It’s true. Astoundingly polished and popping up seemingly overnight, Banished is a survival city-building game somewhere between the original Stronghold and the mighty Dwarf Fortress, with a delicious amount of depth. Taking charge of a group of exiles, it’s your job to help them to eke out an existence in the wilds, develop a settlement, and eventually grow into a small community.
As the solitary developer of Banished, Shining Rock’s so far unnamed champion is responsible for all areas of the development process.
From the website:
“Before starting Shining Rock Software, I had worked in the console video game industry. I wrote graphics engines, physics engines and general tools. While that was fun and awesome, I had a desire to make simple and fun games like the shareware ones I used to play as a kid. And so like so many others in the last few years, I’ve gone off on my own, trying making games. I’m the sole developer and I do all the software development, artwork, and audio!”
It’s games like these and the people behind them that fuel both my interest and passion in this industry; industrially slaving away on a product they have a personal stake in, with devotion to the immersion, quality and integrity above all. Like Markus “Notch” Persson, these very people are living testament to the fact that you don’t need multimillions and massive development teams and the meddling of publishers to create a game of eminence, and sends a sharp reminder that triple A’s days are numbered.
Settlements begin in Banished with a few spaces designated for wooden housing and a simple barn to store your goods. Strips of forest can be selected for clearing and the citizens you have given the job of logging to will get to work cutting down trees and returning logs to your stockpile. Using the meagre resources available to you, you gradually expand your selection of buildings and careers, opening up the ability to make the most out of the land.
There is no currency; instead your citizens barter and trade with what they collect or make from living off the land. Traders come by every so often with rare goods from faraway places, such as livestock and new crops. The population themselves form the most important resource at your disposal. Each individual citizen can be assigned to any of the 18 jobs, and balancing careers will be integral to gameplay. Overfishing or over-logging will make it difficult to sustain a healthy ecosystem, for instance.
Similarly, keeping your citizens happy, healthy, fed, clothed and educated will be just as important in ensuring that they can survive the cold, avoid sickness and complete tasks faster, as well as warranting the continuing prosperity of your settlement. All manner of disasters can strike: starvation, disease, hypothermia and even dangerous work can be the downfall your townsfolk, while overpopulation, pest infestation and harsh seasons will test your ability to keep your town afloat. Fires are on the menu too.
Stay tuned. This is a game I’m deeply interested in, and you should be too. The internet is currently ablaze with Banished fever; YouTube video hits are soaring and even a dedicated subreddit has been established. Many people have even offered to contribute to the development of Banished and the designer has mentioned possibly making a user toolset available if there’s enough demand.
Anyway, enough from me. Watch the video above, read the website and prepare to be impressed. It’s enough to make any city-builder’s mouth water.