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Posted on: August 3, 2014
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NTZ Game Review: This War of Mine



Intro: Not your typical war game. War, war never changes. War games have long been a major genre in gaming. It’s fun, it’s competitive, it’s exciting - that's what gaming is all about! This game aims to educate its players that war itself is not a game — and that wars should only happen in games. A typical war game has the player in the role of a combatant or commander. They have the ability to inflict change upon the world, primarily through violence. This War of Mine differs from most other war games, yet remaining true to the definition – a game about war. Instead of bringing the players on the frontline as soldiers, they will be playing as the true victims of war: the civilians. For ideology, for revenge, for greed, for independence – it doesn’t matter for what reason shedding blood becomes the preferred option. In war the ones who suffer most are the civilians. They are the ones who die, are stolen from, are beaten, are raped, and ignored by the world. There’s no need to wait for a post-apocalypse setting to see hell on earth, and looting jury-rigged tools and machinery being the primary means of survival. It happens here, every day, in war zones. All of them blithely overlooked by the media. Players will be tasked to live as survivors in a war-torn country. Instead of looking for enemies to defeat, they will be looking for resources to keep them alive and protecting against bands of looters and criminal gangs. Also, instead of focusing on their health bars, they will be focusing on the characters’ tiredness, hunger, mental state, and guarding against debilitating sickness. Gameplay The game is set on a point and click 2.5D world, in a gaming market dominated by 3D FPS boasting high-resolution graphics. The style invoked is muted and foreboding, and as a bonus will run on almost any computer. Players need to survive by scavenging food and resources, trading, crafting, and in some cases, raiding other survivors’ shelters, which makes the game not all about strategizing and planning. It also involves some minor action and tactical stealth. Do you choose to steal or kill? What is acceptable in the name of survival? It is simultaneously a refreshing approach to the war genre, contrasting with the fast-paced action games that many players are addicted to, and a chilling reminder about how impersonal decisions shape lives. Gameplay is unforgiving for those who don’t take care of their people. Survival is difficult, and there’s a deep sense of achievement in pulling through until peace comes. In this way it’s appealing to both casual and hardcore gamers. Graphics, Sound, and Narrative As a small game with an installer less than 1GB, This War of Mine does not disappoint in the graphics department. Its beautifully pencil-sketched rendered backgrounds are lavish eye candy, making the player feel as if reading through a graphic novel. The characters in the game are based on real people with well-defined personalities, making it more urgent to balance risks and rewards when you send them out. They are all you have. Background music and effects are average at best, but it does not need more than that so properly set up the atmosphere. It doesn’t have voice-overs, which is something most players expect in modern games. Still, the audio fits the game and the world it is trying to portray, and it’s uncertain how much more it will help on the drama and emotions the game is trying to invoke. I was expecting the game to be packed more with character dialogue and narratives, but it’s rather sparse on that front. The game only offers brief snapshots of what’s going on in the outside their little slice of the war and the characters involved. It’s a very ‘sandbox’ type of game, which encourages you to build your own narrative from how you see your people through their harrowing ordeal. Conclusion The game is very transparent on its main goal: to let people know the visceral truth behind how bad wars can be, and that it is hardly a fun adventure. The developers have perhaps hit upon the perfect medium to deliver their message. It encourages players to think it over beyond the information presented by passive media such as films and documentaries. When pirates began to distribute their game illegally, 11-bit studios responded by giving copies of the game away for free on Steam. Revenues also go to the nonprofit foundation War Child to help children and young people in conflict areas. It took them 2 years to develop the game, and for a small studio it is quite a fresh and impressive success. However, its main goal remains education. It is a beautiful, extended exercise in empathy. It is a game that does not ask to be bought, but should be played. Find it at http://www.11bitstudios.com/games/16/this-war-of-mine and on Steam.

Topics: Games, War, Game Review, Indie
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Greg Gibson is online.
Thank you Carlo for a thorough review of what appears to be a very "revealing" game. I am intrigued by your review of the game and I will definitely look to investigate the game more.
Carlo Marco
Thank you. Please do. It's really worth playing!
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