This War of Mine Stories: Fading Embers DLC – Review
Follow Genre: Adventure, Simulation
Developer: 11 bit studios
Publisher: 11 bit studios
Platforms: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Mac, Android, PC
Tested on: PC

This War of Mine Stories: Fading Embers DLC – Review

Site Score
8.0
Good: New storyline and characters, New collecting mechanic, Choices feel heavier, Multiple endings
Bad: Cutscenes cannot be skipped, Slots for securing artwork cannot be filled as you wish, Artwork is locked until mortar shells hit the buildings
User Score
8.0
(3 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 8.0/10 (3 votes cast)

Almost five years after the original release date, This War of Mine developers continue to push out content for the gritty resource gathering and crafting micromanagement game. Fading Embers is the third downloadable content pack continuing the Stories series in the city of Pogoren, showing yet another group of survivors trying to do what feels right for them.

Story

Whilst the first DLC Father’s Promise followed a father trying to protect his daughter, and the second DLC The Last Broadcast (which we reviewed here) followed a radio-operator walking the thin line of betrayal, the third DLC Fading Embers follows a group of Vysenis who will do everything in their power to protect their culture and heritage.

Safeguarding objects depicting the ancestry and tradition is proving to be a monumental struggle as the city of Pogoren is under constant siege and the army continues to meticulously target their attacks to break the citizens’ spirit. Matters take a turn for the worse when the Grazni army has been ordered to destroy any kind of artifact from the Vyseni legacy, ranging from cultural to religious value. In their pursuit to do so, they leave a trail of dead bodies, some are lucky to escape the bloodshed, but they are haunted by nightmares of recent events.

A lucky survivor found his way to Anja, an orphan who has been living in her grandfather’s house. She meets Milena, an avid advocate of reserving the Vyseni artwork and Anja happens to have a shed full of unique examples of local Vyseni art and personal memorabilia but choices will need to be made for Anja’s survival and securing the heritage.

Graphics

As we suspected, the Fading Embers DLC did not change the visuals so we are met with cold and gloomy colors in combination with the destruction caused by the ongoing mortar shells, everything has a very monotonous color to it. The open dollhouse-look through the buildings doesn’t remove the gigantic details poured into each structure, and the patterns of wood and concrete are clearly distinct. The flashbacks to past events are also monotonous but they feature warmer colors, clearly showing the better times when all was thriving. Both the past and present views have a hand-drawn look to them. And as always, this DLC also comes with a day and night cycle.

Animation-wise, we didn’t feel that the game has changed. The characters have the same walking and running animations, as well as the sluggish movements when tired, starving or feeling unwell. The crafting animation has also not changed.

Sound

The sound design continues to feature an instrumental soundtrack, which fits the theme of being in a desolated area torn by war, and various ambiance sounds such as hammering sounds when crafting items, the crackling of a fire and going through debris either by hand or with a shovel. Each of the various actions has its own distinct sound but what has been lacking from the very start are voice-overs and human grunts. Personally, I don’t mind the lack of these specific sounds, but we can imagine that some might find the lack of boring.

Gameplay

This War of Mine is a simulation survival game with plenty of atmospheric elements and simplistic controls. The Fading Embers DLC has full controller support but the game plays excellently with the mouse alone.

The building you’ll start off in is the house of Anja’s grandfather who has recently passed away and as per usual, the amount of resources and equipment is very limited. During the day cycle, characters will stay indoors, and that time is used to search through the rubble in the house, ensuring the fires have enough fuel and creating additional crafting stations and furniture to make life easier. In Anja’s case, she will need to do all of this whilst also tending to the heavily wounded man that has come to her house.

When the day cycle has ended, you can assign people to specific tasks during the night cycle. One person can scavenge at the location you’ve chosen, another can guard, sleep or sleep in a bed. If you have more than one or two people, it can be wise to put one person on guard duty whilst the other sleeps in a bed as raiders can come and visit you. What is more important is that you choose the right person for scavenging, which is often Anja as her backspace is bigger, meaning you can loot more resources.

Whilst on scavenging trips to any of the new or enhanced overhauled locations, you’ll come across people with good or bad intentions. Those with good intentions often have requests that you can fulfill, but their requests are for resources that you will need yourself. Those with bad intentions should be avoided at all costs as they can wound or even kill you. Additionally, a new mechanic has been added to enhance the storyline of safeguarding the heritage. Locations can now have artifacts that you can collect and secure. During dire times, these artifacts can also be used to barter with or turn into fuel, but these are choices that should not be taken lightly.

You can’t scavenge when mortar shells hit the city during the night, losing precious resources, but it also means that you have more to do during the day cycle. Structures can be in rubble or ceilings will need to be supported to secure more artwork. There is an issue with securing the artwork. You can secure artwork up to three slots and some artworks only take up one slot whilst others take two or three. If you know for a fact, another area in the building has artwork of one slot, you can’t secure that as it needs to be done separately. Furthermore, certain pieces can only be secured after the ceiling is about to crumble down, extending the gameplay for no good reason.

Your choices matter in the Fading Embers DLC. Requests that aren’t met, or are met with waiting too long, can result in those people dying from cold or worse. These revelations can alter the mood of the scavenger. Additionally, the game will have several moral choices to make, as well as relocation choices. This leads to having multiple endings, making it a perfectly replayable game.

Conclusion

The Fading Embers DLC features yet another excellent storyline during the hardships of armed conflict and includes a new collection mechanic that highlights the storyline even further via the means of securing artworks, the ability to gather new pieces and eventually deciding the fate of these artifacts. There are a few downsides to this new mechanic though, as certain pieces are locked until mortar shells have hit the building. The flashbacks to past events are of great importance and truly connect the player with both the characters as well as the art collection found in various new and overhauled locations. Whilst the core mechanics have remained untouched, the Fading Embers DLC is well worth playing for its cost as long as you keep in mind that the new mechanic isn’t perfect.

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Rating: 8.0/10 (3 votes cast)
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This War of Mine Stories: Fading Embers DLC – Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
Drydwen
Drydwen


Hi! I'm Jess and I’m a writer, dreamer and gamer at heart since the early ages. I primarily game on PC but occasionally also on PS4 and Xbox One. I have a tiny obsession for World of Warcraft and caterpillars but you may also claim I have a devoted passion for the gaming industry in general. If you want to hit me up, find me on twitter!

1 Comment

  1. Ibuki
    Ibuki
    August 19, 2019, 12:19 am

    Still doubting to get the Switch version of the game.

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