This War of Mine – Video Game Review

Title: This War of Mine
Developer: 11 bit studios
Publisher: 11 bit studios
Release Date: November 4th 2014
Platform: PC (Steam)
Genre: Adventure, Indie, Simulation

My First This War of Mine Experience

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I pulled the plug on my first This War of Mine playthrough at around the 14th day of the game’s day and night cycle. Pavle, the football player I relied on for nightly supply runs because he was a ‘fast runner,’ was shot dead by a soldier. It was my fault. I just stared blankly at the screen instead of mouse-clicking at him to run the hell away (During my second playthrough, Pavle escaped unscathed).

Katia, my other character, was distraught by Pavle’s death, despite being angry at him for stealing medicine from a hospital a few nights before. Letting her play the guitar helped lighten her mood a bit. But supplies in our shelter were running dry. Bruno was badly wounded during a recent raid and Anton was starving to death. Night came, and I had not choice. Katia had to go scavenging that night.

Only there were no more safe places to scavenge. The remaining options were too dangerous. Sluggish and depressed, Katia would never make it out alive. I had no choice but to visit this house in a quiet neighborhood, where a man and her daughter were just trying to live peacefully. I tried putting Katia’s sleuthing skills as a reporter to good use, but got caught with my hands in the cookie jar (the fridge, actually).

The dad was shocked. He was about to say something, but my gaming instincts kicked in. I stabbed him to death with a crowbar. I began checking his body for loot. When I heard his daughter running towards the kitchen. I ran to the next room and shut the door behind me.

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The daughter saw her dad, knelt beside his corpse, and began wailing. Two in-game hours later and she was still crying. It was just a minute or so in real life, but I just couldn’t take it anymore. I barged into the kitchen, ran to her, and whacked her with the crowbar just as she started looking up. I walked out of that house with supplies to last me for a week.

The next day, Katia was so distraught by what she did that she wouldn’t move no matter how many times I ordered her to. She just kept sitting on the floor and crying. She wouldn’t eat, or sleep, or drink coffee (her favorite), or play the guitar (also her favorite). It seemed like she would commit suicide (she would have, if I played on), so I decided to stop the torment and start all over again.

Coffee Bean and Tea Reads Video Game Review:

WAR NEVER CHANGES | This War of Mine video posted on YouTube by jacksepticeye

This War of Mine is not a game I’d call fun in the same way The Sims is fun, although both games share plenty of the same elements. I found it more stressful and disheartening than exciting and inspiring. After all, the only way the game ends is when everyone in your shelter dies. And one way or another—through depression, starvation, sickness, or injury—they all die.

Just kidding! You win the game if you can survive for up to 50 days. The war could end sooner, but it all depends on luck.

This game is all about survival. But unlike the role-playing video games I’m so fond of playing, I don’t get bonuses for acting good or evil. At times, it seems like none of the choices I have are good. Everything is a loss-loss trade-off.

Who gets to eat the last canned good in the fridge, the guy who is starving or the hungry guy who will be scavenging for supplies at night in hopes of finding more food? Do we burn the last book in our shelter, trade what little remaining coffee beans we have, so we can buy medicine, provide a warm, medicated night’s sleep for an injured housemate. If we do, the other people in the shelter will end up feeling lonely and depressed.

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The nearly monochrome pencil-drawn art in this game is beautiful. It also lends itself to the game’s melancholy mood. As the game description reads: “During war, there are no good or bad decisions; there is only survival. The sooner you realize that, the better.” This War of Mine is not a fun game to play. Often times, it’s downright depressing. But it’s addictive and engaging as well.

How long can you survive as a good person? As a bad one? What happens when you do this instead of that, just for kicks? How will you survive This War of Mine, this time and the next? I see plenty of replay value here, especially if I want to play the game as all 12 characters, each with their own personalities and skill sets.

I’m hooked, and I see myself playing This War of Mine many times over.

Coffee Bean and Tea Reads Rating

5 Beans out of 5
5 out of 5 beans