ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

This War of Mine - Review

Updated on January 7, 2015

Many games have us kill virtual people. And, especially in more recent years, many games have had us question our ease at killing virtual people. Yet, despite the good intentions, it's often been difficult to marry an anti-violence/anti-war sentiment to actual gameplay. This War Of Mine, if nothing else, does manage to give this a try, all while remaining an engaging game to play.

The setting of This War Of Mine is never fully explained. Inspired by the Siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian war, it's morose, almost monochrome art style, immediately tell you what kind of game this is. After being unceremoniously handed your collection of survivors, you're likely to spend the first half hour or so doing nothing more than shuffling away rubble.

Mechanically speaking, This War Of Mine plays out like a mix or The Sims, along with some rudimentary base building/tactical elements thrown in. At its core however, it's simply a game about choices. Do you raid the local supermarket tonight, or head to the abandoned apartment block? Do you send the elderly man with no discernible skills into harms way, or the much more valuable handyman who's capable of fixing up your house?

Different areas become accessible and inaccessible as the game progresses. Given your only able to scavenge once per night, there's a huge emphasis on ensuring you gather up as many scraps as you can. Here again, there's decisions to be made. Food will keep you alive and stave off hunger, but it's wood and spare parts that'll enable you to craft new resources back at base.

Whilst away scavenging, your house is at risk of being raided.
Whilst away scavenging, your house is at risk of being raided.

Likewise, your characters' have their own wants and needs. Some will crave cigarettes and coffee, which are otherwise useful bartering items. Trading plays an important role in the game, with many of the available locations having at least one character who's willing to swap items with you. All in all, it makes for an interesting tweak to the general scavenge-survive style of game we've seen in recent years. It's a zombie apocalypse game, but one without the zombies.

The fact that you make all the decisions means that you'll be the one to feel like a heartless monster should you choose to steal or kill for supplies. It's possible to make it through the entire game without harming a soul, which makes those kinds of horrible decisions even more painful. Raid an old couple's home and they'll be powerless to stop you; their fridge crammed full with food, and their cabinets full of medicine. Their only response will be to beg you to stop and leave which, provided you're not completely devoid of empathy, will hit you.

What's most impressive is that 11 bit studios achieves all of this without ever resorting to tired old morality meters and good/evil points. Your behaviour is never charted by some abstract moral calculator within the game, it's instead reflected straight back within the gameplay. Characters that are forced to kill are likely to break down upon returning home, ignoring your instructions and simply collapsing in the corner of a room, in some cases for several days.

Different areas offer various supplies. Some are more dangerous than others and the threat level can vary over time.
Different areas offer various supplies. Some are more dangerous than others and the threat level can vary over time.
Characters reveal things about themselves as the game progresses. They also note down what's happened to them and their fellow survivors whilst you've been playing.
Characters reveal things about themselves as the game progresses. They also note down what's happened to them and their fellow survivors whilst you've been playing.

Likewise, your characters are physically fragile. Enter a more dangerous area and it'll only take two, maybe three, gun shots to down a member of your group. This War of Mine doesn't necessarily do this in order to make itself difficult, again, it's possible to avoid almost all direct confrontations with some savvy planning. Instead it reemphasizes the game's core themes; that life is indeed, incredibly fragile.

Whilst overall the game is a solid achievement, it's not completely without its flaws. Much like the games it lightly draws upon, such as X-Com, there's sometimes the case that you'll simply suffer from some bad dice rolls as it were. Given the random nature of some of the game's events, it's sometimes the case that you'll never get the chance to build up any positive momentum, and simply shuffle from one bad scenario to another until you end up dead. It's possible to start the game in the middle of winter, adding another challenge to your survival, by ensuring you have to constantly heat the home with limited fuel in order to keep warm. It's likely that a quick restart will be in order as bad luck (and bad choices), quickly begin to compound on one another.

Similarly, whilst the game's theme and style are arguably some of its strongest aspects, it's sometimes so relentlessly bleak that it risks descending into a quasi-parody. Its atmosphere is so thick and heavy that it can get somewhat repetitive, tonally speaking. It does make those moments you find some much needed food that more rewarding, yet sometimes, light touches of happiness could have made the game's depressing moments that much more unsettling.

Still, these complaints are minor in a game that, on the whole, does what very few have managed to do. It explores the issue of killing in games, without resorting to cutscenes. Moreover, its morality is one that's linked directly to its gameplay rather than being some abstract experience system. As a scavenge-survive breed of game, it still remains incredibly addictive in its own right, but the story and themes make it that much more rewarding.

This War of Mine was released on November 14th for PC, Mac and Linux.

This review is based on the PC version.

© 2015 LudoLogic


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)