When most folks think of Polish game development, they think of The Witcher and CD Projekt Red. But there’s another prolific company by the name of 11 Bit Studios that has been rocking my gaming world since the launch of Anomaly Warzone Earth years ago when we ran RTSGuru.com. Earlier this year they put out the excellent survival sim Frostpunk which has drawn critical and commercial acclaim. In 2014, they launched This War of Mine, a serious and dour look at the life of people stuck in the middle of war-ravaged nations. It’s a depressing, but engaging side-scrolling survival game where you manage people’s mental states as well as their physical ones. This is our review of the Nintendo Switch version – This War of Mine: Complete Edition.
In the years since its original launch, This War of Mine has gained a bunch of DLC and “War Stories” scenario modes that tell different narrative tales of different people and their families. It’s all quality content, even if the dialog is somewhat stiff and poorly localized. That’s the biggest draw – at $35, there’s a butt-ton of content to play here, if the game itself is your style.
Do you like games where you manage hunger, thirst, and loads of inventory? What about sleep, depression, fear, and more? This War of Mine is all about that, but with the War Stories scenarios, it’s also about completing specific objectives like a missing daughter and so forth. Just know that between all the narrative beats, you’ll also be managing your base, crafting gear, and making sure you don’t starve or die from disease and wounds.
The problems I have with This War of Mine are purely from a controls and pacing standpoint. On PC, it works because you can easily click icons on the screen to tell your characters what you want them to do. On console, you move your character with the left stick, and you have to have them exactly over or next to the icon for what you want them to interact with. Plus moving up or down stairs in a building can often be a hassle, leaving you doing exactly what you didn’t want to do.
And in general, This War of Mine is a slow game. It takes patience, and that’s not a bad thing, but there are stretches of the main game that feel like you’re just going through the motions. Maybe that’s the point, because it’s not glitz and glory and explosions and being the hero… it’s survival.