City building games have always been popular in PC gaming starting from the first versions of SimCity, Caesar, Settlers and later the Anno series. They evolved to the extent that creating a new city building game had become a real challenge to innovation and a new spin. However, the Banishment, sold on Steam, takes the plunge and really tries to do something new with this well-trodden path. And it has mainly succeeded in revamping the genre, which is great news for both city builders and RTS fans. As long as the latter are content to play a non-violent game.

Banishment is not about building armies and creating fortresses. There are no other players and no enemies in the game, which actually makes it more intriguing, since everything is in your own hands… except that is for the random natural catastrophes which can hit you but more on that later. As a city builder the player needs to be able to maintain a constant balance between the different factors that impact the smooth running of a city. The city grows by its citizens having children. The children are born when new houses are built, the houses need materials to be built from, meaning more people have to gather them rather than food. Once the children are born they need to eat, but cannot work until they are grown up, so there’s a danger or a food shortage, and then the winter comes and everybody’s dead. That is basically how the game works so be very afraid of disappointment as all your hard work might be wiped out in famine with one hard winter.

The player must constantly choose what to further develop and what to keep in order to maintain the population of the city stable. However, there is always the chance that a player’s luck will just run out. Losing a grip on the game because of random events is a common occurrence and can be annoying but is mostly a result of the player’s the determination to get things right so disaster can have a silver lining to it – you really see that you are interested in the game.

The graphics are just great without offering anything over the top that puts too much strain on the average PC. The isometric view is fully 3D and the interface is usable, and included he main game controls so you don’t have to go in and out of the game to affect actions. The seasons, animals and buildings are beautifully animated and drawn so the game is really nice and pleasant visually as well as generally showing good overall gameplay. A real keeper if you are city sim fan or just an RTS type of gamer.