The sound in This War of Mine reflects the point of the game. It is gloomy, slow and reflects the ominous atmosphere. It doesn’t have cheery, upbeat music that people associate games with because the game is not cheery at all. This War of Mine is a game that resembles war in the way that war should be mirrored (accurately) and the sound in this game reflects that.
In terms of action sound effects, this game does a great job. When the character speeds up, the sound effects adjust accordingly in terms of both speed and volume. Attention is drawn to this as there is no voice acting, and the music is repetitive, so any changes to the sound are noticeable.
There are some points in this game where sound effects would be beneficial; something that was profoundly missed, however, was voice over. There was an issue with graphics that will be discussed later, but voice-over could have very easily made this problem not an issue.
This game resembles the mobile game Fallout Shelter in the way that it looks. It has a side view of houses, similar to the side view of the Fallout Shelter vaults. There was plenty on the screen, and due to the side view, most of the time, you knew where you were going and what needed to be done.
As for the characters themselves, they looked good. Their movements were smooth, and you could sometimes tell when they were tired because they would slouch and move slower. The characters all look distinct enough so that you could easily tell them apart during a first playthrough. The characters glitch a little bit when they interact with each other; this is not often, so it is not something that happens all the time, and even then, it is optional.
The biggest issue I had with the graphics in This War of Mine was the writing on the character profiles. Regardless of how big the screen you play on, the writing is too small to be legible. This makes the game itself more challenging to play, and this issue – as previously mentioned – could have very easily been solved with voice over. This is not an issue if you sit very close to the screen, but it is still a difficulty that could have been easily solved, even with just changing the font.
This game is set to take part in the middle of a war, so the main point of the entire game is survival. This game does not make that easy at all.
The game isn’t challenging in terms of surviving. It is more frustrating that you are unable to get the items to protect yourself by scavenging in the safer places, in order to build weapons to go to the more dangerous areas. Things such as food and bandages are tough to come across in safe places, and you are fortunate to get enough items to make something as necessary as a lockpick to look around the house you are staying in, never mind somewhere that you need to go scavenging through.
This game is hard. You have to make difficult choices, sometimes that leave people dead. But overall, especially in the day, there is not a lot to do gameplay-wise. Sometimes you get to make something (that doesn’t take up a lot of the day, and with three characters, there’s always something else you could be doing), sometimes you can cook something. The daytime is the part of the game that drags, which is disappointing because the risks taken during the night-time are to make the daytime better.
This War Of Mine feels like it had the chance to do something amazing, to teach people a lot about war beyond the military stance that shooters tend to take, and it just missed the mark in terms of gameplay. There feels like something is missing, like you should be able to do more. Perhaps when attempting to recreate the dreariness of wartime, 11 bit studios forgot that this is also a game.
As for the controls, they are sometimes a bit temperamental. For PlayStation 4, you have to use the right stick to move, just like usual. However, this game would have benefitted more by perhaps using the D-Pad to move due to the layout of the game.
This game is one of the games, similar to Until Dawn and Life Is Strange 2, that replaying the game would give you a different result each time that you play. Therefore, it does have replay value. However, this game starts off slow and therefore, may be frustrating to play more than once.
Slight spoilers, but every story is different.
This War of Mine is set during some kind of war. The characters you start with have journals that you can read (again, please remember the issue with the writing mentioned in the graphics session). Each day, you do things as the characters; each night, you go scavenging, or sleep, or guard the house.
The best part of this game is when the character is sent to go scavenging. You can meet vulnerable people, such as hungry, homeless people or elderly sick people, or dangerous people who will try to kill you. When the night is over, the characters sometimes update their journals so that the player has some kind of insight into the character’s thoughts and emotions.
The characters are vital to this story. Their relationship is shown through the knowledge that each of them knows (as it shows that they talk about and share what happened during the night). When someone dies, the characters can become depressed.
A radio can be made to give the player more of an insight into the world that the game is set in. This can be anything from warning about dodgy meat being sold, to the weather. It may not be valuable information, but it is a good insight into the world in general as it shows what people believe is necessary enough to report on.
There are also ‘outside characters’ that are apart of the story. As the game goes on, they keep popping up, and it feels like ‘your actions will have consequences’ is vital at these points. For example, if you steal from someone, they may not survive.
I did a total U-turn with this game, and I really hope that this is the only part of this review that you can tell that. I hated this game. I wanted so badly to like it but got easily frustrated. After writing this review, I felt like it deserved another shot. I did not want to be overly negative about a game, especially if it did not deserve it. And this game really did not deserve the negativity I gave it.
There is an issue with the graphics, but that is nothing new. This game is different from the ones I usually play. But I am so glad that I gave it another go because once I did, I enjoyed it significantly more.
This actually taught me a lot about myself as a gamer; I am too stubborn, and I should definitely give more games more of a chance. It makes me wonder how many games I have claimed to dislike but just have not given enough of a chance.
In conclusion, this game is interesting. It is hard to take seriously as a console game. The resemblance to Fallout Shelter is strong. It may have been better suited to a mobile game. That being said, it is fun after the first couple of days. I started having fun when I stopped taking it seriously, which is a little strange for a survival game set in wartime.
TLDR: This is a fun game with some issues, but overall good. Just do not take it too seriously, and you should have a good time.
Overall Rate: 6/10