Banished (Impressions: Four Hours)Well, this is quite a game.
It was made by one person (with his brother making the music). It represents an undiluted vision of survival for a group of people abandoned by their brethren.
There are certain obvious commonalities with Dwarf Fortress (this is a huge compliment). It was made by brothers. It starts with a small group left alone in the wilderness to survive. It is unforgiving of mistakes.
It's not nearly as intricate as DF (nothing is, because DF is probably the most intricate game ever made), but it succeeds extremely well on its own terms.
What are its terms? The terms are that you play the game with a survival mentality, because if you don't, you won't survive. And not surviving can be very ugly, with disease and starvation. So you prioritize and plan, because over-expansion will destroy you.
This is a careful game.
It's also a game that moves slowly, and I mean that in a good way. I think my little village has gained about ten people in population in four years (roughly doubling). The slow pace of growth means that every single person in the village is extremely important to the future of the village. They have value.
I struggle every year with resources and food, and I feel that's how a game with this theme should play. I shouldn't be able to min/max my way to utter prosperity. There should be difficult decisions to make.
A few other notes. The game world is beautiful and full of life and detail. It's staggering that one person could create this level of graphical quality. The music and sound palette are both perfect complements to the graphics, and both set just the right mood.
Also, the interface particularly stands out, because it's just brilliant. In a game where there is so much information to manage, the interface is clean and substantially intuitive. I can do everything I need to do with just one or two clicks.
Here are a few notes that will help you when you start playing the game. First, don't speed up time. It's very easy to compress the time scale up to 10x, but you can use all that time to poke around the world and learn the interface, and believe me, it makes the learning curve go much more smoothly. Second, greed will kill you. Think in terms of basic survival needs (food and shelter). If you try to triple the footprint of your village in one year, it's probable that you won't have devoted enough time to growing and gathering food. Once everyone in your village has starved, the next occupants will have plenty of nice buildings to enjoy.
Here's the game website: Banished. This is a special game, and it deserves your attention.