This War of Mine: The Little Ones is a 2D platforming survival adventure developed by 11 Bit Studios and published by Deep Silver. The game released on Xbox One on January 29th 2016 at a cost of £23.99/$29.99. The reviewer purchased his own copy for this review.
War. What is it good for?
Whilst the majority of us have never experienced war firsthand, through the mediums of films and games we have come to develop an understanding of what it could be like. This War of Mine pointed something out to me that I never actually considered before. All these other films and games are usually from the perspective of a soldier, a platoon, a general. Someone important. Someone who can make a difference. Someone who charges into a room of three hundred bad guys guns blazing and makes it out alive. Do we ever get to experience it from the eyes of a nobody? From the eyes of a chef? From the eyes of a retired football player? From the eyes of a child?
We do now. This War of Mine changes that. The game is set during a civil war in the fictional land of Pogoren and Graznavia and is set from the perspective of a group of nobodies. There are no soldiers or super heroes here just ordinary people. Children and adults alike you must survive. But do you have the conviction to survive? Can you make the hard choice?
The game is all about choices. From resource management to guard duties, to even risking to sleep. Little everyday things become important choices here and ultimately game changers. When letting one person eat could mean the starvation of another or sending someone to the hospital to get medicine for an injured member could lead to him being attacked by bandits. Consequences are often dire, but this is war.
What I enjoyed:
Everything – I’m gonna start this off in a strange place for a review. But for the TLDR fans among you, I enjoyed everything. This game is brilliant, and in my most humble opinion, near perfect. It makes a great change of pace from what we usually see and for once it is a survival game that is really about survival.
Random is random – I loved the fact that every playthrough is randomized. From the characters you start with and their skill set to the locations that are available to you. The war ends on random days, winter will start at a random time and you never know when a crime wave will start. Unpredictable outcomes and events mean this has replayability and doesn’t get boring.
Life could mean death – Every action has an equal and opposite reaction and nothing holds as true as in this game. Feeding someone could take food from someone else. Building a bed could use valuable wood needed to barricade a door. Just picking a bad location to scavenge could lead to death. This game really deals with choices and if deals with them well. No answer is right or wrong, it just is what it is. Painstakingly brilliant.
It’s rather depressing, isn’t it? – Yes it is. All the games graphics are dark and shady. Characters are rarely happy. They moan, they get depressed, they can mentally break. All real emotions in a destitute war zone life. Absolutely brilliant.
Morality is so tough – We go through life aiming to be good and to do well. Treat others as you would want to be treated. Does this apply in war? You tell me. Do you rob a vicar to steal food for your group? Do you kill an old lady for bandages as someone in your pack will die without them? Or do you donate some antibiotics to the local hospital as they need them now even if you might later? Another example of there is no right answer. It’s all down to the player again and there are consequences either way. Kill that old lady and the murderer may become depressed or even a shell of his former self, sitting in the corner crying, leaving you a man short until you can bring him back from the brink. But at least Johhny didn’t bleed to death right? Emotionally brilliant.
It’s all about the kids – Children also play a part here. Young and innocent but useless. A drain On your groups resources, unable to guard or fight, just eat and sleep. You can teach children to learn new things but ultimately they are a hindrance to the group. Back to the choices, and as depressing as it is to think about, only you can decide how to deal with it. Horrifically brilliant.
It’s night time – To stop boredom setting in you can auto end days. This is helpful when you feel you have accomplished all you can in the day time and you don’t want to idle the rest of the day out. Instant skip to night time is a nice touch and let’s you progress when you want too. Night is where we guard, scavenge and sleep. You have to choose who sleeps at night (on beds if you’ve made them), who guards the house (with guns if you have them) and who goes out to scavenge food and materials from other places in the neighborhood. Scavenging is the action part of the game where you travel to new locations ; houses, hospitals, schools. Your scavenger must creep around and take what they can with their limited storage space backpack, avoid or engage bandits and meet other survivors. While he is gone though your house may get raided…maybe he should have stayed at home. Managerially brilliant.
I can’t decide what I want – Whilst out scavenging for items you can only carry a certain amount of stuff. The key part is what do you bring back? Food. Medicine. Materials. Weapons. One man can only do so much and taking one thing leaves something else valuable behind. The player must prioritize and manage and probably regret leaving that tobacco behind….Consequently brilliant.
What I disliked:
Nothing – Serious. Deadly serious. I can’t find any real flaws in this game. Some may say it’s slow paced. It should be. Some may say it’s depressing. It should be. Some may say there isn’t enough resources to last, or their guys are getting sick too often, they are too cold. The list could go on. All the way it should be.
I can’t remember a time where I’ve been unable to find so little faults and the faults I did find are hampered by the console not the developer and are rectified with the PC version. For instance, on the Xbox if you want someone to sleep you manually control your character to move to the bed then sleep. On the PC I believe you can click the character then the bed for an auto walk and interaction of have characters auto complete pre started tasks. That’s it. The one fault I can find is purely because the Xbox version doesn’t use a cursor like the PC version. And I’m done.
Score: Buy it now
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