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The Banished Vault's giant space cathedral will be lifting off on July 25th

A new strategy management game from the designer of Sun Dogs

The giant space cathedral from The Banished Vault
Image credit: Bithell Games

The next game from Sun Dogs designer Nic Tringali ticks a lot of boxes for me. Like Alice0 wrote when The Banished Vault was first announced seven months ago, the idea of exploring space in "an interstellar gothic monastery" is obviously an instant yes, but I'm also drawn to its neat, grid-like maps of its procedurally generated solar systems, as well as the haunting monochrome portraits of your band of exiled survivors. It looks stunning, and happily the wait for it is almost over, as Tringali and publishers Bithell Games have announced it will be coming to PC on July 25th.

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Born out of Tringali's love of board games and mathematical space travel, The Banished Vault will be a run-based game with dice, resource management and construction, they told me at GDC earlier this year. "[The Vault] is a big mothership, it's a gothic monastery, and it's like a big city. It goes from star system to star system, and there's a big inciting event at the start of the game that kills everyone off but your crew, and now you're fleeing and trying to survive."

You'll need to manage said crew, along with your inventory, fuel and resources as you travel through the stars, and your main aim when arriving in a new solar system is to accrue enough stasis so you can put your ship into hiberation to make it to the next one. You'll need to be reasonably quick about it, though, as you're also fleeing from the horrible apocalyptic force known as the Gloom, which will swallow up your vault if you don't make it out of the system in the correct number of turns.

To ensure your survival and make sure you've got enough resources to continue outrunning it, you'll need to study its wonderfully organised planetary maps, whose neat, top-down grid lines tell you how much energy it will cost to land on its various planets. It might, say, cost six energy to land on a planet, but only one to go into orbit, which Tringali says "sort of replicates how real space travel works in a very numerical way".

A grid map of a solar system in The Banished Vault
Image credit: Bithell Games

That line of thinking also applies to how your ships move, too, "where the more fuel you spend, the less efficient it all gets," they say. "So a big move will cost way, way, way, way more fuel than like a tiny little one." Luckily, you'll be able to make these kind of calculations relatively easily thanks to its in-game calculator tool, which tells you how much range you'll get from your fuel, how much it will cost to make a second move to land on a planet, for example, and what you'll need to make it back to the vault in one piece.

The other thing you'll need to plan for is what you're going to be doing on those planets once you get there, which will mostly be building things to extract more fuel and statis for the next stage of your journey. "One really, really, really important part of the game is every resource is somewhere," says Tringali. "There's no global pool of iron that teleports if you need it. If you want to get some titanium to go and make stasis with it, you have to bring this titanium and literally put it on a ship and spend the fuel and all that kind of stuff." Yep, I'm calling it now - I'm almost certainly going to bungle several runs because I forgot to load up my ship correctly, no doubt about it.

Assuming all goes according to plan, however, Tringali expects an average solar system to take "about an hour" to get what you need from it, while a typical run will likely have between 10-15 systems in it (Update: Tringali's since confirmed a more precise number to expect is between 4-8). Successful runs will also unlock new starting configurations as well, Tringali says, such as having six characters at your disposal, or two, or having unlimited solar system restarts or an Ironman mode, for example. I'd imagine this will alter how you play quite significantly, so it sounds like there will be plenty of reasons to take the monastery out for another spin if you want more.

All in all, I'm pretty pumped to give it a go myself, so look out for further thoughts around the time of its release on Steam on July 25th.

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