This War of Mine
Genre: Adventure, Indie, Simulation
Developer: 11 bit studios
Publisher: 11 bit studios
Release Date: Nov 14, 2014

The Hype: We first heard about This War of Mine back at PAX East 2014. 11Bit Studios had a corner space on the floor where they were passionately showing off this game and Anomaly 2. In speaking with the team, there was a real excitement around This War of Mine. Even at the early stage of development, the team felt they had a compelling game which took a different look at war. Traditionally in video games, where a war is taking place, we’re often playing the role of the heroic soldier. Rarely has a game thrown a player into the mindset of the victims of war. In This War of Mine, you’ll get first-hand experience with how difficult it is for the victims, the ones who didn’t pick a side but are now thrusted into fighting for survival.

In Reality: War is not glamorous. Beyond the casualties of the combatants, there are innocents who are left behind to struggle to pick up the pieces. Thus is the case with This War of Mine. There is an ongoing conflict with an army and local rebels. Players will not be part of either alliance. Instead they are the citizens of a once innocent city, which has now turned into a war-torn battlefield. The game starts with three various characters co-inhabiting a bombed out housing unit. The characters all came from different walks of life but through unspeakable circumstances find themselves together in the fight for survival. And that is exactly what the crux of This War of Mine is about. Survival and for how long. During the course of  the game, players will need to find a steady source of food and other craftable items in order to survive.

The game runs on a Day / Night cycle. During the day, players will do activities such as sleep, eat, craft, heal, and even scavenge inside their own dormitory. Nightime is a whole different situation as you need to send someone out to scavenge various buildings, while the others are on guard in case intruders try to break in and steal your resources. This is where This War of Mine becomes a rinse repeat game. However, each time you go out to scavenge situations will be completely different. At first you explore uninhabited buildings and will gather items such as wood, metal scraps, herbal medicines, and the occasional piece of food. These early level buildings are precursor as whats to come. As you progress, buildings will be equipped with more items but they’ll also have residents. Sometimes you’ll be able to steal from unsuspecting elderly people, other times you’ll run into people who will want to trade, and then more often than not there will be people who are not happy to see you at all.

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Gameplay: How successful you are in This War of Mine will ultimately depend on how effective you strategize. A large part of the gameplay is about crafting items; all of which can be done with just your mouse. This is a point and click game and will not require a controller. You’ll need weapons in order to tackle some of the more difficult locations. The early buildings don’t contain much food and the ones that do are heavily guarded or locked down. You’ll need to come equipped with weapons and lock picking items. In your own location, there is a basic crafting table. From here you can make beds, chairs and simple window fortifications. The more resources you gather the better crafting tables you will unlock, which in turn will allow you to craft better survival items. The game is soaked in a somber tone as the colors are predominately black, and white, with various shades of grey. There is no audible dialog but there will be the occasional text dialogue bubble to read. For more in depth insight to what a character is thinking, you will need to click on the Bio link on their player card in the lower right hand corner.

Conclusion: This War of Mine is an exhausting game which will leave you drained after a long playthrough. Do you have what it takes to steal from the elderly or engage in a knife fight with a priest? These are some of the tamer experiences you’ll encounter. Rape, suicide, murder all have a home in This War of Mine. Technically this is a video game but it’s also an eye opening experience to see what it could possibly be like, on a daily basis, for citizens of war torn countries. In a time where big budget games are releasing almost weekly, 11Bit Studios has offered up a more intellectual stimulating experience which will make you grateful for what you have and appreciate the struggle others go through in order to survive.