This War of Mine Review

Surviving the challenges of a war-torn world

“War never changes,” Ron Perlman, as the narrator in Fallout, never tires of saying. “But no, war has indeed changed,” Snake from Metal Gear Solid 4 retorts. Regardless of whose side you agree with, one thing can be said for certain: war changes people. Ordinary people far from the front lines, who nonetheless fight just as fiercely for survival in their hometown. This War of Mine is precisely about such people.

Who is fighting whom? When did the war start? What are its causes? None of this matters to the group of three people under your control. What matters most is surviving this nightmare at any cost. Or at least finding food to make it through another day.

Most of the game time will be spent in a partially destroyed house, where the infamous heroes lead their melancholic existence. Here they eat, sleep, communicate, tend to wounds, take medicine, and craft household items from scrap materials – in short, they play out a typical The Sims in gloomy tones. Many of the shelter’s inhabitants are capable of satisfying their needs automatically, but they still require supervision from the player. Especially when the supplies found in the attic run out, and there is nothing left to make a second bunk bed from.

The radio will help to find out the latest military reports and the situation in the city

The radio receiver will help you find out the latest military briefings and city news.

It is necessary to replenish the collective reserves at night: with the onset of darkness, it is suggested to send one member of the group on a raid for the necessary resources – it is not worth neglecting this opportunity, as well as abusing it. The surrounding locations are not only the main source of resources, but also a real generator of troubles. Despite the detailed description of the terrain, the real situation can only be assessed through a direct visit, which in reality can be much more dangerous than expected. Remember that you are not the only ones trying to survive in this city.

That is why – stealth, stealth, stealth. Careful exploration and minimal noise level will save you from many difficulties and the death of a character in an unnecessary shootout, not to mention the level of superiority over the enemy in case of forced combat. Although the heroes are capable of carrying weapons of various lethality, the outcome of direct conflicts is often predetermined due to the numerical superiority of the enemy. And ideally, it is better to avoid bloodshed, otherwise the dire consequences will make themselves known later.

This War of Mine Map

The catch is that all the actions and decisions of the characters reflect on their moral state. For example, if your protagonist steals food from the defenseless, they will spend days berating themselves for what they’ve done. This can be treated with preventive conversations with comrades, helping other groups, playing the guitar, or – what else? – alcohol. But there are also worse cases, when some night massacre with the homeless leads to deep depression, during which the “patient” does not respond to orders and only regularly updates their personal diary with their experiences. To get them out of such a state, it will require a huge amount of time and effort.

Adding to all of the above, random events like night robberies and spontaneous traders – and the overall picture comes to life. Tangible variability of gameplay emerges, and what’s more interesting, the real weight of each decision made. This is what makes This War of Mine interesting – initially, it only sets the starting point and the end goal, and everything that happens in between forms your personal story. It can turn out to be cruel and full of foolish mistakes, but it will be yours. Even if all the heroes die of hunger on the third day, your path to such an ending will still be different from the stories of other players.

This War of Mine Warehouse

However, as a spoonful of tar this time, there is a frustrating amount of conventions and simple assumptions. From the most obvious – the inability to send more than one person on a raid or expand the capacity of backpacks. It is quite understandable why these restrictions are introduced, but they stand out too clearly: a talented scout automatically becomes more valuable than his friends with inherent pocket defects, although the latter could provide him with good support in reconnaissance.

No less annoying is the behavior model of the survivors, which is abundant with absurd reactions to what is happening. In our playthrough, for example, one of the team members had to steal bandages from the hospital to save dying teammates, but instead of gratitude, the hero, already saddened by the theft, was attacked by the entire group, condemning his actions. The bad mood of these idiots had to be fixed with homemade moonshine, but even when they were drunk, they still seemed to stick to their opinion.

It is also frustrating that the daytime stage soon after the start of the game turns into mediocre routine. All the most interesting events happen either at night or completely off-screen, and at home, you just have to systematically click on the worn-out refrigerator and throw books into the fire – the level of enjoyment obtained begs for a comparison with browser games on “VKontakte”. If only once someone burst into the shelter’s door and threatened with a weapon while everyone is calmly licking their wounds…

Visual style emphasizes the mood of the game, although it evokes not very pleasant associations with I am alive

The visual style emphasizes the mood of the game, although it evokes not very pleasant associations with I Am Alive.

Truth be told, I also want to avoid combat situations. Just one skirmish is enough to understand how inconvenient it is to control with just a mouse in dynamic situations: instead of an attack button, it’s easier to accidentally click on the floor and doom a brave marathon runner to certain death, and in an extreme situation, you can simply forget to switch from gathering mode to combat stance.

Nevertheless, This War of Mine handles its primary task admirably. Even if you approach the game with skepticism, you will surely not even notice how you become immersed in the oppressive atmosphere and engrossed in the process. And you will be right – the opportunity to independently build a personal drama about the victims of war is worth it.

This War of Mine
Action, Adventure
11 bit studios
11 bit studios
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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