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By Amy McGarey On 25 Feb, 2014 At 06:28 PM | Categorized As Featured, Indie Spotlight, PC Games, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments
Banished gameplay

No GravatarFifteen people have been banished from their city and left to their own devices in Medieval times. Can you help them get back on their feet? Banished is a city builder/real time strategy on PC where you start with a randomly generated map and fifteen citizens who must survive harsh weather, natural disasters and disease. You assign citizens to specific jobs like farmer, woodcutter, builder, and hunter. The objective is to repopulate the map and have enough resources to keep your citizens alive.


The Trailer

Banished is about as open to interpretation as Minecraft. All of the things you can build are available right off the bat, all you need are the resources and the workers to build them. The game is incredibly challenging because you have to multitask. Not only do you have to keep your food supply up, but you also have to make sure you have enough firewood ready for the winter. Chopping logs into firewood is a separate job from cutting down trees, so you have to remember to tell your laborers to chop down wood. You also have to make sure your people have warm clothes to wear, so hunters gather leather while tailors make clothes. Then, you have to remember that all of these people need tools to work with, so make sure your laborers are gathering iron and wood so your blacksmith can make tools. It can be quite a mess at times.

The thing I like least about this game is that what you start out with is all you get. Because of that, the game gets monotonous after awhile. There are no objectives other than “don’t die.” You can’t really make upgrades. It’s not like Age of Empires where you can buy upgrades to help your citizens work more efficiently. It’s also not like Sim City where you can make advances in education and medicine. I realize this is a game set in Medieval times and isn’t meant to be advanced through time, but I would have at least liked to see the technology in the game advance through the period.

Banished gameplay

Even though there are no real objectives to Banished, at least you can use the achievements as guidance for how you want to progress in the game. Most of the achievements start at having a population of 300. After a couple hours of play, my town was only up to 100 citizens. The more you play the game, the better you get at managing your town. You also get faster at expanding your population. I think this is the type of game that gets better with more practice. The last city I built, which I named South Park, was growing fast and had more than enough workers. I had tons of food and I kept up a steady amount of firewood. However, earlier in the game I had turned off tool production since I had reached a good amount, and told that worker to go do something else. There isn’t any alert about being low on tools like there is for pretty much every other resource in the game, so I had forgotten to send my blacksmith back to work. Now none of my citizens can do their jobs and the blacksmith can’t keep up with demand. That’s an example of how once you think you’ve mastered Banished, you’ll eventually make a mistake.

Here are some tips where I’ve learned from my mistakes:

  1. Keep building houses! This is the number one way to keep your population growing. Your citizens have babies, and those babies grow up to be workers. The parents get old too, and die of old age eventually. In one of my earlier towns, I didn’t keep up with building houses and it turned out all my citizens were over the age of 80!
  2. Never turn off firewood production. At the beginning of the game, you’re going to think once you’ve hit your woodcutter’s limit for firewood, that you can send him to a different job and turn off firewood production. You will run out quick, especially as you expand your population. Always keep several woodcutters available to make firewood. That “Low Firewood” alert is annoying!
  3. Keep a couple laborers handy for when you need raw materials. These are citizens who don’t get assigned to specific jobs, they just hang out until you need someone to cut down a tree, or gather stone or iron. It’s really a good idea to always have laborers gathering raw resources.
  4. Create hunters and gatherers first thing. These guys gather food quicker than farming. So while you’re planting farms and orchards and waiting for livestock to mate, hunters and gatherers are going to be your main food source. If you have enough workers, you can build more lodges.
  5. Herbalists aren’t that big of a deal. In my last and best town, I decided not to worry about an herbalist hut. As a result, that was one more worker for something important, my citizens were still at maximum happiness, and I was at maximum health for my longest time yet!

The Score

With all its frustrations, I would give Banished 8 out of 10. Even though there are no clear cut objectives, it’s very rewarding when you’ve learned something new on your own and can implement it in a new town. As a huge fan of strategy games, I’ll be playing Banished for weeks to come.

If you want to get banished you can buy it on Steam or DRM free from the source!

