This War of Mine Complete Edition Review
Reviewed on Nintendo SwitchAlso available on Android, Apple Mac, iPad, iPhone, Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One and Linux
War is hell and gamers usually experience it through the eyes of soldiers at the front lines, wielding weapons and abilities. This War of Mine changes all of that by putting the player into the shoes of war survivors struggling to stay alive through whatever means they can scavenge in an intensely atmospheric game where decisions are everything.
This War of Mine on the Nintendo Switch is the complete edition which contains two different game modes: Classic and Stories. Classic Mode places the player in a scenario with a random group of survivors, each with their own backstory and capabilities. Survivors typically have neither any military background or any experience with survival so it’s up to the player to make decisions to ensure that they survive until a ceasefire that can occur at any random point in the game’s timeline. Decisions involve the crafting of materials and resources as well as managing the survivors’ mood, hunger, and health.
Survivors cannot do anything during daytime but at night players may choose to take them out of the confines of their shelter to scavenge for resources. This complete edition of the game also contains the Little Ones expansion which introduces child survivors to the game. Children don’t have the scavaging and crafting capabilities of the adults but they can, over time, learn to do some minor chores. These children add another layer of difficulty to the game as players must often decide how they spend their time in order to maintain the children’s levels as well as their own. In some cases, children are paired with a parent which adds even more emotion to an already emotionally charged story. Classic mode also allows for players to set up their own custom scenario with a plethora of options ranging from the number of survivors to how many days until the ceasefire occurs. With all of these options in place, Classic is a great mode for survival game fans to sink their teeth into due to its near endless replayability.
Stories, on the other hand, introduces complete story campaigns to the game where survivors aren’t just looking to get by in a time of war but also deal with their own personal problems. The first story in the game tells the tale of Adam and his daughter Amelia who have recently lost and buried the mother of the family. After a series of shellings obliterate their home, Amelia falls severely ill so Adam is forced to seek out shelter for him and his daughter in an abandoned building. Several days later, Amelia is seemingly abducted by Adam’s brother who hopes to gain refuge by virtue of having an ill child with him. The player must guide Adam through different night phases in search of clues as to the whereabouts of his only daughter. As a mode, it provides a more guided experience for players who may feel overwhelmed by open survival experiences. The mechanics used, however, are the same as in Classic so those feeling ready to cut their teeth in a sandbox style survival game can transition seamlessly. At the moment, there’s only one story scenario in the game but more will be introduced as DLC in the future.
This War of Mine is not a happy game, a fact that is communicated to great effect by its grey tones and depressing score. Any colour brought into the mix indicates purpose or danger, the latter of which makes night scavenges a visceral experience. Characters move fluidly in the game’s 2D environments with distinct animations for different actions such as moving in stealth, digging out blockages, and crafting resources. The most powerful about the game’s gloomy presentation is that emphasizes a sense of urgency to the each of the choices the player must make. Who gets to eat the only cooked meal available? Scavenge or stay guard? Each action has its own consequence that is sure to thrill players regardless of how they choose to immerse themselves into this close to this near accurate representation of the realities of human war.
It’s not often that a survival game is able to invoke so much emotion out of a player and This War of Mine achieves that by not just presenting hard choices but also encapsulating them through situations that are inspired by real war. The title provides many different options for both players who are happy to play in a sandbox and those who need a bit more hand-holding. If you’re looking to play for a complete experience that will not only test your survival and decision-making skills but also your compassion and moral compass, look no further than This War of Mine on Nintendo Switch.