This War Of Mine

Recently, a friend pointed me toward this game so I thought I would talk a little about it. Currently, I have logged in 29 in-game days of survival in this war game where you don’t get to be the military officer. No, you are the survivors, hunkering down in your shelter and trying to make it to the end of the war (which I’ve been informed lasts 45 days). Hey, I’m about halfway there! (I don’t think I’m lasting much longer, though, more on that in a moment.)

So This War Of Mine is available on Steam and it’s a point and click game in which you play as a group of survivors in a war. You start the game with three survivors with skills that may help you down the line. For example, there is Bruno who has the skill Good Cook and when he cooks, he takes up less resources. In fact, I didn’t even know anybody else could cook for the first couple of in-game weeks because I never had enough to make more than one Bruno bowl of meat soup.

Each day is split into a night and day cycle. During the day, you can explore your shelter and forage for goods that may be hidden behind rubble. You can also craft items, cook, and have your guys rest, eat, medicate themselves, etc. If you have characters who are addicted to cigarettes and you happen to have cigarettes in your inventory, they will even have a seat and smoke. The same goes for books. If you find books in the shelter, they may lie down in bed with a book.

When night falls, you have a few options. You can set your guys to sleep, sleep in a bed (if you have them–enough beds for all was my first move), guard the shelter, or scavenge. You can only choose one person to scavenge a night and you only get to scavenge one area a night, so if you run into trouble and you have to literally run out of the building, you pretty much forfeit the night and come home empty-handed. Or you die, if your character doesn’t escape on time.

In my playthrough, I started with Marko, a good scavenger, Pavle, a fast runner, and Bruno, a good cook. Sometime in my first week, Marko was murdered while out scavenging. Bruno took it pretty hard, since they were pals. Shortly afterward, an old man named Anton knocked on the door and took him in. His skill is Good Mathematician, which I thought would come in handy but still hasn’t at the time of this writing.

For me, it was just Pavle, Bruno, and Anton for a good long while. I set up a rhythm. Pavle would scavenge during the night while Bruno would guard the shelter. Anton would sleep if he was sick, otherwise he would help guard and then during the day, we would all sleep in shifts while the waking guys would craft items, cook, and eat. Then we met Roman, who defected from the military. I let him join the group and things became pretty good for us. Roman’s skill at combat made him indispensable, so he guarded the shelter each night and every time we were raided, he fended them off successfully. In most cases, nobody on our side even got hurt!

Meanwhile, Pavle continued to scavenge because of his 12 slot holding capacity and fast runner skill. Things were good. Then everything got screwed up when winter hit. Since I had scavenged all the safe places, we were bringing in less supplies and that meant less wood. Despite having built a heater for the shelter, we rarely had enough wood to cook and warm the shelter each night. So one night, Pavle went out scavenging and came back to Roman having frozen to death. Pavle was killed while scavenging only a few days later.

Bruno took all this very hard. He went from sad to depressed and several times, he had to be talked to because he was on the verge of suicide. The other members of the group all tried to calm him down but he wasn’t looking good. Then a woman showed up on the doorstep. She came to us wounded but she had the sneak quietly skill. However, she came at a bad time. With the cold pressing in and no food, Anton became terminally ill. Bruno had to pay the hospital several visits to search for medication and bandages. During one night, the shelter was raided while completely defenseless. All our supplies were stolen.

The characters’ moods are delicate and when things get bad, they really fall apart. At one point, while I still had Pavle, he witnessed a woman being raped and when he came back home, he shut off completely for days. I couldn’t even get him to sleep or eat. He just kept talking about her and how he wished he could have done something. The other members of the group knew he couldn’t have taken the man who did it but he was never the same afterward. He was constantly sad.

Now that I’m on day 29, my characters aren’t looking good. They’re all sick, hungry, sad, and tired. The cold is settling in and it’s difficult to scavenge with the current members of the group. Food is scarce, medication is hard to get a hold of. I now regret using meds as a barter for food at the beginning, when I didn’t need meds but desperately needed food.

This game is definitely depressing but it’s also interesting. I recommend at least giving it a try if you can, or watch a playthrough. But it won’t be the same until you’re the one driving all the decisions.

Rachel Aseltine

R.A. Aseltine is an author and roleplayer living in California with her husband, guinea pig, and five cats.

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