This War of Mine

This war is not about win­ning, it’s merely about sur­viv­ing

Mac Format - - RATED - De­vel­oper 11 bit stu­dios, 11bit­stu­ OS OS X 10.6 or later 512MB graph­ics card 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM, Play feels fresh Writ­ing and mu­sic build ten­sion

This War of Mine is a sur­vival sim­u­la­tor about guiding weary cit­i­zens through the rub­ble of their city. A few times per week, Franko comes to your camp to trade: five cig­a­rettes is the go­ing rate for a can of food in oc­cu­pied Poro­gen. Veg­eta­bles are pricey – moon­shine or jew­ellery – but they’re also more nu­tri­tious of course.

Dur­ing the day, sur­vivors pu­rify wa­ter, pack home­made bul­lets and tend paltry gar­dens. At night, one per­son goes ‘scav­eng­ing’, gath­er­ing sup­plies from ru­ined hos­pi­tals and su­per­mar­kets, us­ing ba­sic stealth and com­bat to avoid or fend off other des­per­ate refugees.

What you find at night af­fects how much you ac­com­plish each day, keep­ing ten­sion high. Ran­domised vari­ables can dic­tate play: it’s eas­ier to live through spring than win­ter, the value of tobacco sky­rock­ets, a neigh­bour asks for help.

Re­sources are scarce and the game’s me­chan­ics are sti­fling. You’re only al­lowed to search one lo­ca­tion per night, even with sev­eral hours left be­fore the cur­few. This rigid­ity el­e­vates the mun­dane – find­ing meat is a high point – but blunts the moral drama: steal­ing to sur­vive isn’t a dilemma if it’s the only op­tion.

Still, even when tac­ti­cal play seems im­pos­si­ble, it evinces des­per­a­tion and fu­til­ity. You never ex­pe­ri­ence war di­rectly, but you learn Bruno, Franko, Ka­tia and Pavle are col­lat­eral dam­age. Joseph Leray

A game that en­gen­ders em­pa­thy through the con­stancy, im­me­di­acy, and vol­ume of its choices.

The red cir­cles could be iden­ti­fy­ing rats, traders, or hos­tile guards. So go care­fully on your night-time scav­eng­ing.

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