This War of Mine review (PC)

This War Of Mine is a genre-defying game that dares to be different and succeeds. Find out why this is one of the more unique experiences you’ll play this year.

A lot of war games focus on strategic troop movements and out-smarting the enemy, either in real time or in a turn-based environment. On the other hand, first person shooters give off the idea that the tide of war can be turned by the action of a single soldier hell-bent on shooting everything that moves using every weapon and vehicle that crosses his path.

This War of Mine is very different. It takes the setting of war and approaches it from the perspective of survival, essentially making this a survival simulator that’s nothing like the games genres mentioned above. You play as a group of civilians trying to make it through the next few months, weeks or even days alive – constantly confronted by a lack of food, (medical) supplies and the hardships of a city during wartime.

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Around every corner, there are moral choices. If one member of your group falls ill, do you spend your resources on healing him or does the survival of the group prevail? If a neighbor comes calling for help, will you lend a helping hand? Doing so might result in them returning the favor a few days or weeks later, but it may also spell doom. You might not be able to support an extra hungry mouth to feed, or you may find that their intentions are less than pure.

Trust and danger are central elements to the events that unfold in This War of Mine, because a distrust in others might keep you from approaching those who would have otherwise helped you. Put too much trust in others and you may find yourself being stabbed in the back. And then there’s despair. Your situation will eventually get worse, and you’ll find yourself confronted with impossible choices. Do you rob an innocent family of their supplies in order to feed your own? Despair might drive you to do so, but the outcome could very well be that one of your characters falls into a depression over what he’s done or he might lose the respect of his housemates.

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All this is done using very easy to use controls. In fact, they are so straightforward that there is no need for a tutorial. This leaves the focus firmly on the game’s core mechanics. Perhaps ironically in today’s videogame world, the lesson taught here is that war knows way more losers than winners. As such, This War of Mine has few satisfying moments in the sense of accomplishment and evokes sadness rather than joy. This, however, is also what makes his game extremely memorable and worth playing. Whereas most games opt for the videogame equivalent of the wartime action movie, this is much more akin the dramatic productions that focus on character development and immersing yourself in the lives of real people.

Score: 8.0/10

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