Until coming across this game, I’ve been playing a lot of Cities: Skylines, which is, I admit, a pretty fun game. One of my main gripes with it though is that it’s easy. It’s not as complex a game as Sim City 4, and it can become samey quickly. Even my most horrendous looking cities with the most terribly optimized road systems and the most poorly mismanaged economies don’t do too badly, and the game suffers because of this.
So, in an attempt to fill the city-builder sized hole in my life, I picked up Banished. It is, for all intents and purposes, a city-builder, however, the scale of the game differs greatly. Where most will have you playing for hours and the end product being a bustling metropolis, Banished has had me fail at least three or four times and even in my most recent attempt, my small settlement has stayed just that; a small settlement. The game hides nothing from you, and all buildings appear to be unlocked from the outset.
“It becomes increasingly easier and easier to become overconfident and start yourself on a downward spiral.”
The only limitations are the resources available to you, and how you are going to come by them. My underlying fear from the outset was that this approach could lead the game to stagnate very quickly once the initial difficulty of actually getting your settlement up and running had passed. I’ve very quickly learned that this is far from the case, and this difficulty stays constantly difficult throughout and in fact serves to heighten the tension as the game goes on, as it becomes increasingly easier and easier to become overconfident and start yourself on a downward spiral. Yes, I know. I mentioned the word ‘tension’ in an article about a city-builder. If that alone doesn’t tell you this game is something a little different and worth picking up, I don’t know what will.
The game is a challenge. Not an easy one, either, even on the equivalent of a ‘normal’ difficulty. Despite this though, I can’t see myself playing it for too much longer. It’s not that it’s boring, because it isn’t. It’s not because it’s plateauing and because my village is now self-sufficient, because I can’t see that being an issue for anybody. In fact, I think that the real reason is because there is no end in sight. There’s no end state, and whilst this can sometimes be a good thing, I don’t think it is here. What’s the point in overcoming challenge after challenge if there’s not even a hint that my village will grow into something more than just that?
That being said, it’s well worth the price, and I’ve yet to find anything wrong in terms of mechanics with the game. It’s a fun little challenge, but I don’t believe it’s anything more than that.