THIS WAR OF MINE

PrintE-mail Written by Callum Shephard

GAME REVIEW: THIS WAR OF MINE / DEVELOPER: 11 BIT STUDIOS / PUBLISHER: 11 BIT STUDIOS / PLATFORM: PC, iOS, LINUX / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

For all the many times “war is hell” has emerged as a message in video games, many developers have always hit a snag with its delivery. More often than not this is down to it being tied to FPS modern military shooters, where the message itself is buried beneath the corpses left in the player’s wake. This War of Mine is the exception, jumping genres entirely and hitting home just how harsh the realities of war truly are.

Rather than being a soldier, rather than being embroiled in this war, the player instead takes control of a small band of survivors. With supplies running out, morale at an all-time low and the constant risk of snipers, you must find a way to help them survive a conflict they wish to be no part of. This is the real strength of This War of Mine; there is no glory here, little in the way of heroism, and there are a thousand and one ways to die.

There is never a time where supplies will be plentiful, and 11 Bit Studios never pull their punches when it comes to moral decisions. There may well be times when the player is forced to refuse to help children looking for supplies to assist their wounded mother or steal from innocents merely to survive. These encounters emerge and draw the player into new narrative paths, each having an impact upon the characters as much as the story itself. They are simple, minimalistic with little real stylistic flare to them, but that works all the better. This simplicity makes many of the actions all the more effective as there’s nothing to really distract you from the horror of the situation. Unlike other games, such as Spec Ops: The Line, attempting to tackle this subject, there are real choices to be made. You have far more freedom and a distinct option at every turn, there just might be none that you like.

Beyond a few minor qualms with an art design which is unable to decide between realism and stylistic depictions, never finding a true balance between the two, there’s nothing which can be seriously criticised here. It’s amazing that such a compelling, such a near-perfect title could come from something which is thematically closer to Dwarf Fortress than any major AAA release, yet here we are. This is as far from “Press F to pay respects” as you can possibly hope to get, and This War of Mine is a monument against any game tackling this subject should be measured against. This is a must buy which should be experienced to be understood.
 

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