Games have never achieved the true feeling of hopelessness until THIS WAR OF MINE. The game sets you off in a Sims-like manner. Putting you in a house with a party of people, feed them, manage the furniture, gather resources and survive. More often than not, the game almost feels like a sad version of OREGON TRAIL.
THIS WAR OF MINE is not your typical war game. It sees you trying to keep a group of civilians alive in a country torn apart by war. There are two phases of each day. Day and Night. During the day, you have to manage your people inside the house. Things like crafting materials, cooking or just letting one of your men sleep. Sometimes people might knock on your door to trade or ask for help. During the night, you have the option to go out scavenging for materials. Depending on which location you choose, it could be as safe as walking into an empty house or waltzing in a hostage dilemma.
The feeling of hopelessness is unrelenting. Every single day, it’s hard to keep one person fully fed and nourished. The words “Tired”, “Hungry” and “Sick” damns you and makes you feel sorry for your people. Every night, you have to go out scavenging. It’s highly recommended that you do, this is where all those spare parts and materials come into place. Marko got back from scavenging and has enough materials to build a burner. Or you can build a filter to gather more water. Or a rickety stove to cook food. Or another bed. Or a knife to defend you from raids. Which do you pick? Which necessity do you choose? Which guy gets to eat good food and which guy gets raw meat?
Even with all those necessities, your guys need to have all those luxuries too. Cigarettes, books, alcohol. It will be a matter of time until they break down and lose their mind. But would you risk gathering cigars when your household lacks food and firewood?
And if you think that you can just get away with stealing stuff with other people, the game rubs it in your face that what you did was wrong. Your people will feel bad about it, they will comment about. In turn, you would feel as bad as they are.
I have to mention the gameplay during scavenging. It’s stealth and boy am I a sucker for stealth games. Conflict is possible, but it’s best to avoid it. Weapons break down easily and constructing another one would cost you a lot of materials.
There was a time where the military came looking for my neighbor. Someone who had stolen some food from them. In exchange for the info, they offered me cigarettes, food and some medicine. With my guys hungry and sick, I ratted out my neighbor. Heartless? Yes, but war does that to a person.
THIS WAR OF MINE takes war at a different point of view that is rarely explored in video games. Putting strategy mechanics in a setting where every decision is crucial and feels consequential is an inspiring move. It’s the kind of game that can change on how you see the world.
This game is so sad. A must play!
[written by: Melvyn Germono]