Tuesday, November 27

Review: This War of Mine [Nintendo Switch eShop]

It’s been said many times and by many people that “War is Hell”. While most games that involve war concern themselves with the battlefields, either playing in first-person to shoot it out or strategically commanding troops, This War of Mine takes what ends up being a much tougher road in many regards. The people who are trying to survive in the rubble of a war-torn city aren’t out to advance a noble cause of battle for glory, their needs are much more simple and immediate. They’re focused on making it through the days and potentially dangerous nights while struggling for fundamentals like food, medicine, or simple safety.

Combine this somewhat bleak situation with survival game mechanics and you get a very interesting take on the genre, one that places far more emphasis on the real consequences of the course of action you choose to take. You’re not randomly in a wilderness collecting berries or leaves from bushes or crafting a simple weapon for hunting prey, you’re instead trying to scavenge through buildings, some of which are abandoned and others that very much aren’t. Rather than being afraid of random monsters or beasts at night the fear is of other desperate humans who are likely in just as dire a situation as you. This change in theme completely alters the feel of the genre and can be what makes This War of Mine either extremely compelling or cripplingly depressing depending on how you choose to see it.

Whether you play the main mode that’s more random and roguelike or the alternative modes like The Little Ones DLC or the story called The Father’s Promise the same essence of desperation and hard choices is present. What should you prioritize first, what are you willing to trade and what are you most desperate to get, and how much longer can you push your people without proper food, sleep, or medicine before you begin to pay a real price. There are no easy answers or guarantees of success and if you think that arming up and looking to take what you need from others is an answer you’ll find there are real world costs to going that path as well.

This War of Mine encompasses most of the difficulties you’d expect from the survival genre and throws on a pretty grim and depressing layer of reality to boot. The tests here aren’t just of your ability to figure out what the best crafting paths or things to prioritize in gathering may be but also of your ability to manage very human problems as well. There will be many ways the game can frustrate you as you try to figure out how to survive in this bleak situation but it’s the glimmers of hope, small successes, and human stories in this horrible situation that also make it memorable.

Score: 8.5

  • Challenging survival game play with multiple scenarios to choose from as well as more free DLC yet to come
  • Provides an often chilling perspective on the ordeal of those not directly involved in war but very much affected by it
  • Forces you to make decisions that can carry heavy consequences

  • The interface and interactions can feel a bit delayed and dodgy at times
  • This won’t be an experience for everyone as it can hit some pretty dark situations and choices