I finally bought a game on my ever increasing Steam wish list: Banished by Shining Rock Software. Steam is an online service that sells video games and a variety of development, production and design programs. The game catalogue has over 3,500 titles including the latest popular releases and old school classics. However it’s the indie games I enjoy discovering and they don’t get more indie than Banished.
According to their website, “Shining Rock Software has only a single developer doing all the software development, artwork, and audio.” That’s impressive to me because Banished is a complicated game. It’s a city-building strategy game where the player’s responsible for primarily: keeping the settlers alive and secondarily: ensuring the community’s growth and wellbeing.
The little humans have needs: shelter, clothing, sustainable food supplies, etc. and the player plans it all. You start with a group of people and depending on the chosen difficulty level, some resources, livestock and even buildings. The game alerts you to low reserves and then it’s your job to restore the balance or your little humans die. The player doesn’t just decide where buildings go but assigns tasks to able-bodied adults. However it’s important to remember that lack of one kind or another could be disastrous, especially if you decide to have natural disasters too.
When the game goes your way, the villagers have roofs over their heads, warm hearths and full bellies. This leads to babies being born who’ll grow up to join the workforce and eventually needing homes of their own. Their happiness is important too so other buildings like churches, schools and taverns can be built. However if you’re not paying attention, the situation can deteriorate very quickly. If there isn’t enough food, they starve to death. If there isn’t enough firewood or warm clothing, they freeze to death. Although there are no wizards, monsters, war or even money in this game, your little society can completely fall apart.
I watched TotalBiscuit’s review and Day played it as part of his Day Off series. By the way, you can get a free month for subscribing to Day’s Twitch channel which is USD $5 per month regularly. Despite what you may have heard about mean gamers, the Day Knights are positively lovely people. Now Banished kicked his butt. He studied the tutorials first, which you must do, and played the first game on easy, which you should do. TotalBiscuit had a hard time too. Now these are very smart guys and I’ve never played a game like this before, so despite being a fairly intelligent woman…my little people may be goners.
I created my first game on Friday night. It’s a test village called Wynnewington which has survived for three years so far and nobody’s died. Yay! Admittedly it’s on easy mode with no chance of natural disasters but that’s why I called it a test village; but seriously I breathe a sigh of relief when winter passes without mortalities. Eventually I’ll start over and adjust the settings for a more challenging scenario. Hopefully I won’t lose too many of my tiny people in the process.
Feel free to buy the game and build your own little community too, if for no other reason than to support Shining Rock Software. This game is the result of one person’s hard work, dedication and brilliance. There are so many moving parts that work seamlessly, all with graphics and a pretty soundtrack to boot. Banished is currently available for USD $5.99 until March 2, 2015 as part of Steam’s 70% off special. After that the price reverts to USD $19.99 which is still a heck of a bargain to me.