The cold undocumented emptiness of Banished

This asshole should make a city builder game.

Thanks for the review, Tom. The issues you mentioned are perfectly valid and if they prevented you from enjoying the game, I understand the rating, even if I personally don't agree with it. You're my favourite reviewer, keep up the good work!

Then you should know there are achievements...

"Giving it a bad "rating", while every one else gave it good "rating", to
increase the traffic to this website is a bright idea. Not a nice one,
but still a good idea."

Ding ding ding!

The game is not rewarding at all. You can spend plenty of hours building your village just to have it destroyed by starvation or disasters. 4/10, I would not recommend this game.

Hey Tom! :)
My understanding is that Banished is an indie game placed for sale early to foster future development - at least, that's what Steam told me when I bought it. More and more games are doing this, so it begs the question - "When is the right time to review something?"

My take is that Banished is an incredibly polished foundation for a game that I'm really excited about. The core of the game is in. There's a delicate balancing act managing population growth and resources. Layout is crucial. You can get super fiddly and micromanagy (and you should when your town is tiny) or you can step back and let things run (which is easier once you've got some labor to spare.) There are a few innovations that I liked, such as the way citizens transition into the laborer pool whenever their main job is unavailable (farmers automatically move around goods during the winter, etc.) It also has a level of interface polish that astounds me given the size of the dev team (literally a single dude!)

I got hours of enjoyment out of Banished, and I'll probably spend a few more hours hunting down achievements. I was happy to put $20 toward its continued development at this point. I am VERY excited for the end-game to be implemented (as you point out, there IS no end-game yet.)

My point is, I don't think this is the time to give it a harsh one-star review. An evaluation piece is appropriate ("You can buy this game for $20. Should you?") But attaching a score to it seems really disingenuous. Will you continue to review the game as more features are implemented? (This all begs the larger question I asked above - "When's the right time to review something?")

Anyways, I really like Banished for what it is. I think people should buy it... ;)

"There are no goals, no scenarios, no unlockables, no longterm luxury goods or endgame wonders or upper level populations or advanced buildings."

And that's exactly why it's better than any Anno, or the new SimCity, or a lot of those terrible wannabe CityBuilders.
There's one mission. Survive Winter, and one side-mission, Survive Nomads. And that's more than enough.


Banished has diagonal roads. In fact, most of the things you bitch about are either well explained online or exist within the game.

I doubt you spent more than an hour playing it. You should be ashamed.

FWIW, it's absolutely fine that pure sandboxes exist, but plenty of people, like myself, don't play games to make our own goals and reward ourselves. If I were interested in being that hands on, I would probably make games myself instead, because that seems much more personally and financially rewarding to me than being handed someone else's playground built for their sensibilities and trying to shape it to suit my needs.

A review is and can only ever be a report on the reviewer's opinion of the item in question based on their experiences with it. This is especially so with media whose value is purely subjective and personal, like videogames, since at least reviews of utilitarian goods can cite some objective qualities related to the ostensible purpose of the item. Any other standards you're expecting are purely in your own head.

Don't be ridiculous. You think videogames don't have objective qualities and flaws? That's insanity. SimCity (2013) has a broken simulation system that makes some aspects of city building impossible to succeed at. That is an objective flaw.

This review is a hack job. The game is very good. If he didn't like it, he should have given it 2/5 or 3/5. A 1/5 score must have a justification beyond 'I didn't find this game fun'. Especially if you are going to submit your reviews to Metacritic and possibly cause a real life problem to somebody who spent years developing a game.

A hack job review like this one shouldn't be allowed to single-handedly make a game have a lower Metacritic score. Who does this Tom Chick thinks he is?

Does anyone care about what Tom Chick likes or not? How arrogant an individual needs to be to think that anyone who never heard of him would be interested in a completely subjective review? What did Tom Chick do in his life that was so important that entitles him to ruin the Metacritic score of a game just because he didn't 'have fun'?

lucky no one ever reads his reviews

Actually, metacritic cares what Tom Chick likes or not, so I guess that answers part of your last question. As to whether Tom is important or not to review games, I'd say he's about as important as most other game reviewers. Maybe less important than Bruce Geryk, who I hear is a doctor, then a doctor again.

An honest mistake! While the reviewer did study the Torah in college, I do not believe that he is in fact, a jew.

I find incredibly amusing the reactions to Tom's reviews. He is letting us know what is his opinion. Which you might or might not agree with. I've purchased games that Tom has reviewed badly, because of the reasons he gives to justify his rating. And at the same time, I've stayed well away of stuff he's rated well, because I have exactly the opposite opinion. And in other occasions, I wholeheartedly agree with his assessment.

Is that too complicated to understand for the present day and age? And for heavens sake, forget about Tom's review misleading Metacritic - a content agregator like Rotten Tomatoes, that is, good in the Middle Ages of the Internet, and lacking in the present time and day.

Saying the above, in this particular case I think this is one of those reviews that would make me buy the game. And the reference to Children of the Nile is a bit weird, specially because Tom only has 2 hours recorded on Steam (compared to the 12 hours of Banished). I wonder whether his accolades for Children of the Nile would be there if he had played 12 hours as well.

Just sayin' ;-)

Thanks for your comments, but Children of the Nile came out in ten years ago. Checking Google, I see that I reviewed it for Yahoo back in 2004. I've probably logged well over 50 hours with that game in various incarnations, most of them the boxed copy I still have here in my office. :)

Dave, Banished is not an early access release. It's sold as a finished product. Well, as finished as any videogame. :)

But I agree with you about early access releases. Which is why I don't play them and why I probably wouldn't review them.

Thanks so much, klz. It's nice to see a post like this to offset the gnashing of teeth from all the people whose dogs I've apparently kicked!

I stand corrected then, Tom. Let me say I had *never* heard of Children of the Nile before you mentioned it on your review :)

Aww, that makes me sad. It's a classic city builder that, at the time, was really subversive. And I'm delighted to say it still holds up, which is why I installed it on Steam and took it for another spin recently.