The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Banished takes the
concepts of city builders like Dwarf Fortress and Towns and refines them into a
wildly accessible take on the survival city theme. While the genre can be
difficult to get into due to clunky interfaces, obtuse or cryptic instructions,
and infuriating citizen behaviors, Banished offers a fairly intuitive take on
things and it’s also easy on the eyes. Players attempt to create a thriving
city that can survive starvation, disease, and the elements.
Your citizens start off
with a bundle of resources, and then it’s up to you to decide the best route to
survive and thrive. Will you build fishing docks? Farms? Orchards? You need to
keep your villagers fed, but at the same time you have to commit citizens to
moving things to stockpiles, chopping firewood, crafting tools, making clothes,
and a long list of other options. There’s no “right” way to do things, and the
map seed may play a role in some of your decisions. This leads to a delicious
bit of decision making each game, and as players go from game to game they find
themselves learning – and applying – new tactics.
You don’t actually have
hands-on control of your citizens; you prioritize tasks and allocate people and
to specific duties and roles. Alerts will appear onscreen to let you know when
people are hungry, freezing, dying of old age, or contracting typhus. In many
cases, these warnings will come too late – Banished is a game that favors the
hyper-prepared and the planner.
The first few games my population died from
starvation and the cold. A few games later, I was able to handle the more
obvious threats and fell victim to a disease outbreak. Each attempt to create
the perfect settlement gets more satisfying, and it’s quite easy to sink hours
into the title coming up with new ways to make things work.
Unlike some of the other
titles in the genre, Banished does not feature dungeons or monsters to battle.
The war is waged against the reality of cold winters, devastating disease
outbreaks, and hungry populations. Banished is subtle in some of its ways that
it can crush the player; even if you have a healthy stockpile of food and other
critical supplies, time may simply win out as old age claims your populace if
there isn’t a younger generation to take over.
Banished is an alluring option
for players looking for something in the same vein as Dwarf Fortress or Towns
but want something a little more accessible and graphically inclined.
Email the author Daniel Tack, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.