Developer: Shining Rock Software
Publisher: Shining Rock Software
Reviewed on: PC
The AI in Banished is also extremely good. I don’t think there was a single point where I became frustrated with the citizens, as they always did what they were told and carried out their day-to-day functions without a hitch. If they got cold, they looked for shelter; if they were hungry, they went to the storage barn; if they needed to move resources to a building plot then they just got on with it. It was crucical for the game to get this right in order to appear alive and intelligent, even if what they’re actually doing isn’t exactly rocket science. Nonetheless: if they’re doing something wrong then it’s usually down to something stupid you have done.
Banished has a tendency to hypnotise you with its visuals. Watching the seasons roll into each other is a genuinely calming experience – watching trees sway in the summer breeze, shed their leaves in winter and then jump to life in spring is enjoyable to watch. Let’s not forget that this game has been created by one man who has not only put together a great interface, decent AI, and city building mechanics that will appeal to many, but he’s also created all the art. Quite outstanding, because the game looks great.
Speaking to Luke last year he made is clear that Banished is not about forcing challenges on players, but a city builder that lets you do what you want and in whatever order you wish. With no real tech tree requirements on building and rudimentary crafting at locations such as the tailor and blacksmith, there’s a foundation here for a more expansive Banished.
The game’s limitations have their pros and cons. On the plus side you can just play the game and watch the world and it’s citizens grow over time with no real pressure. On the negative side this could become a little mundane for fans of the genre looking for a real challenge. Don’t get me wrong – the game is challenging, especially at the start, but the lack of features in the late game let it down.
Before bring this review to a close there is one really important fact that needs to be pointed out: Shining Rock is currently working on a mod tool set and that excites me. The core game is a fantastic foundation and to have the feature set expanded with the backing of a creative mod-making community would be fantastic. I also hope that the game continues to be developed over time by Luke because having a few “official” additions released would be a huge plus that could bring players back once they have done everything in the core game.
This has been an incredibly hard game to review for the simple reason that the game plays great, but in its shipped form, it may not have enough content to keep you completely engrossed for weeks on end. Despite the potential offered by the forthcoming mod tools, we have to score it based on the core game and not what may or may not happen in the future. That said, I have no doubt that with more input from players and Shining Rock in the weeks and months ahead it could shape up to be a highly engrossing feature-packed city builder.
If you love city builders then this is definitely worth a look at $19.99. Just be prepared to wait for more content to arrive in the future either from fans or Shining Rock.
For a few tips to help you, check out our Banished guide.