This War of Mine Impressions
I'm a good person, or so I like to tell myself. When gaming I play as an altruist, sacrificing for myself to benefit others. I'll sacrifice a medical kit if a civilian needs it, I'll spare my enemy if they plead in the right manner, I'll go out of my way to help my people who I don't even know, who I will never see again. Till now I believed I was a good person, but my time with This War of Mine has shown me a darker side of myself.
For those that don't know what This War of Mine is, it's a game centered around civilians as they try to survive during a siege on the city that has lasted over a year. You have to build up your shelter, protect it from looters, and scavenge for resources to keep your people alive against the odds. There is no difficulty setting, there aren't NPCs rushing to replace your band of survivors. Who you have is who you are stuck with.
Your days are spent at your shelter, a broken, but still standing building offering the comforts of not being outside. It's not much, but it is home for your three refugees. From the start one of mine was sick, but a good barterer. As she slowly regains her health, her tasks are minimum. She handles bartering with those looking to trade and contact with our neighbors when they pop around. When the other two aren't resting, as one has to scavenge at night while the other stands guard after a raid on my shelter, they are building or crafting various items to trade or for our survival.
This is how we pass our days, surrounding us a few other communities have managed to grasp the sliver of normalcy. Here people attempt to live peacefully, yet these are places that have food. I said to myself, I won't raid these people. A noble sentiment, but after we get raided and the little food reserves we had end up taken. Desperation, a palpable desperation sets it. We need food, badly! Through trading for 3 cans of food, we bring our hunger down to being just tolerable. This is not something we can rely on going forward. Those cans of food cost our group our only weapon, I'm hoping to have another one shortly, but to give up a tool that would be needed shows how serious our situation had become.
Now I'm looking at our neighbors, with their food, their security and I'm thinking to myself: maybe we should hit them. We need to survive darn it! We need food. Before sacrificing my morals for survival I chose the risky path. A supermarket lay in the northern part of the city, it had food stockpiles, we needed food stockpiles, but other looters would be there, other looters who could kill whomever I sent to retrieve the food.
There was no choice, if we didn't get some food we would have to steal from our neighbors or straight up raid them. Once I get there to my horror there are three people already there. All of them armed to the teeth with a pistol and what looked like two assault rifles. My heart plummets, am I going to have to abort the mission? Leaving valuable food behind . Or dare I attempt to take on these people, or perhaps attempt to sneak past them.
The decision was made for me, after issuing orders to the other two the third man walked outside and tells me that there should be enough for all of us. Relief! Yet, I have to wonder, how long can we maintain this kind of relationship. Today, there was enough for them, but winter will come, supplies exhaust. When this time comes can we remain civil toward each other or will there come a time when we'll meet again with only one of our groups leaving alive. Perhaps that day will come with them on my door step. Coming for whatever morsels of food we've managed to accumulate so that they can survive.
Even in that moment of civility all I can think of is my own survival. Of course I couldn't manage to fight then. No matter how tempting it was to attack one of them from behind for their weapon. In the end
most of the food ended up in their hands, but I managed a couple bits they missed or left. It'll help me get rats for their meat or ward of starvation when it encroaches again until I can find another source of food. Again my neighbors have food, and as our desperation grows so does the temptation to abandon my scruples. I didn't create this situation, but I sure as hell want to walk out of it with my friends alive, and that is an experience worth having.