When thinking about war, the first thing that comes times mind is the deaths caused by combat. But what about the chaos caused to the everyday lives of civilians? What about the hunger? The brutality? The depression? This War of Mine: Final Cut paints a vivid picture of what everyday life is like during wartimes. It is a game, and it is meant to be played. But it is not without meaning.
As you begin the game in the default ‘Survival’ mode, you’ll find yourself being familiarised with three characters. Two are old friends, and another they have met along the way. And that’s it. That’s all the introduction you’re given. There are no instructions on how the game plays, what your objectives are nor even how to move. This War of Mine is delivered in such a fashion as to simulate the real lives of those trapped in a warzone: you have to figure out what you’re doing as you’re doing it.
Simple needs such as food and beds are relatively easy to solve. Soon you’ll be well slept, well fed and off out scavenging. The game essentially plays out like this, in two disparate parts: day and night. During the day you’ll be crafting, curing, eating and attempting to create some semblance of normality. At night, you can go scavenging for supplies.
Scavenging involves you exploring new areas and filling your backpack with whatever you can find. As you explore new areas you may come across people. Some will be friendly, asking to trade. Some will tolerate you until they see something they don’t like. Others will be immediately hostile.
As you progress through the days, things will turn from bad to worse. You may well have made a few beds and stocked up on rations, but eventually trouble will come looking for you. You’ll be raided. In-fighting will break out. You’ll be wounded. You’ll get depressed, tired and hungry. People will leave you. Others will die. Your goal is to make it through the war with at least one of your characters alive. The odds are not in your favour.
In addition to the Survival mode is this ‘My Own Scenario’ mode. Here, you can tailor the difficulty to give you a greater chance of surviving. You can also choose which characters you start with (each with their own ability) and which locations are available on the map. It still remains a challenge, of course, as there are a lot of elements you don’t control. But it’s the random nature of This War of Mine as a whole that makes it stay with you long after you’ve finished playing.
This War of Mine: Final Cut adds a number of new features – upgraded visuals, remastered backgrounds, new missions – but in reality these are merely window dressing. The core experience is just as engaging as it’s always been. It’s a shame 11 bit studios didn’t go whole hog and include the DLC as part of this new release – for that you’ll need to buy the ‘Complete Edition’ or the add-on package – but in and of itself This War of Mine: Final Cut is still a hugely compelling experience.