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Finished This War of Mine (short review)[message #338475] Sat, 20 December 2014 16:26 Go to next message
Shanga is currently offline Shanga

Registered:January 2000
Location: Danubia

GOG: http://www.gog.com/game/this_war_of_mine
STEAM: http://store.steampowered.com/app/282070/

After a few failures I've managed to finish this years indie hit and best-seller, "This War of Mine". As one who lived through the days of the Yugo war and covered it as a journalist (from a distance, but not so far as not to care), it had a particular impact on me. As survival games go, it's second maybe to "Don't Starve". As a war story, it's one of the best ever written.

It is first and foremost a game that doesn't leave you untouched, unless you're a special and extreme example of an a*hole when it comes to humankind. It kinda shows you, within the limits of a computer game, your true colors, more than any other game. And it takes the choices you make and shoves them right back in your face. That makes it a very difficult game to play, because it's a cruel wake-up call about the state we humans get when we're forced to survival level.

It does use some pretty obvious shortcuts to force you into this state, though. It doesn't allow any save or custom start options (of course, people have found way to cheat back on this). It hits you with generated events exactly when you think you got everything settled. For example, I had my shelter all fixed, I had water, food, tools, animal traps, weapons, heat, I was growing food and producing alchool for trade. And one day the game decided that my people are sick with a contagious disease. And no matter how many meds I threw at them, 1 died, 1 left the shelter. After I got back on my feet again and was running ok, the game decided one of my survivors needs to fight and basically every night he fought another NPC and both got wounded. Basically the game pounds you into submission when it comes to making it clear war is tough. You must feel like victim, no matter how good you play.

That part, gamewise, I did not like much. I do appreciate it as a story element and for the morale behind the title. But if this wasn't about the Yugo war and the plight of those people I would've called it on what it is: obvious computer cheating.

Other than that, the game is admirably simply built and extremely efficient in delivering everything it needs to deliver. Both shelter interface and the exploring part are quite nice. Your characters do show when they are sick or wounded. And even drunk. I though giving one character a drink while depressed was smart. And instead he went into a full drunk rampage, about the most realistic drinking binge I ever saw in a game. Morale, sadness and depression are very nicely done and tied into the game. Just do not expect the opposite. Your RPCs will be ok, but never happy. More important, morale it's not just a number in the corner of the screen. You feel it and you see it when things go wrong. In some aspects, the game is a masterpiece. A work of art.

The gloomy graphic style fits it perfectly, yet somehow makes everything every clear and visible. You have line of sight and places to hide, you have ranged and close combat. And close combat is pretty powerful if you don't care about consequences much. A crowbar will win against a machine gun (maybe a bit far fetched) if your attack is sudden and violent enough.

All the pros and cons aside, this is one of the games that if you haven't played, you missed a checkpoint in your life as a gamer.

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[Updated on: Sat, 20 December 2014 22:10] by Moderator

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Re: Finished This War of Mine (short review)[message #338501] Mon, 22 December 2014 02:07 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Mauser is currently offline Mauser

Registered:August 2006
Location: Bavaria - Germany
Yeah, i played it too and like it quite a lot.

It is a fresh concept, well executed and rather engaging.

Though its difficulty depends rather greatly on which survivors you start with, which areas are available to you from the start and how well you know the mechanics and scavenge areas.

Successful survival is mostly dependant on how much resources you can gether how quickly to fully upgrade your hideout and generate foods and trade goods.

Still a very unique and engaging little game which i highly recommend to at least try.

It doesn't allow any save or custom start options

Not entirely true as of latest patch 1.2 Shanga. With 1.2 patch, you get to choose your set of surivors to start with (after the first regular playthrough) and also an alternative hideout. Saving is still not possible, but game autosaves at the start of every day, with random events getting mixed up anew everytime you quit and continue. So if you get robbed and your guys wounded or sick, you can use this game mechanic to avoid these problems to a certain degree, should you feel unable to deal with them.

With the whole depression mechanic, the key to success is, to keep your guys well fed, warm, healthy, able to defend themselves and feed their addictions from time to time. Distractions and entertainment in form of books are very important too, so never trade or burn them, just collect them.
Also you have to know when you can be ruthless and when it is ok to help people. If you can manage to balance that out nicely, you won't have that much problems with bad moods often. The key is, to upgrade and secure your hideout as quickly as possible and you can avoid most problems.

Anyways, the game gets expanded and upgraded contentwise and featurewise constantly by the devs, so it still has a lot more potential.

Still one of my personal best games of the year and an important lesson in survival in times of crisis, upheaval and war, which we all increasingly face here in Europe and worldwide. And one of the most central lessons to be learned from it is: your survival depends mostly on how many resources you can gather, what you can make out of them and to have accordingly talented people with you which provide the necessary special skills.
Also, know when you can afford to take a risk and avoid confrontation and combat whenever possible, unless you are perfectly trained and capable to use deadly force effectively.

And last but not least: in chaotic times, you never know what challenges and chances life throws at you. But you can rarely afford to avoid or cheat on the first or let the second go unused.

And the most important lesson is: the better you are prepared for the worst, the more comfortable you will generally be able to live through times of crisis. But no matter how much stuff you accumulate through prepping, if you cannot defend it and yourself with force when tshtf, all your hoarded stuff will help those to survive that are able to take it. But with enough weapons and potential to use violence, you will always able to get whatever you need to survive from those who are weaker than yourself. And stealth still is able to beat numerical and firepower superiority in most cases.

Indeed, there is a lot valuable lessons to be learned from this game!

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First Sergeant
Re: Finished This War of Mine (short review)[message #340768 is a reply to message #338501] Tue, 28 April 2015 00:22 Go to previous message
Outland 17 is currently offline Outland 17

Registered:April 2015

I've been meaning to play this game after i saw it on HAWP, But wasn't really sure. Thanks for the reviews. I'll check it out.

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