PAX East 2014: Hands on with This War of Mine

As you walk the floor of PAX East, you will encounter many different types of people hyping their latest game. There are the over-the-top hype-men/women offering you shirts to play their game. There are those who don’t acknowledge you because maybe your badge doesn’t have the credentials on it that excites them. And then there are exhibitors who are eager for you to play their game and therefore take the time to explain, demonstrate and finally solicit your feedback to help shape the game. The latter is true of Pawel Miechowski; senior writer and exhibitor of This War of Mine.

Pawel and his team are very passionate about their game. Where they live in Poland, it is only about 6 hours away from some of the recent wars that have been going on in Eastern Europe. Earlier this year when Pawel’s colleague, Michal Drozdowski, was asked about what has inspired them to make This War of Mine, he had this to say, ““While designing a new game, we came across an article that described how one man survived in a besieged city. We learned about his hardships and the horror of that experience. We decided to work around this idea and make something real, something that moves people and make them think for a second. It’s about time that games, just like any other art form, start talking about important things.”

When Pawel took the time to explain This War of Mine, you can sense the seriousness of his tone. They want this game to provide some understanding of what it is like to be a person trying to survive the war. Plenty of games put you in control of the soldiers who are fighting but not many, if any, let you play as the survivor, the hunted, and essentially the casualty-to-be.

This_War_Of_Mine_Artwork_01
This War of Mine
is a survival simulation experience that finds it’s rhythm by the ongoing cycle of day and night. When daylight is at it’s strongest, survivors will need to remain inside to hideaway from snipers who are on high alert. During this time, players should remain busy by making repairs to their hideout, crafting items they found from the scavenge the night before, trading with other survivors, and tend to those who maybe ill. At night, with darkness as your friend, will be the time to leave your structure and search for items that will keep you alive, such as food, supplies, medicine, and whatever else you can locate.

As a side-scrolling game, players will have the ability to move up and down buildings to find new items. Some buildings will allow you to move freely amongst the structure, while others will contain puzzle elements such as locked doors or doors that are blocked by an object. Players will then have to find another way around or locate keys. As you locate items throughout these buildings, you’ll want to add them to your backpack. You can carry a fair amount of items but you won’t be able to carry everything so you need to juggle how many of each item you want to take with you. Once done with your daily tasks, you can force the game to go to it’s next daily cycle.

Screen_03

Aesthetically, the game has a somber tone to it. The charcoal-stylized art hammers home that war is not glorious like it is portrayed on TV. Instead it is real, it is a slow grind to push on to the next day and it has real consequences. For those who are looking for an action-adventure game, look elsewhere. This War of Mine is a slow-burn, much like I would imagine real war to be like. In the early stages of what we played, it’s a game that challenges your mind emotionally as you struggle to make decisions that are best for you and the survival of your group.

This War of Mine will be released later in 2014 for PC and mobile devices.