I took a trip back to Italy last month, which was great fun, but it meant that my gaming activity was non-existent. Arriving back home in Melbourne, my hard drive proceeded to shit itself while gifting me with the blue screen of death. Thankfully Samsung came to the party and rescued me, but I lost a bunch of data that I hadn’t backed up. Because I’m an idiot, obviously.

But now I’m back, and I’ve been playing Banished. Developed by one man over the course of three years, it’s a tiny city-builder which has arguably the best balance of any of these games that I’ve ever played. Seriously. This guy has thought of everything. And I was aiming to write a whole series of posts where I would break down the game’s intricacies for your benefit and to show how smart I am at working this stuff out. But then I thought better because, you know what? It’s more fun to just work this stuff out for yourself.

But I will talk about the game in a general sense. You start with a bunch of people who have been banished from their former community for questioning the wisdom of believing in anthropological climate change … (okay, I made that bit up), and your measly group has to survive and prosper in their new home. I recommend playing on hard setting because … well, because it’s harder for a start and that’s more fun in these types of games. But also it kind of helps you a bit in that it doesn’t lead you down any false paths which the easier settings tend to do. So you get about 20 people and a cart with some food and clothes and tools, and then you’re on your own.

Better start chopping down trees and putting away piles of rock. And then you’re going to need to build shelter, and ways of producing food, and methods to replace your clothes and tools that are wearing out, and did I mention that you grew your population too fast and now everyone is starving to death before your eyes, so you keep your population down but now everyone is dying of old age because you didn’t think to build new houses so families could have some fucking privacy before they do the naughty so they aren’t making any children and what children you do have grow up to be dumb morons because you didn’t bother to educate them and do you see what I mean about this being balanced?

On the game’s forum there is a long thread with suggestions for the developer of additions he should make to the game, things such as bee-keeping and the like. And there is a growing call for him to introduce the option of modding the game. But that would be a mistake, because he has balanced his creation perfectly. Any addition would tip the balance one way or another. You don’t want to do that to a perfect game, and this really is the perfect city builder. So have fun working it out.