LTTP: This War Of Mine Review
War games are nothing new in the gaming genre. Year in and year out, war related Fps’s completely dominate the market. The mindless killing of whomever stands in your way is a venture that lasts for a dozen or so hours on a single player campaign and possibly hundreds more online. While these games are fun in their own right, when your kill count reaches hundreds, what can possibly be felt? You kill hundreds, then die and instantly respawn; the emotional response is supplanted by addiction, the adrenaline-fueled need to keep going. But what if you were to take an actual step into the warzone that you’ve created, not from the perspective of the immortal soldier but that of those trying to survive the warzone. That is exactly what “This War of Mine” aims to accomplish.
“This War of Mine” is a post-war sim that presents a vast amount of difficult situations. Will you opt for protection over a survivors sleep, causing them to be sluggish the next morning? You have enough food for two people to eat; who doesn’t get food tonight? Are you willing to kill to steal another survivor’s supplies, putting your mental state in disarray? These questions are what lay the foundation of how your play through will unfold. The difference between right and wrong is indeed justifiable, if you can deal with the consequences.
The consequences of your actions are what bookends the real feeling of desperation. The game unfolds in days and nights. During the day, you must scavenge your “home base” and craft supplies that will allow you to live a somewhat decent life in this war torn land. You will control three follows at the onset (while having the ability to gain more later) that you must not only keep well nourished and well rested but also happy. You can build things such as radios and can find books to keep the emotions in check. But, of course, you won’t have the luxury to build everything at once, and quite often sacrifices must be made. Certain people will not be fed, and others will slog around slowly because they had to stand guard at night in order to keep from being raided. After all, you are what you have. Luckily, when dusk approaches, you can become the scavenger.
When scavenging, you have a selection of various locales that present different challenges and benefits. Medicine, a highly prized commodity, is at an abundance in certain areas. But, armed survivalists, of which more than likely outgun you, often live in those areas. Is the risk worth the reward? In most cases the answer is yes, as you can usually sprint away and, if you must, shank them from specially hidden places on each area. Once you do decide where to scavenge, the next hardest part is deciding what to take. Your inventory slots are static, usually between 8-14 slots, meaning you will definitely have to make return trips. This is my one gripe with the game, when getting various characters, you can only have one go out to scavenge. It would be a much more rewarding experience to be able to take two, as you could more effectively scavenge different areas throughout each play-through. With only being able to take one, you’ll spend quite a bit of time running through the same areas night after night.
“This War of Mine” is setup with a beautifully dark hand-drawn aesthetic. The sketchy greyish-black lines really stress the theme that this is a dark and depressing world, and this fact is only hammered down with the eerily serene soundtrack. The two compliment one another so perfectly that it makes you forget that not a word is spoken throughout the game. Instead, text blocks and choices are placed on the screen, and simple clicks allow the gameplay to progress. When selecting a path in which you feel will be for the best for your group, be ready for apprehension from fellow survivors or at times, disdain. Stealing that one piece of food could indeed save one of your fellow survivors, but by clicking their image icon, you can get an in-depth look at how they truly feel about the situation. These image icons play a huge role, as they write your story with every decision.
Story is an interesting thing in “This War of Mine” because almost all of it is based upon your empathy. Can you throw yourself into this world and truly relate to these characters? Some can while others are just “playing the game.” The first time, I scavenged for supplies, making sure I snagged everything I could ever need to protect and furnish the home base as best I could. But, I made one fatal error; I overlooked food. The characters’ speech bubbles appeared saying how they’d love just a bite to eat. But each time I went out, there either wasn’t enough food for everyone, or I was afraid to grab it and miss out on other supplies. Then, one of my characters starved to death. In most games, this just means that person is gone, but in “This War of Mine,” all characters are affected by the death. My other character took the death very harshly, which forced her into depression. Her movements were slowed, and her hopes were completely vanquished from just a couple stupid decisions. In subsequent play-throughs, I easily fixed this mistake, while making plenty of others. That’s the beauty of the game; it makes every action seem monumental in the grand scheme of things.