”In War, Not Everyone Is A Soldier” is a haunting quote from the moral catalyst that is This War of Mine [$9.99]. And really, these petrifying words are what conceptualize the theme for the war-survival game that has just come out. While we have all experienced war games from the perspective of a soldier, we rarely have lived it through the eyes of a civilian. The average civilian is disadvantaged, unarmed, and under siege; for him, survival becomes a reality from a nightmare. What this game will help you explore is a rudimentary aspect of human suffering and it is this grisly element that has been the inspiration behind This War of Mine. This title puts you in a position of both, power and weakness, where you get to decide whether to save a life or go against your conscience to survive. Initially released on PC back in November, 2014 by 11-Bit Studios, the reception was anything but disappointing. It was a Cultural Innovation Award Winner, 17th Audience Award Winner, & awarded among the Best Games of 2014.
Inspired by the horrendous conditions that the Bosnian civilians endured during the Siege of Sarajevo (1992-1996) which was marked by historians to be the longest city siege of our times; This War of Mine takes a life of its own – simulating events that are most probable during war-related circumstances. We can never imagine the horror that the Bosnian civilians went through but perhaps This War of Mine will give us a better idea in regards to this tragedy.
The game is presented to you from an ”ant farm” viewpoint. Similar in interface to Fallout Shelter & XCOM: Enemy Within, you get to overlook the characters as you direct them from one floor to another within a building. You are in control of 3 characters that are trying to survive during an ongoing conflict. Your characters seek refuge in a wrecked house where you can fix and create items that can be helpful. At times, trying to manage life (or what is left of it) inside the dismantled house may feel boring but war was never something exciting to start with. Other survivors might come at your door as well and you get to decide whether to let them in or not. Some can trade items with you and others are seeking shelter; but not everyone is to be trusted. You are mostly unarmed & while all are survival-oriented, you never know which survivor is evil-minded; an atmospheric paranoia at best.
Furthermore, like any survivor in their shoes, they will work, craft, eat, and sleep. For example, when one character expresses exhaustion, you can tap on the bed to send him to sleep. Stoves, beds, and heaters can be crafted but you need certain materials because things are not created from thin air. This is where scavenging becomes consequential. You need to send one of your characters to scavenge for items and food during the night in order to continue surviving; it is this process that will endanger the life of your characters most. You are likely to encounter other survivors and they are not all meek and mild, so vigilance and caution become your main survival tools.
On the other hand, if you are forced to defend yourself and kill a person in the process, know that your characters will not react well to such incident. Killing a human being is never something you can merely live with and it is this sense of guilt that This War of Mine instills in you. Such feelings of remorse may cause characters to act slower, appear ashamed, and if undealt with, may lead to suicide. This is not the only way in how death can touch you; there are many other ways as well, such as: starving to death, getting shot, being stabbed, or beaten until no breath is left in your body.
The game’s graphics propel negative emotions such as fear, despair, and sadness with its charcoal-stylized visuals. Its dark-grayish theme sets the perfect mood for the low morale that the game tries so hard to induce. And its sad & moody soundtrack creates a supportive atmosphere to the visuals and gameplay of This War of Mine.
The controls system felt as if it works better than a mouse and keyboard. All you need to do is tap and you can assign characters to act as you wish. Everything felt smooth and we did not face any lack of registration or bugs.
Fundamentally, this mesmerizing title will create a conscience in the most unsympathetic of people. For its genuine portrayal of life during war, gloomy themed aesthetics, console-like rendering quality, ruthless flinch-worthy dilemmas, and unprecedented gripping experience; we immensely recommend this game to anyone who is a human being. In principle, games are supposed to leave us with a moral to guide us in life and it is in this area that This War of Mine prevails. If you want to face your darkest fears and ponder upon the most morally testing of decisions; then have a try at it. Whether you want to weigh your chances of survival against terrorizing the old or test if your human conscience will shelter another survivor versus letting him rot lest he might be dangerous; paranoia, remorse, and survival will intensify to the core. Click here to listen to our interview with 11-Bit Studios. You can check the trailer for this game below.
We rate it 10/10