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Game Review: Banished

 

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“Banished” is hard. Extremely hard. So hard, in fact, that I was really only able to make any progress on the easiest difficulty. Set in the medieval times, you’re charged with the task of building and expanding your city. In the beginning, you start with a limited amount of resources and a small number of villagers.

 

You assign each villager to a job. However, each villager is unique and has an age and his or her own ambitions, happiness and health. For example, a new villager to your town may only be an infant and must grow to a certain age before he or she can begin to be a productive member of your society. You can’t send a four year old to work in the coal mines and expect any amount of decent return in long-term, except for the death of the poor child.

 

The goal in “Banished” is to build the biggest city possible without failure, which proves to be an extremely difficult task given that you must manage over eleven different types of resources, twenty different types of jobs, the overall happiness of your villagers, the overall health of your villagers, efficient transportation of your villagers from one location to another, a healthy marketplace and even managing the recovery effort of natural disasters.

 

These are only to name a few of the types of management that you’ve got to do in order to keep your town from dying from starvation or being decimated by natural disaster, like a tornado or a fire. In order to keep things fresh with each new start of the game, “Banished” utilizes procedure-generated content, which changes the type of environment you start in. Currently, there are only two biomes available — mountains and valleys — in three different sizes.

 

In “Banished,” there are no offensive or defensive units. This game isn’t about building the biggest army you can and invading other towns — there’s no multi-player component. It’s strictly about building the largest, most peaceful and most efficient city that you can.

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In my first few play-throughs, I found myself getting upset at the game’s difficulty when my villagers would seemingly disobey my commands and willingly stop gathering food, essentially starving themselves to death. I later learned that this was actually my own fault, as I wasn’t giving my villagers the necessary tools to keep gathering food or sufficient heating materials to warm their houses.

 

When your town grows, your villagers will naturally require more resources to provide for themselves. Therefore, you will need to carefully execute not only the building of your farms, fishing docks, hunting cabins, orchards and pastures, but also the location of your storage barns. Store them too far away from your houses and your villagers will go hungry.

 

Overall, “Banished” isn’t the type of game where you can expect to build random stuff and expect your town to thrive. You have to carefully address the needs of your citizens in order to progress further in the game. If you like the kind of game where you aren’t afraid to kill your whole town because you decided to build another tavern instead of another farm, then “Banished” is certainly the game for you.

 

Collegian Entertainment Reporter Diego Carrera can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com. 

 

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