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    This War of Mine: Not many games can claim to be “edifying”.

    Pavle is going to use the wood Bruno brought back this morning to board up the windows. The house has been raided twice already this week. A third time would be disastrous. Bruno eats the single can of food he found last night his right as scavenger and heads downstairs to sleep off his injuries. Katia, the group’s negotiator and last night’s guard, is also entitled to rest; instead she smokes a cigarette and listens to the radio, waiting for the merchant’s distinctive knock. 

    She is starving. They all are. If the merchant doesn’t bring food or doesn’t come at all… will she last another night? Would she even want to?

    So that’s a slice-of-life from This War of Mine, a 2D life/survival simulator set in a fictional (but all-too-real) Eastern European city-under-siege. Your job is to manage the lives of up to ten housemates as they struggle to survive in a profoundly hostile environment, seeing to their needs and wants in much the same way you would a Sim. During the day this takes the form of activities like the ones described above: eating, sleeping, crafting, waiting, and trading for supplies, Supplies can also be obtained on scavenging runs, which take place at night and involve sneaking around some shelled-out shithole in search of anything that can be eaten, crafted, or sold. Most runs end without encountering another living soul, but as all the “safe” options are exhausted you find yourself compelled to take greater and greater risks. Eventually you’re going to run into somebody, and honestly? They probably won’t be friendly.
    Spend enough time playing thiS War of mine and you’ll end up doing Something terrible
    Desperate times make for desperate people. Spend enough time playing This War of Mine and I guarantee you’ll end up doing something terrible that you regret. Maybe you’ll hit an old man with a shovel. Steal his food. Stab his wife in the neck. Maybe you’ll tell two little kids that, no actually, you can’t spare any medicine for their dying mother. The genius of This War of Mine is that its morality is rooted in its systems: the brutal mechanics enforce a consistent identity “survivor” which frames the player’s moral choices throughout. It’s elegant stuff.

    This War of Mine is a beautiful, harrowing game, and also a fairly limited one. It’s not the kind of game you’ll keep coming back to, partly because there’s not a huge amount of content and partly because it’s so terribly bleak. It’s a shame, too, that there’s not a lot of scope for social interaction between housemates.

    But I’m nitpicking. The take-home is that this is an important game and an experience worth having.

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