had to go through to get the one good one, it was really something.

    The map that you play your little village in is generated according to a seed. You can have one of two types of terrains, those being Mountain and Valleys. Limited in scope, but really. Forest would just be cheat mode, and Plains would equal death most likely, so what else could you ask for?

    "Now which of my peasants should I turn into farmers...?"

    Getting attached to your village is kind of hard to avoid. Even though the most personality your little villagers ever get is the randomly generated name they are awarded at birth, you can't help but become attached as you guide your village from five little houses and a storage barn to huge crop fields, mines, trading posts, and all the other bits of village life (Berry Ale, anyone?).

    The hard part of the game is planning. You need to keep ahead of your villagers needs by planning several years in advance. While my dear town of Mirrormonk did manage to grow to 100+ villagers, by the time they got that far, they were all naked, due to me not having planned ahead clothes wise. Once it became a problem, there was no real way for me to fix it quickly. And while nobody in my virtual Garden of Eden (Everything aplenty, besides clothes) found themselves being tempted by snakes, they all did tend to freeze while doing their jobs in the winter.

    The game starts off with a very well done tutorial (if you're the kind of person who wants to vaguely know what they're doing before you jump into a game) that has you slowly build up the same town while teaching you the different mechanics and what each building does. You go from a village that seems to be teetering on the edge of disaster, to one that is fairly self sufficient. However, it does make you think that this game is a cake walk. But you'll become disillusioned from that silly notion during your first game.

    What the tutorial doesn't do a good job explaining is the many ways that your villagers can die. Starvation, disease, fires. There are far more ways for your villagers to die in this game then there is for them to live (You know, like in real life). The tutorial probably doesn't tell you much about this so that you don't feel like this game is a brick wall that, to make any progress in, you must destroy using nothing but your face. Depending on how you look at this, it's either false advertising, or clever game design. I tend to choose the second option.

    "Lovely wilderness just waiting to be exploited."

    Like it or not, your villages will mostly die on the outset, and while you learn with each successive ghost town, it does tend to make you think that you'll never be able to get a good sized town going. And sometimes you do everything right, and the game decides to shit on you with a disease or fire or some other natural disaster. But if you persevere through these troubling times, eventually you'll get to a point where your villages actually start to seem like they are going to make it. Remember. Forethought, planning, hard work, and dedication. These will get you far in this game.

    Also remember that children are little shits. That sometimes helps when things go bad in the dead of winter.

    Verdict 7/10

    My verdict is that this is a fun game. I've spent a total of 13 hours in this game since I bought it for this review. Looking purely at a "Hours Played" Vs "Price Paid" stand point, this game was well worth the money. Now, if you're really not into these kinds of games, then don't worry. You won't miss it. But if you have any inclination of owning (Or even trying) a game like this, then you should get it. As an introduction into this genre, it caught my attention, and I had a lot of fun playing it. Maybe the rest of them can be as good as this one. I dunno. I'll have to check them out and get back to you on that.