You are cooking a meal for you and your friends, not knowing when the next one will come. You hurry to your workbench with some common household supplies in hand, hoping to craft some much needed tools. Rubble is everywhere, but with time, this could become your home. Daylight is running out, your friend is sick in bed, who shall defend the homestead? The rations are running low, someone needs to scavenge for more food and medicine. It’s nighttime, the war outside has set the stage for the ultimate clash of survival. Welcome to This War of Mine.
The survival adventure game, This War of Mine, will test you every single day that you endure. The Polish developer, 11 Bit Studios, knows all too well of the suffering that occurs to normal folk in a war-torn country. The emotional influence set by Emir Cerimovic, depicted in the video above, immediately presents you with the words, “Fuck the War!” as the game begins. The artwork and environmental design is one of the biggest achievements for a game of this scale. The bounds of gameplay may be limited to a 2 dimensional frame, but every inch is used with a purpose.
The game starts off with a very somber tone. The art-style is of a 2-D frame of view, but layered over with a pencil drawn effect that’s always moving. On Day 1, your people are greeted with an uninhabitable home. With your first actions, you will be forced to clear out any debris and open up areas to build in. While clearing out areas you will find precious resources to craft valuable items. In order to expedite resource gathering, you need to craft tools from a specific work bench. Tools such as shovels, crowbars, and axes will greatly increase the speed at which you gather materials, and help clear any obstacles that lie in your way. You can upgrade your tool bench even further to make weapons for both offense and defense.
This game can be consumed in two parts. The beginning of each day will have you dealing with a strategy and resource management. At the end of the day, you will be forced to decide the tactical approach of your team of survivors. Each member of your party has the option to Guard, Sleep, or Scavenge. Nighttime scenarios will dictate your ability to perform during the day. If you make a decision, good or bad, it will likely affect every survivor in some way. Each of your inhabitants will display an important mini-bio to read up on. Chat messages will also pop-up from time-to-time giving you an insight on current emotional state.
Choosing who is physically and mentally able to perform at scavenge missions is rather straight-forward. If a survivor is sick or injured, you may want that person to rest for the night. If a survivor is equipped with a large quantity backpack, make an attempt to send them out for all of the scavenge missions. With any remaining survivors, have them guard your home. There is a chance that random thugs will show up and forcibly take your stash of goods. Depending on the state of the war, you may need more people defending as the attacks ramp up. Boarding up your house is a great way to secure your home and keep the vandals out.
In order to progress in This War of Mine, you will have a host of tasks to accomplish in order to make it another day. There is no difficulty setting, so keep that in mind as the game focuses on a trial and error approach. There are several ways to play, but some are a bit more stable for your group of survivors. Ultimately, your duty is to protect and maintain the well-being of your group of survivors. Should that be compromised, you will lose the game, and be forced to start over from day 1. It’s not an easy game by any means, but the more you play, the more strategies and play-styles you will discover.
There are at least a dozen levels to unlock and explore. Just as you begin to settle in your new home, the need to venture out and scavenge becomes more critical. A night of poor scavenging will result in dire consequences for the days to come. Planning ahead is definitely encouraged in This War of Mine. You never know who will come knocking at your door; so be prepared to make several moral decisions surrounding the conflict over the course of the game.
What type of player will you be? Are you willing to stand by your fellow neighbors as everyone braces for dangerous days ahead? Or will you become the harbinger of sin? The choice is up to you, but the decisions you make will last forever in the minds of the few that eventually make it to the end of the war. This War of Mine succeeds in capturing a dark and dreary point of view that is likely to make you think twice about every decision you make.