This weekend I’ve been playing This War of Mine, which is made by the Polish development company 11 bit studios. (And I here thought CDProject was the only big development studio in Poland!) With the gaming market overflowing with war games whose main objective is to shoot your way to victory, this one focuses on the victims of wars: The civilian who are stuck in the war zone with no way of getting out.
This War of Mine is a strategy game with major RPG elements. The gameplay is divided into two major parts. During daytime, you stay with your group of 3-4 survivors. They have taken refuge in a house and you need to make sure they have the beds, heating, food, reinforcements, and other comforts they need. If they aren’t taken care of they will fall sick or depressed. You also need to make sure to pay attention to the radio so that you are updated on what is happening in the war, or if there is any other special precautions you need to take in order to survive…
The most important part in this game is managing your resources. They are very limited and you will need to make some difficult decisions on where to spend them. I never had enough resources during my playthrough so there was a constant feeling of “just getting by” which really added to that desperate survival mood. There is quite an interesting crafting system connected to all of this and you will notice quickly that this is where the core of the gameplay is found.
During nighttime, when darkness falls, you can send one survivor on an expedition to collect more resources. I loved how this part was made, as I had some very preconceived notions on how the game would work. I am seldom surprised by games and can usually predict what to expect but this was a refreshing exception. Without going into details; I thought my survivors would behave like CoD-players, meeting other CoD-players, fighting senselessly. But this was something different.
In short, your gameplay depends on your own morale and level of desperation. This means that you can always find the kind of experience you are looking for. The important thing however is that you return before daylight, when the shooting starts again. This means you need to make quick decisions and be methodic during your expeditions.
The people you meet during your trips are interesting, deadly, clever, caring. The AI is well made so if you decide to go out stealing you will find that you need brains to succeed – people are not stupid.
In the end, I loved this game. It ticked all my boxes: Strategy resource management, house building sim, RPG, (moderately) scary exploration, scavenging for goods and living on what can be found, appealing design choices… There is a high chance I’ll play it again and it’s made so that you will want to: With each playthrough you can play with new survivors and go to different areas.
There is also a newly-released expansion which I haven’t tried. Watch the trailer, it’s gripping:
So in short: Everyone should play this game. It will make an impact.
8/10 water filters