This War Of Mine Preview – MOUSE n JOYPAD

This War Of Mine Preview



Without trying to state the obvious, wars are terrible things. Fighting, killing, soldier against soldier. Sometimes entire nations are against each other, while civil wars make countries tear themselves apart. Many games refuse to acknowledge the grittier side of war, when it isn’t all about bursting into houses guns a blazing, shooting bad people for “democracy”. In the wake of modern war games such as the Call of Duty and Battlefield series, many gamers have simply become unaware of the horrors of war. There have been some games that aren’t afraid to gut punch the player and open their eyes to reality (Spec Ops: The Line is possibly the most prominent example, also being one of the most harrowing gaming experiences I’ve had). But a good ninety percent of war games always focus on the soldiers, on the fighting and so on. This War of Mine aims to fill the gap left in this genre, and focuses on a group of refugees trying to survive a civil war.

At its core, This War of Mine is a 2D survival game. Your team, consisting of a girl and two guys, need to be fed, rested, healthy and (to a lesser extent) happy during the course of the game. They each have their own stats and perks, which pretty much define their roles. The girl is good at negotiating with traders (who sometimes stop by to swap items of value. Sometimes you’ll be incredibly eager to swap your rare diamond for a few cans of food), one guy is a fast runner (which doesn’t actually help too much, since you’ll do your best to stealth most of the scavenge missions, more on that later) and a bearded fellow who can rustle up some good meals (he also starts the game slightly ill, so you need to find some meds quick). During the day, you sit at your base. You can explore the place, looting cupboards and picking locks on wardrobes and stuff, but your building will soon run out of resources to find. There are a lot of objects within the game, which are used to build items to help you survive. Beds can be made early on to ensure that whoever sleeps will be well-rested. These also allow you to sleep during the day (exactly why you can’t sleep on the floor during the day is a mystery to me). The work station can be upgraded to build more intricate items, such as weapons and a chemistry set, which in turn is used to craft bandages and herbal medicines, which may or may not actually help.

Once the clock hits 8PM (and the sun suddenly plummets below the horizon, I suppose) each team member is given three or four options. One option is to sleep through to the next day. If you have a bed, they can sleep on that. The amount of beds crafted affects the amount of people who can choose to sleep in a bed. Option two- Guard duty. They make sure no one tries to sneak in and raid the place. These people are usually more successful if there are weapons around. Option three- Scavenge. This is where This War of Mine keeps half its content. You are presented with a world map, and choose which building (in any) you want to go and raid. You’re given an estimate of what items there will be within the building, and how dangerous it is. Technically, you can all choose to stay in and not risk anyone. But those supplies will soon dry up if you do, and the trader doesn’t come often enough to justify staying indoors.

Now, some buildings are abandoned. Others are not. I met a friendly tramp one time. His “home” didn’t have much in the way of resources, but he didn’t try to kill me, which was nice. He asked for some food though, stating that he’d die in a few days if he didn’t. However I had no food on me at that time, so I left with every intention to return with a can of beans or something to tide him over. However, I fell ill (I’m talking about me, not anyone in the game) so I turned in for the night. I never went back. He’s probably fine.

It’s advised to be sneaky throughout, as while it’s a slower process, you cannot be heard while tip-toeing. Most of the doors you’ll encounter have key holes. This allows you to look before you leap, so to speak. The cone of vision will slowly widen as you look in longer. Everything outside the vision cone has a forever-moving sketchy feel, very similar to the music video for “Take on Me” by A-ha. Anything that moves within these sketchy areas are represented by red circles, which signify the sound their footsteps make. While frantically searching a cupboard, red circles become a terrifying sight, as the combat in this game should be avoided at all costs. To be fair, I never got as far as making a weapon for any of my characters. But when you need to fight, you “equip” (yes, equip) your fists, ready for battle. As you do this, all icons signalling a searchable area disappear, meaning you can’t look at any potential treasure areas. You then spam the opponent and pray that they fall before you do. If you fall, you die. Simple.

This War of Mine offers a different spin on the war genre. It has good ideas, aspects and mechanics, which all slot together nicely, like a puzzle. However, there is one issue. One big, horrifying issue that will forever be in the back of my mind. Three words. No. Save. Feature. After starting a new session, I almost fainted as the words “Day 1″ greeted me. I have seriously tried everything. I pressed Escape, nothing happened. There was a little door and arrow icon, indicating leaving the game. You’re then given two options, surrender or resume. I click surrender, it takes me to the starting screen. I start the game, and whatever progress I just made had been lost. Now, since the 1980’s save systems have been implemented in gaming. Even the likes of Metroid or the Legend of Zelda had a rudimentary password system. If it turns out that I had to do something obscure, like press an “F” button at the top of the keyboard or turn off the screen three times or sacrifice a goat, then it still isn’t my fault, since while games shouldn’t tutorial-ise everything (which is one thing this game doesn’t do, and I commend it for that) the save system should be obvious for everyone to see, so you can resume your game whenever you want. This game is in Early Access, so I can only hope that they manage to patch it in or make a great big red arrow to where it is for morons like myself. Apart from that, it’s worth a look.