In recent years there have been plenty of FPS games allowing players to play the role of soldier; fighting it out in the bombed out streets of a war torn city. Uniquely, This War Of Mine allows PC gamers to play as a group of civilians trying to survive in the bombed out streets of a war torn city. The premise is simple: You have a group of survivors who are hiding out in a ruined house and you have to help them survive through the war until the ceasefire. To do this, the survivors have to make improvements and upgrades to their base while scavenging for supplies in the surrounding area. Sound easy? Think again. You can only upgrade your base during the day and you can only scavenge for supplies at night. This quickly makes time management an essential skill to succeeding. On top of that, you have to look after your survivors as well. They can become sick, injured, depressed and / or starving; which can lead them to commit suicide or be killed. Then there is the resource management side of the game. Food, ammunition and materials are all in limited supply, so how you use them and when is important. This War Of Mine lives up to the old saying: Easy to learn, difficult to master.
On the surface it would appear that This War Of Mine was just a simple management strategy game, however its the atmosphere it creates which makes this game so special. The art style is almost devoid of colour, creating a dark and depressing feel to the game; a feeling the music also conveys. When you are exploring ruined buildings at night, your character will have limited vision, so you have to be prepared to come face to face with a hostile enemy. Each character also has a Bio page, which updates as you progress through the game, giving you a connection to these individuals. Not only will a character’s death increase the game’s difficulty but it will have an emotional impact on you, especially if their death occurs later in the game. You will also come across NPC characters that will put you in morally grey situations: whether you will fight them for resources or trade with them; choose to save them or one of your own survivors. One slight negative that I found, was that that the text was on the small side and could be difficult to read at some points. However this does not detract from the overall tone and mood of the game. As the game progresses, you’ll embark on an emotional rollercoaster as you feel the paranoia, sadness and guilt. I found that the more that you play the game, the more it pulls you into its world.
Aside from the atmosphere, one of the big selling points of the game, is its replayability. You can either start the game with one of the starting groups of survivors or you can set up the game in ‘Tell My Own Story’ mode. This mode adds more play time as you can choose how long winter lasts, the length of the overall game and who you start the game with. Although the game does not have a difficulty setting in the options menu, it does not need it. As you play over time, the difficulty increases as you start to run out of resources and have to compete with the NPCs for survival. To be honest, I can’t say I enjoyed This War Of Mine, as its not a game to enjoy. It questions the player, not just over their characters humanity, but also their own. It’s tone and atmosphere, as well as it’s story, demonstrates there are no victors in war; just victims. This is a beautifully crafted game and if there is anyone who believes that gamers are desensitized to blood and violence, then perhaps they should read the reviews and play this game. Overall, I found This War Of Mine well worth the money and it will definitely be a game I will play again in the future.
Thero would like to point out that the first picture was taken directly from This War of Mine’s steam page and the other two screenshots were taken by Thero, directly from the game.