Banished is a city-building game set with multiple interlocking mechanics that establishes a unique emergent narrative. Each game begins during spring before winter sets in. Consequently, you are required to fetch sufficient firewood, have an adequate supply of food and build homes for your citizens.
In Banished, the primary resource you have is people. They need their basic needs to be met – this includes food and shelter. This goes back to the game’s central survival themel. If the citizens’ needs aren’t fully met, they die. If you fail in leading them, you are reminded of your ‘feat’ by a permanent gravestone and an incessant grating sound.
To ensure the population continues growing, you need to build more homes and the younger people are encouraged to reproduce. Your population will face some challenges throughout the game such as natural calamities and fires. They are meant to test the resolve of the infrastructure you have developed. Moreover, there are diseases that test your populations’ health. The game also has occasional tornadoes that are meant to test how fast you rebuild after the disaster. Such disasters are devastating if you haven’t prepared yourself well. Pests can attack your crops and you consequently face the threat of starvation, therefore losing more people.
To ensure the community thrives you also need to maintain equilibrium with your immediate environment. While the other games offer unlimited resources, banished limits them. This adds a realistic twist to the storyline. Farmers can’t produce yields indefinitely, and fish in the sea get depleted. Construction materials such as iron and stone are also finite.
After you have used up the natural resources, you can search for more in different areas. However, if they have been completely exhausted, you can either trade or mine. Trading in the game is challenging as there are only a few opportunities within the year. The trading ships, on the other hand, have small spaces to carry large load quantities. Additionally, use of trading ships increases the risks of your population facing pests and diseases.
Every decision you make in-game has a consequence on your population and city. Certain city planning elements are incompatible when combined. As the survival process is never ending, the decisions you make amid times of great difficulty have a small but yet powerful sense of personal victory. The game oozes of human reality with the challenges experienced.