This War of Mine is a project created by Polish developers 11 Bit Studios, and focuses on the perils of war from the perspective of civilians. With its unique theme and viewpoint, This War of Mine has gained a lot of popularity recently, and rightly so. Rather than being placed in the shoes of an overpowered killing machine, or a soldier as they’re commonly known, the civilian perspective sees us powerless and helpless against The Man.
Playing a small group of survivors you must scavenge, build and stay alive long enough to survive until the end of the war, when that is only time will tell. One wrong decision could potentially end with death, a result that nobody wants. Not only do you have to worry about the soldiers still roaming the land, but also other survivors whose only priority is staying alive and keeping their belongings safe and theirs forever more.
This War of Mine uses a lovely and unique art style which is mixed with photographic elements taken by the development team. Each of the characters used in-game are based off, and their photographs all feature real people. This gives the game a sense of accuracy, you genuinely bond with most of these characters as you play. The backdrops for all areas of the game are beautifully created, even though they’re intended to be war torn locations. The gritty feel of each location is true, I can only assume, to the real thing.
The game features interesting mechanics, during the day you can only move around the house you live in, scavenging for supplies in each of the rooms and building extras such as beds and makeshift fires to keep everyone comfortable. At night you can venture out into the world to find supplies such as food, weapons and building materials. Only one person can go outside to scavenge, the rest of your group can either sleep or guard the property. The day and night cycles are all timed, so you only have a particular amount of time to do what you need to during each cycle. Fail to complete your tasks during the day and the game will continue into night, fail to make in to the exit during your scavenges at night and you wont make it back home. This does add urgency, either do it quickly or don’t bother at all.
Death will happen, it’s inevitable, but it isn’t the games fault – it’s the players. So many times I found myself starting over due to the fact that one silly mistake got one or all of my characters injured and failing to bandage or care for them will eventually ended up with death knocking on your door. Despite my frustration I enjoyed how this worked, it made me take extra care when scavenging and putting people on guard back at the house.
Each character in the game has their own pro and cons, sending the right people out to do the right job could mean the different between life and death. Good runners will generally be able to get out of dodge quicker if things turn sour, good cooks will be able to make a decent meal and good negotiators will be able to deal with other humans better. That doesn’t mean you have to send out the right person, sometimes you have to adjust and make do with what you have.
Character needs and thoughts are displayed on their cards in the lower right part of the game screen, these will change dependant on what they need at that moment in time. Hunger is almost always present unless you can scavenge large amounts each night and sleep will crop up once in a while, poor sleep can be combated by making beds in the workshop. Pressing the bio tab on the player card will give an in depth look into the character and what they have witnessed, at this moment in time not all characters have information here, so I couldn’t possibly comment on this right now.
Characters also have emotional states, states which get worse if things go south. During one of my playthroughs I lost Pavle and Bruno: one to injuries caused by a night raid and another died whilst scavenging. My remaining survivor Katia was injured during a hunt and when returning home her emotions soon got hold, she collapsed on the floor near the front door and no matter how many times I tried to move her she just wouldn’t budge. After another night she came back with even worse wounds, she was now limping and every time I asked her to do a task such as eat food or make a weapon she would reply with “What’s the point?” or “I don’t want to do this anymore”.
Supplies and materials are pretty scarce, especially in areas that don’t involve any human confrontation. If you want to stock up on food, weapons or medical supplies you’re going to have to get used to either trading with what limited supplies you already own, or find a way to slaughter those in the vicinity – the latter being the hardest. The game really doesn’t want you to survive, so as the player you have to try your hardest to carry as many items of use as possible. So many times I died at the hands of bandits protecting their goods with fire power, I suppose you can only do so much damage with a knife.
If you do manage to infiltrate another groups hideout you can successfully steal supplies and get out without a scratch, it just takes time. Located throughout most of the locations are special hiding spots, you can access these and stay hidden until a local patrol has passed by. Several times I found myself racing to these locations to escape someone on my tail, mainly because I had finally found their food or medical supply stash, otherwise I would just bolt. The chasing AI aren’t stupid though, if you leave doors open they will quickly come to the conclusion someone has either visited or are currently visiting them. They will run around, alert other members of their groups if they have any and will attempt to locate you.
This War of Mine is worthy of anyone’s time, especially with its unique perspective of war. The game isn’t forgiving and it will test you constantly, if you want to survive you’re going to have to earn it. This War of Mine is a promising title, one which I can’t await the full release of.
The game is expected to release later this year.