Banished: A Review
Last week I was sitting on my sofa, watching tv and minding my own business, when my curiosity got the better of me and I found my gaze drawn to my sister’s laptop screen. She was wearing earphones, and all I could discern on the screen was a lot of snow and some tiny dots moving rapidly across what looked like a tiny town. In theory, it seemed very boring and I almost turned away. But then she built a house, traded 200 units of iron tools for 2 chickens and accepted 11 nomads into her community. Suffice to say, I was intrigued. The game she was playing is called Banished. At its most simple, it is essentially a medieval Sims. Only instead of controlling and looking after a particular person, you are managing an entire town. Now, I am already a fan of the Sims games, just as I am a fan of building things from scratch in such games as Zoo Tycoon and Rollercoaster Tycoon. Combine all of those elements, put it to a medieval setting and you have the foundation for Banished.
The object of the game is to help your small community survive and develop into a thriving town. You must collect raw materials like stone, iron and logs in order to build your houses, barns and cabins. You also need food. Warmth, shelter, medicine and good food are the four main things to keep your people alive. Hunting cabins, gatherer’s huts, farms and pastures will get you all the food you need along with other benefits. You may also build schools, hospitals, chapels and taverns. So long as you have the resources, you can build anything you need to help your little community expand.
Visually, Banished is stunning. The graphics are top-notch and this remains the same whether you are zoomed out to a wide overhead view, or looking close up at the brickwork and crop fields. The detail is phenomenal and, a factor I personally find very good about it, the camera movement is smooth. So far I have had no problems with jumping, freezing or bodged graphics. It has been a pleasing visual experience. The same can be said of the sound. Interestingly the music changes depending on which season you are in, meaning you don’t get bored of the same tune on repeat. Admittedly not a lot of the sound is important, and I have played it into the early hours on mute and not missed a thing, but it is good. You can hear your builders at work, hear the sheep across the field, and there is even a little ‘boop’ notification for any important messages.
There is a lot of fun to be had in this game. Chickens breed like rabbits. Or at least they breed so fast your town will certainly not be lacking in eggs or chicken wings for a while. And as a nice twist to fit the medieval theme, the characters’ names as chosen by the random name generator are rarely boring and, in some cases, truly hilarious. Yesterday I discovered a couple who had named their newborn baby girl Oral. Poor sod. But on top of being a lot of fun, it is also quite challenging. With three different difficulty settings it suits everyone’s tastes, but whether you are playing it on Easy or Hard it is safe to say you will never truly be bored. There is always something to be done and this is something I find is where it excels. You may have more families than houses, so you must build a house, but to build the house you must have the raw materials. If it is winter you must decide whether to build a new house or save what logs you have for firewood to stay warm. You may want to buy some new seeds from the trader to expand your options for crops, but you must first find 2500 units of your own to give him. You must decide if losing all of your coats and iron tools simply for a new crop type is worth it. There is never a dull moment in the game and it is fascinating.
I bought the game in the sale as a recommendation from my sister, but I can recommend it to everyone even at its original price of £15. If I could award gold stars, Banished would get five. I am yet to find fault in it except that it is so addictive I have ruined my sleep pattern. Even as an Xbox gamer I find myself captivated by this PC game. If you like your games with quality graphics and intellectual challenge then this is for you. So what are you waiting for? Go and buy it, you won’t regret it. And if my word is not enough just click the link and take a look at the website for yourself: http://www.shiningrocksoftware.com/game/ Happy gaming!