24 November 2014

This War of Mine review

This War of Mine went completely under my radar, and I was made aware of the game from a comment to my Alien: Isolation review. As soon as I got the game I was hooked (you can get the game cheap on STEAM). This War of Mine is a rougelike game set in a warzone and has the player control various characters seeking shelter in an abandoned ruin. It is up to the player to improve the shelter, scavenge supplies and make sure everyone is fed, rested, kept war and disease free as you attempt to survive a siege inside a city. It's a dark, unforgiving and at times very depressing game that does a fantastic job in conveying the despair of the characters and the consequences of your actions.

Your characters can get sad, depressed, angry and your actions during scavenge runs as well as interactions with people showing up at the doorstep to your shelter always affects every character somehow. Turning down people in need may make some of your characters sad, while other characters see killing and stealing it as a necessary evil in order to survive.
Characters get sick from cold, and if untreated they can die from disease. They can bleed out over time from untreated wounds as well, and forcing wounded characters to move about instead of staying in bed and recover also adds to their health related downward spiral. 

Since the city is under siege food and supplies get more scarce by the passing of each day, you need to build water collector tanks, water filters, small animal traps and an oven in order to prepare meals. You also need vast amounts of supplies and debris to board up the building, create makeshift furniture and tools.

The game is rougelike in that it does not offer you any save possibility, instead the game autosaves at the start of each new day. This means that all actions and decisions taken during the day and following night when you are scavenging are final - which adds to the tension when your scavenger sets out to raid other ruins, military outposts, bombed super markets filled with other scavengers etc. There is a bit of combat in the game, most of the time you should stick to avoiding it since death comes easily - especially in the first weeks before you manage to get hold of firearms. Also wounded characters eat up a lot of rare resources such as bandages and it takes a while before you are able to manufacture bandages and medicine in your shelter. Character sent on a scavenge run also have a limited time to get back to your base, since snipers are shooting people as soon as dawn breaks so all movement occurs during the dark hours of the day.

The length of the game is said to be varied during each playthrough, so far I managed to get to day 23 before I decided to start over since my most valuable characters died from bullets and disease. The game is said to last between a month and a couple of months. There is a fixed number of characters in the game, but your group is randomly generated at the start of a new game, and so are the location, encounters and special encounters. I also think that you unlock new characters and places by reaching certain milestones in the game as I had basically the same 3 characters during my first trial games but received new characters after my long 23 day game that I ended myself. Anyway, you start out with 3-4 characters and only get new members joining your group every couple of weeks. Some characters have really good skills such as being able to carry a lot of loot, while others are less valuable and really only good for building and guarding at your base shelter.

With all that in mind I think the game offers great replay ability and truly weaves a real story each time you play. During my playthroughs I got a sickened feeling after having killed two elderly folk for their supplies as this was commented by the character when he got back to base (and after that he went completely depressed and was hard to deal with). I can't remember the last time I cared for the characters in a game or about their moral decisions the way I do about the characters in This War of Mine.

If the game has any flaws it is the lack of tutorial/introduction to the gameplay. This means that you will need to spend a couple of hours figuring out how everything works, what is good and in what order to build/do stuff. There are some guides on the internet but you will mostly need to learn for yourself how everything works which isn't that hard but some may consider it a "waste of time" and want to give the game a proper go from the start.

Still, this is one of the most intriguing games that I have played, and it is extremely addictive (probably as addicted to this game as I was to "FTL" ). Highly recommended for players looking for a quality game depicting a familiar theme from a different point of view.

9/10!

4 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Looks like a good game and will have to file it away for later...if I buy something like this now...I will never get any hobby work done!

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  3. I have to add my word here, in that it is indeed a truly brilliant game.
    The ethical and moral choices that you are forced to make is at the core and what makes this game so interesting. That your characters talk about the choices you make and are deeply affected emotionally by them only adds another layer. You truly get a sense of the desperation of trying to survive while living in a warzone.
    I noted also that it is set during the brief war in Bosnia-Hercegovina, giving it a unique setting.

    /Anders

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