This War of Mine

Good
  • Previously unexplored angle of war creates an atmosphere of difficult choices
  • Each survivor has their own personality and interactions with others that make no two adventures the same
Bad
  • Game throws players into the deep end without fully explaining mechanics that will force you to learn through trial and error
8.5

Most video games that explore a war theme have you take on the role of a soldier in the middle of the battlefield that is fully equipped with weapons and armour. This War of Mine though flips the switch entirely as it puts in you in charge of a household of civilians simply trying to survive a brutal war with what minimal supplies they can scavenge from their immediate surroundings. Making an array of decisions players will seek to keep their civilians alive for as long as possible as they battle resource limitations, mental fatigue, hunger and disease that lead to various endings for your characters.

this-war-of-mine-gameplay-livia-survivor

Exploring this alternative side of war This War of Mine splits gameplay into two distinct timeframes of night and day. During the day time players will stay inside their house with other survivors due to the risk of snipers and use this time to rest and maintain the dilapidated hideout that you’ll slowly improve over time (if you can survive long enough). When night comes though the gameplay shifts as it provides the opportunity for players to send out their survivors to scavenge nearby locations for supplies of food and other materials. Every decision can have real consequences and this is not a video game where players will be able to go from start to finish without some sacrifice along the way.

At the start of This War of Mine game players will be given a small handful of survivors that come with their own set of skills and weaknesses. With each having their own backstory it is easy to get attached to them as you survive each day and each survivor loss is always a sad experience although a highly likely outcome that you will have to face. As a result success will come from careful risk taking with a clear strategy of how you will face the harsh environment you find yourself in.

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Survivors aren’t all made equal with your initial pool coming from the randomised two dozen character presets that have their own name and portrait to help build a sense of connection. They also come with a skill and various statistics that will come into play during your adventure. Bruno for example is a good cook that means he’ll make more food from ingredients than other survivors although he is not capable of guard duty or comforting others. To top it all off Bruno is also has a heavy smoker addiction and likes to be argumentative so while an asset he is equally a liability. While other characters might have better social skills they may lack in other ways creating a constant balance of real human personalities. These personality designs are also influenced by character states such as moods, hunger, wounds, illness and tiredness with many leading to death if not properly managed.

In order to manage all of these you need resources and time which is where the risk of This War of Mine comes into play. During night you’ll leave your relatively safe home to various locations like the city hospital, supermarket, school, church, hotel, garage and construction site that each have various scavenging potential. Split broadly between foods, materials, meds, weapons and weapons these each can be used to improve your shelter and chances of survival although there is always some chance of encounters when adventuring outside of home.

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These encounters can be fruitful trades but also result in combat where you’ll fight with fists, melee weapons and if you are lucky enough firearms against other survivors in simple turn based combat. Even with victory comes loss be it physical injuries or an impact to mental health that may snowball into your eventual downfall. Other events that also require action can include visits from your neighbours and a whole host of moral choices that trade your own survival for helping others, should you give your medicine to a child’s sick mother, or save it for one of your own? Other visitors may want to barter with you, or even ask to live with you that might drain your limited resources further.

Summary:

  • Explores a different angle to traditional war based video games with a civilian view of the of impact of war.
  • Every decision affects your survivors in ways that can impact your chances of survival.
  • Thought provoking atmosphere that constantly requires a balance of risk and moral values as you choose your own survivors over others.
  • Each survivor has their own backstory, strengths and weaknesses and play like real humans.
  • Scavenge at night for the resources you need to survive while you craft within the safety of your hideout in the day.

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Review Platform: PC

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Written by
Samuel Franklin
Samuel Franklin is the founder and lead editor of the Games Finder team and enjoys video games across all genres and platforms. He has worked in the gaming industry since 2008 amassing over 3 million views on YouTube and 10 million article views on HubPages.

Games Finder is a Steam Curator and featured in the aggregate review scores data of MobyGames and Neoseeker.

1 Comment

  1. They may have changed it since the game came out, but I did not play this long before putting it away. I was glad to buy it and support the cause the game donates to, but the biggest gripe, for me, was the omniscience of your other group members. They’re all safely tucked away in the house while I go out scavenging, I take a bottle of medicine from another person’s house (without the people in the HOUSE knowing it, mind you) and I go home to find out that this one is depressed because I stole, this one is sad because I wasn’t compassionate….it ruined the game experience, at least for me. I realize it’s not a shooter, and it’s meant to represent the horror and despair of war, but the mechanics left a lot to be desired, IMO.

    Reply
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