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.