By Inactive or EX ROG Staffer On 25 Jun, 2013 At 11:39 PM | Categorized As Featured, Indie Spotlight, PC Games, Reviews | With 0 Comments
eXceed - Gun Bullet Children

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Gun Bullet Children is a game that bloomed out of Touhou’s instant popularity. Coming from the already established  Japanese indie game developer FLAT, it was the beginning of the series of vertical shooters called eXceed.

eXceed - Gun Bullet Children

Gun Bullet Children is a simple game. As a bullet hell game, you’re going to be subjected to just that, an enormous amount of bullets and lazers coming at you from every way you have to dodge while gunning down the enemies yourself. Your main objective is to get to the boss at the last level and defeat him, the hard part is not dying en route. The enemies have a tendency to shoot in patterns and getting the rhythm down is an essential part of beating the game. Killing enemies will make them drop items the player can collect, these items are either red or blue. An essential part of the game is leveling up your character, which will make their standard attacks more powerful. That is achieved by collecting enough red items from enemies. Both red and blue items will increase your score, and when the score reaches a certain point you get an extra “life”.

eXceed enemies drop items

The game manages to create variation through two means, the difficulty and their characters. There’s not much to say about difficulty, just your standard, easy, normal, and hard. The variation that completely changes the way you play comes from your three main characters.

The three character differ in their three methods of attack: their standard attack, counter-magic, and bomb. With each character comes a new way to play, and mastering all three will require a lot of practice.

Counter-magic can only be performed if the bar that allows it is completely full and is filled the more attacks are dodged. Bombs are only available through lives, and each life allows for the character to use three bombs, once you lose a life you can’t get the bombs from that life back. Bombs have the ultimate advantage, because while they last you are invincible and can get in the line of fire dealing even more damage to the enemy until the bomb stops.

Tinatu Kagaya is the best character to play with because her standard attack covers a broad area which is great because you can indirectly shoot at enemies while dodging their attacks and her other two attacks obliterate every enemy on the screen at once. Every time she levels up the more bullets she can shoot at once, making her standard attack cover a larger areas and cause more damage to enemies.

Tinatu fighting a difficult boss

Sowel Devosiana has a “doll” that assists her in her attacks. Sowel shoots fire directly in front of her which makes it inconvenient when dodging attacks, but her doll shoots the enemy closest to her and doesn’t cause the player or herself damage if she’s in the line of fire, making her a very valuable asset. Counter-magic makes the doll shoot out lethal fire in 8 directions that kill all the enemies it touches and the bomb makes her grow giant and attack all on screen enemies.

Sowel in bullet hell

Now Miyabi Housen is the most difficult character to play with. Her standard attack is just a single column of fire directly above her. Her counter-magic is very unique because it doesn’t cover the entire screen like those of her fellow main characters, it makes two fire orbs revolve around her as a form of support fire and is only ideal when dealing with short range attacks, which makes it less than ideal for boss battles.

Miyabi dodging

The coolest thing she can do however is bomb. Her bomb is said to “fire a massive laser cannon” but it looks more like she harvested the power of fire and is turning the area in front of her into a fiery hell.

Miyabi's Bomb

As simple as the game play is, it’s quite addicting. But as much as I love this game I have complaints. The backgrounds are rather drab and only Tinatu’s bomb seems to last long enough to make the most out of it. Also there’s the issue that the game is an import (in its original Japanese form). To make up for it, Nyu Media has graciously provided a page with a complete translation of the dialogue in the game for those of us that don’t speak Japanese. The game also comes with decent voice acting (Miyabi is super high pitched).

Random symbols, can't understand.

What comes out of a computer without the ability to write in Japanese.

I’m not going to say much but be aware of your enemies, because come the following game you’ll be in for a surprise.

I consider this game a must have, the game play and amazing background music make this game. Getting the game and accessing the background music file will give a great addition to anyone’s video game soundtrack collection.

exceed bundle

As a first doujin game, this is excellent and the following games get better and better. You can get eXceed – Gun Bullet Children by itself for $2.99 but I definitely recommend getting the eXceed collection with all 3 games for $9.99, cheaper than getting each game individually. All these beautiful games are completely DRM free and great bullet hell games that rival classics like Touhou. Thanks to the localization team at Nyu Media Ltd.

The review for the second game in the series, 2nd – Vampire REX, is here.