by Derk Bil
reviewed on PC
Especially in the earlier stages, Banished demands your full attention. Intense micromanagement will keep your little society running smoothly. As the size of your town increases, so will the number of spare laborers, removing the need for much of that micromanagement.
There will be times when you experience a shortage of just about everything and see your society unravel itself. At other times, you will feel that you are in a good place to make a giant leap forward. If you are wrong and missed a tiny detail, then the carefully built balance will devolve straight into a smelly disastrous mess right before your very eyes. It may sound strange, but I absolutely love it.
Busy little ants
Even though all houses use up the same amount of space, there is a good number of variations to the actual models of the houses. That same variety is found in the appearance of the town folks who are scurrying over the map like little busy ants, moving boxes and cartwheels from A to B and making the town feel alive with activity. You’re free to determine the size and contents of your crop fields and orchards, with the only real limits being any constraints imposed by the map in the shape of rivers, hills and mountains. The result is that every single town has a unique, if quaint, feel to it. The game’s music, however, is so-so and I turned that off after a few hours. Luckily, the ambient sounds do live up to expectations.
The UI can be modified to show some elements at all times or to not show them at all. It even allows for you to put them in the exact place where you want them to be. Great, though it would be even better if these settings would still be available when you start a new settlement. Once you have built a town hall, you get a better grasp on your demographics, showing you information about your population, how many resources are used and produced and all of that in fancy looking graphs. The only thing that is missing is a graph that shows the age of the people living in the town.
Love it, or hate it
It’s not hard to see how someone may hate how Banished constantly punishes the carefree and unwary by putting a spoke in the wheel when even the tiniest mistake is made. The game is also completely uncooperative to those whose primary aim is to make pretty looking villages.
That certainly makes a cruel mistress, but it is also brilliant for that very same reason. Banished challenges you to give your best and if you provide, it will reward. Perhaps you need to be a bit of a masochist to enjoy the game, but it is easily the most fun I have had in a sandbox city builder in a long time.
Innovative, challenging gameplay with the feeling that there’s actually something at stake.
Minor stability issues