This War of Mine: The little ones is a war survival video game with a difference. This War of Mine was first developed by 11 bit studios and released in 2014. The game was released for Microsoft Windows, OS X and Linux operating systems, with Android and iOS versions released in 2015. This War of Mine: The little ones came to PS4 and Xbox One in 2016.
No one has done this before…so …no one knew how people would react to it…
This War of Mine was an experience of War seen from a very different angle. The game developers were inspired by the 1992–96 Siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. Instead of playing the role of a seemingly immortal super solider, This War of Mine features a group of civilians trying to survive in a besieged city. This War of Mine: The Little Ones added in children to the scenario.
The game is essentially a 2D platform strategy game. The player controls a group of civilian survivors in a makeshift shelter in a war torn city. Most of the civilian survivors are ordinary people with no military experience and a certain survival skill or benefit that they can bring to the household. As the player you must maintain the characters’ health, hunger and mood levels until a ceasefire has been declared.
During the day you focus on maintaining your hideout as snipers patrol outside, making it impossible to move around during the day.
Night is your window to get out and scavenge for items to help you to survive. However when you leave your hideout, it becomes vulnerable. Your hideout is susceptible to raids and desperate outsiders will force their way into your shelter, taking what they want and assaulting and wounding your survivors. You can leave household members on guard duty however this will effect their tiredness level and they are susceptible to injury from defending the household against raiders. You will have to balance your household to ensure everyone gets enough rest. You can create weapons or find weapons via scavenging to help defend your household however it takes time to get to this level. You can also board up windows to assist in defense.
When a character goes outs to scavenge for items, they will encounter NPC’s that will choose to help with medicine or food, or to steal from you or to try and kill you and death comes quickly in the game. It only takes a couple of shots and your character is out of the game for good.
You can also make a choice to steal from others or to barter. Stealing will effect a characters emotional state. If your character falls to the “broken” stage, they will become dysfunctional and unable to do anything but sleep. It will then be up to the other characters to provide support and lift their mood. If you don’t lift a characters mood they may resort to taking their own life or leaving the shelter in search of a better option.
When scavenging you can also take items with you such as a shovel to help dig through rubble or a crow bar to break through locked doors or for defense.
Winter time is particularly brutal in the game. A great deal of what you scavenge may be diverted into keeping your household from freezing to death. Its possible to make or barter for an ax that will allow you to chop up old furniture for the fire and keep everyone warm. Your water purifier will stop working during winter due to the cold and you will need to shovel snow for water to melt on your stove.
Children in the game require extra care. An adult is assigned to protect and care for a child. Children are dependent on adults for food and emotional support however they can be taught to perform some household duties. Overall however they add a sense of bringing more demands on the household.
To “win” the game you must survive until a ceasefire is called. This is over 30 days. Its unlikely that your household will be the same as when you start. Some characters may not survive. Often in the rationing of food and medicine you will need to make a choice of who to keep alive while who to leave to die from sickness or hunger. Some characters may run out on you when times get too tough. They will rob important items and leave in the middle of the night never to return.
This War of Mine: The Little Ones is a game of difficult choices, sacrifices and hardship. And throughout the game-play, it has an unrelenting sense of hopelessness. A constant state of hunger, tiredness and injury undermines your civilians resolve, regardless of how hard you work to survive. An affinity develops for the characters hooking you into the game in the struggle to keep everyone alive.
Adapted from PC to console the core game play has essentially remained the same and it has been ported across without glitches. From a visual and control perspective, it probably is better suited to PC. There’s not much in the way of tutorials but its straightforward to work out. Mastery of the game can take many attempts and over time an element of repetitiveness does creep into the game. Map choices are limited, locations for goods and NPC’s stay pretty much the same.
This War of Mine was likened to a “grim Sims” game. This War of Mine: The Little Ones follows as a sobering and enlightening experience.There are moments in the game that are difficult to play through as empathy erodes through the quest for survival.