The cold undocumented emptiness of Banished

The game is fun as a medieval village economy simulator, but as a city building game it is kind of shallow. The only human element to the game is the happiness meter. If it wasn't for that you could be managing a bunch of mining robots on the moon and the game would play the same. Your people never turn into any kind of real society, they just quietly do whatever job you want them to until they die. Because of this the game never generates the kind of interesting stories Tropico or Dwarf Fortress can. The game just plods along until everybody starves or doesn't.

Here comes a little deluge of people who feel you just stepped on their e-peen.

one of the things i appreciate about Tom is that he seems to always put forth an honest opinion about games. remember Civ 5? most people were very critical of Tom's harsh review, but in the end i feel like Tom was vindicated. Civ 5 wasn't a good game at launch, and most people eventually came to realize that after the hype machine settled down. Civ 5 is now a much better game, but i think Tom's original assessment stands the test of time.

that said, i do think that a one star review is a bit excessive, especially since some of the critical assessment appears to be about what the game isn't, rather than what it is. in terms of sandbox play, i love that this game is a pure sandbox. sandbox or 'open/dynamic world' are the current buzz terms in the world of gaming, but when people have a true sandbox handed to them, they complain that the game doesn't have any long term goals? i don't understand that. sandbox gaming should be about making your own goals and finding your own rewards - that's what can make a good sandbox game a heck of a lot of fun. SimCity 4 managed to capture this beautifully, and few (at least city builders) have done so, since.

personally, i would like to see more industrial options in Banished such as: fur trappers, bakeries, tobacconists, etc. city beautification tools would also be nice: gardens, statues, tree-lined streets, plazas, etc. but, maybe that's just the Anno player in me coming out. :)

maybe my opinion of Tom's review will change over time, but i expect a one star review for a game that is filled with bugs, won't load, or is simply a half-baked idea rushed to market (SimCity 5 anyone?). Banished is none of those things regardless of your opinion of it, and to put it down at the bottom of the garbage pile with so many other worthless titles is unfair, at best.

How could this sort of reviews be referenced in Metacritics?
It is totally unprofesional

Right, it's 'unprofessional' because he didn't like the game, and he explains why he didn't? Or it's 'unprofessional' merely because it's a negative review? Or is it 'unprofessional' because he gave it one star, which doesn't fit in with the nonsensical 7-9 scale which litters sites such as Metacritic?

It's unprofessional because he doesn't seem to have bothered playing the game more than one hour.. It's unprofessional because half of the review talks about what the game isn't and doesn't point out a single 'bright side'. I know it's personal opinion but when reviewing games for others is your day job, you have to be a little objective as well.

To me it seems that this particular 'reviewer' has played the game, lost all his villagers to famine in the first 60 minutes, ragequit and proceeded to write this piece of garbage that some call a review.

Between this review and the podcast I started playing Children of the Nile. What a great game and beats Anno as my favorite city builder. I'd say a near perfect marriage of theme, game play, and story.

This is a game created by ONE person. Not a team of people, not one programmer and one artist. A SINGLE person, someone who also has modding support in the works for this game and a beautiful slate to build it off of too. There is no half-assed combat where you amass your armies in one spot and fight and its over. You focus on survival and growing your town. Sure for some people who like goals it might get boring but so can Minecraft and look at it. Just because something is without a beginning, middle, and end story doesn't make it bad, it means YOU the player have to find your own ways to enjoy the game. The creators want you to have your own fun, not tell you how to have fun along the way.

For $20, I've already sunk 30+ hours into the game and still keep coming back for more. You obviously took no time to give this game a shot, you expected Thing A, got Thing B and threw a tantrum about it once you realized it wasn't Thing A. From your review I can tell you missed the Tutorial and the big question mark which answered all your grips and questions about this game and then some.

I definitely didn't miss the tutorial and I've read through the entirety of the ingame documentation. What makes you think I missed it?

You can check my Steam account for how long I've played. Spoiler: it's a double digit number!

Just to clarify, our ratings policy is listed at the bottom of every page. One star isn't intended to be a reflection of the amount of work that went into a game, or its stability, or its bugginess, or even necessarily a measure of its inherent quality. It's simply a measure of how much or how little I liked it.

Well, I'm not saying that at all. I have no idea whether someone should buy Banished. Furthermore, I don't pretend to offer any unique insight into the quality of a game. The rating is merely a matter of how much I liked it. Of course it's not going to be a one-star game for you if you liked it! That's kind of how opinions work, right?

But if you'd like to discuss something other than the rating, I'm sure there are lots more interesting things to be said about Banished.

Which city builders are you thinking of? Most of the city builders I've played -- I like to think it's most of them -- give you some sort of intermediate goals or framework for advancement. Banished's aimlessness is unusual for the genre.

Dan, there's a difference between hand-holding and documentation. And, no, the questions I've posed are not in the documentation, and furthermore, many of them are important for playing well. And I considering a lot of effort to play over and over, trying to parse the trial and error in a game with minimal specific feedback. Again, see almost any city builder for an example of how this should work.

Van Helsing? There are people still butthurt about THAT review? Really?

And, yeah, I guess I would like it to "be a different game". For starters, a solid city builder that helps me make meaningful choices and gives me a larger framework for playing. :)

I thought the whole point of his review was that there is very little beneath the surface and that shallowness is muddied by a lack of information being conveyed to the player. The flat nature of the game progression, the lack of population specializations, the absence of resource gated advancements (such as building pyramids or propaganda buildings in Children of the Nile), would all seem to support the game being rather shallow. Not to use shallow as a pejorative but rather what you see is what you get with very little to discover. This shallowness is muddied by a lack of documentation and discovery-through-error processes that makes a lack of information appear to be complexity. At the end of the day the systems are simple and theme is nonexistent, basically a boring Tropico.

I changed my mind.

The Reviewer is a fuckwit, and has no imagination, you've now given banished a bad score on metacritic.

Teh Horror!

Yeh dude.