GAME NAME: This War of Mine
DEVELOPER(S): 11 bit studios
PUBLISHER(S): 11 bit studios
PLATFORM(S): Microsoft Windows (Reviewed), OS X,Linux, iOS
RELEASE DATE(S): November 14, 2014
This War of Mine is an emotionally charged action-adventure game. Inspired by the Siege of Sarajevo, you control your band of sometimes merry civilians and (hopefully) survive the war. If you want your adrenaline pumping and your fists to clench, this is the game for you.
The gameplay is point and click style. Your characters do act on their own accord when they are not being used but you control their crafting, scavenging, murdering, etc. When your characters are not doing any of this, they are giving into their various habits if you have the supplies. Smoke, anyone?
You spend your day hiding inside of your shelter due to snipers. As the game progresses, improvements must be made on your house to survive. When you check your inventory your people give you a lowdown of what they need. Cigarettes, coffee, an armchair are a few things that your new family insists upon.
At night is when the real fun starts. Different locations become accessible as time goes on and you find yourself in various predicaments. Should you steal from people? No… But are your people starving to death? Yes. Locations vary from visiting a brothel to possibly stealing from a sick elderly couple. Depending on the season or amount of war conflict some areas will eventually be cut off and may or may not reopen.
If you do decide to steal, depending on who you are stealing from, there are repercussions. Some characters don’t mind stealing from people while others become sad, depressed, or worse. Random instances occur that force you to decide whether you want to give up supplies, help your neighbors, or barter with Franko the Rip Off.
The difficulty varies depending on what scenario you choose. As you play you unlock more scenarios, and can even “make your own story” by controlling what characters you have, how long winter is, when ceasefire happens, etc.
When I first started playing this game, I didn’t like it. You aren’t given any instructions and are forced to learn as you go. After walking up to someone who I assumed was friendly, I ended up with a dead character and restarted my game. It turns out men with guns are NOT your friend.
As I played, I started to grow attached to different characters. When I would manage to kill one I would get frustrated and restart my story in honor of my fallen brethren. 31 hours later and I have managed to beat the game on only one scenario. You are occasionally reminded of your good deeds throughout the game and get updates on people you have helped/saved. The ending gives you an epilogue of the good things you did, the bad things you did, and what your characters went through. You are even given an update on what happens to them after the war which follows their story line.
Your personal play style greatly effects how your game experience will be. I am not one for conflict so I tried to do as much sneaking as I could. I also don’t like to steal from old people, so I mainly raided places like the brothel or warehouse. If you are braver than I your gameplay will be extremely different. With a handy assault rifle in hand, you can decimate anything you please. Your characters may not like it though. You can make up for this by helping the little kids who show up to get medicine for their sick mother or fixing a broken guitar on your craft bench.
The background scenery is almost sketch-like, but your characters are slightly pixel-y. The locations itself are rather clear looking. Though things are not highlighted in black like most interactive games, you are shown what you can interact with by little action bubbles. How you interact with things changes whether you are scavenging or in attack mode.
The game takes a little bit to get into, but stick with it. You will soon find yourself in a point-and-click bubble of chaos and emotional turmoil. This is the first game I’ve played in a very long time that I have felt guilty for doing certain things but felt proud of helping others. If you want a slightly over priced and very violent Sims game that plays the same few sound loops over and over again, this is the game for you.
I would suggest playing enough to get most of the scenarios unlocked until you find one that is enjoyable. It was very frustrating to have practically useless characters but still having to feed them. It was also rather annoying to have people constantly whining about the lack of cigarettes. I understood that this was the developers intent, no matter how annoying it was to see Bruno constantly whining. There were some people that I didn’t prioritize feeding because they really had no purpose.
The controls were a bit buggy at times which is my only real complaint. You can double click to run to things, and sometimes my character just didn’t feel like it. The combat is also questionable as well. Sometimes you shoot your gun point blank at someone and nothing happens. They return the shot, and you are dead in a couple hits. Another minor annoyance is that you can only scavenge with one person at a time.