This War of Mine Early Access Preview

This War of Mine Review Screen 1

Ron Pearlman once famously said “War. War never changes” as an opening to a fantastic game. If I may, I think we can edit that quote a bit to read “War. War depictions in video games never changes” Think about that for a second… every game that depicts any kind of war, or battles always places you in the shoes of a heroic soldier, or a master chief, or even a skilled pilot of a walking death mech. Not once are you shown how the normal people are handling these battles, not once has it been explored the effect that your massive scale skirmishes are having on the inhabitants of a city/planet/galaxy. That is…until now. This is exactly the story that 11 bit studios set out to tell in This War of Mine. You are not the hero; you are not a grunt fighting in a battle. You are just a little person trying to survive this war torn country.

11 bit studios, developers of the award winning Anomaly series has crafted a brilliant game that not only tugs on the heart strings but allows you to experience war from a completely different perspective. In This War of Mine the player controls a group of survivors who have found an abandoned building in which they are going to call home. You will begin each new game with three randomly chosen survivors; each will come with different skills and in various conditions. You might have one that is sick, and another that is gravely injured; skills range from strong but slow, and great at scavenging. When you first start you will have points of interest in your new found home, you will start with a work bench in which to build items, and depending on if its winter you will start with a furnace for heat. You will of course have to add fuel to it in order to get it going, fuel comes in the form of books, wood, or other scraps. You will be provided with a few areas in which to scavenge that will get you some starter supplies.

The game can be divided into two parts, the first being base building. Here at your base you will make beds, chairs, stoves, heaters, weapons and the like in order to aid in your survival; the other part is scavenging. The parts are divided by a clock, by day you are at your base and taking care of your wounded or sick survivors as well as building materials to help you better survive. Since snipers are out its to dangerous to move in the day time, so as night falls you are given the chance to explore surrounding buildings and scavenge for materials. It is here where things start to get really interesting.

This War of Mine Review Screen 4

As I said before you are in charge of three survivors at the start, once night falls you will need to make a decision. You have to have at least one person go out and scavenge and the other two you can either have them sleep, or guard your home, or any combination of the two you would like. There is strategy involved in choosing who to send out, for one each person has a backpack that has a different amount of space. The second part I will go into in a bit, once you make your decision you then have to decide where to have your survivor go to scavenge for items. The map will be littered with various locations and when you chose one it will tell you what is present. It might be Lots of Food, but a few materials, or Lots of materials, Lots of medicine, and lots of food. Again any combination you will find at these locations. The other thing that will be listed is if there are opportunities to trade at these locations.

The world is not just filled with the soldiers of war, but there are groups just like you who are trying to survive. And just like AMC’s The Walking Dead not all of these groups are friendly, I am not saying that they are zombies just people who are now showing their true nature in light of the disaster. When you go to these locations that have the possible trade it is always good to take some valuable items with you. Most people are looking for meds, food, or tools and you can usually get some good deals when you offer them those things. The strategy that I spoke above involves the woman in your group, it is sometimes more dangerous to send them out to those locations; and that is because they can be kidnapped or worse raped. As I said this game is a very emotional experience, and with the world breaking down around them people are doing very evil things to do what they feel they need to do in order to survive. You are not defenseless in these struggles as there are weapons in this game.

This War of Mine Review Screen 2

Weapons include knives, crowbars, fists, and even guns. Mind you in order to get a gun you have to pay a King’s Ransom in trade. But they do come in handy when you are being attacked by people who think you are trying to steal their items, which you can do if you want to. This game offers an unprecedented amount of freedom in that regard. You can trade with people, or you can murder them and steal the items they are holding. In one play through I came across a woman caring for her sick father and she asked me for meds. I didn’t have any that night but the next night I brought some pills (even though we couldn’t spare them) and traded with her. As I continued to explore the area I found my way into their home and in her father’s room, he cried out when he saw me and his daughter came running. I retreated to the basement and hid in one of the stealth areas and when she came down searching I attacked her. Mind you I didn’t expect to kill her but I did, seeing as she could not use the items anymore I took everything and retuned home. Upon coming back I had got some great stuff but everyone in the camp was sad and upset that I had murdered someone. My own character was upset at the turn of events and commented about what this world has come to.

I must admit that I myself was upset at my actions. I had no intention of killing the people in that house and I really felt terrible about it. These were people who were just trying to survive like me and I came into their house killed them. Its situations like this that tugs at the heartstrings because you realize that at some point in order for your own group to survive you might be forced to take a life in order to get some medicine you might need. Or do you just let those people die, and be honorable and never take a life. These decisions are always thrown at you in This War of Mine, and while this game is excellent that is not to say that at its current stage it is bug free. There was some pathfinding issues when I was commanding my survivors. There is also missing text, there will be areas where you will read something and it says {place holder}. These are all very small things in the grand scheme and by no way diminish the incredible job this game does at displaying what war is like for the people caught in the crossfire.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@brashgames.co.uk.

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