This War of Mine (Switch) – Review
Follow Genre: Survival/Crafting
Developer: 11 bit studios with War Child
Publisher: 11 bit studios
Platform: PC, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Tested on: Switch

This War of Mine (Switch) – Review

Site Score
6.5
Good: Tries to do something different, real
Bad: Repeats itself a lot because of the ''realness'' factor
User Score
9.0
(5 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 9.0/10 (5 votes cast)

This War of Mine has been with us for some time now. First released in 2014, the game spread itself to multiple platforms including mobile app stores. Now, four years later, this trend continues by putting the game on the Nintendo Switch as well. For a pretty steep €39,99/$39,99 average, you can get a copy on your entertainment system. Not surprising, judging by the average price of most games on the Switch, but at least it has the DLC of The Little Ones (stories) included. 

Story

The idea behind This War of Mine is that you largely create your own path by trying to survive with different characters. You start out with a seemingly randomized set of people that took shelter in a run-down crappy building. Created with War Child, This War of Mine tries to tell real stories based upon real people, which is why it’s actually surprising that besides the biography of each character you start with, they don’t have that much unique interaction or conversation lines. Sure, depending on the age and how sensitive they are to certain things they might have a slight amount of unique personalities, yet the general quotes will always be something in the direction to help you know what you need to provide for your war-ridden Sims. ”It’s cold in here”, ”I’m hungry”, ”I wish there was something to do”.

For a game that wants to tell you a story about individuals, it does remarkably little with individuality in the classic survival mode. Besides that, the game does not deliver any cutscenes or story other than the one you create yourself. The game actually splits this aspect up by making it the main focus in the DLC ”The Little Ones”. Here, the story is way more the focus, combining it with different scenarios and required survival. Perhaps it would have been nicer though to combine both parts into a single game.

Graphics

This War of Mine has a neat doll house type of look-through where you control your characters by letting them go to different rooms and such. The game is dark and gritty in its design and almost feels like it has a handmade sketch touch to it. A fair note though, while taking the Switch with you, the graphics aren’t as nice as on a TV. It sometimes shows slightly glitchy lines as you move around and the 3D models get highlighted or passed by. Animations are done pretty well, though sometimes feel a bit sluggish since most of the movement a character does will rather slow.

Sound

Most of the sound is not bad, but it’s also pretty minimalistic. The background music is but a desolate guitar, signifying the wasteland that every war created for the survivors. The rest is simple yet effective. A knock at the door, the sound of scraping through rubble to clean it up and so on. Yet there are a lot of sounds that seem missing from the game. There could be added a lot more while cooking for example, or maybe some more human noises in a game that’s about humans and has no voice acting.

Gameplay

This War of Mine is a survival game based on resource collection and crafting. The game has a classic mode and a story mode available as downloadable content. Though the story mode does what you expect, telling a story, both the classic mode and story mode have the same core mechanics. You have a group of people, two or more, who you actively have to take care of like in The Sims. They got no clear bars showing what their status is like, yet they do have clear indicators of what is wrong with them. Going from ”hungry” to ”very hungry”, other status reminders are ill, tired, and sad. Each has their own variation of severity. Kids also need less food to stop being hungry, yet that’s about the complexity of the game. You might as well call This War of Mine, ”Sad Sims”.

Sad Sims is not all you can play. To maintain your survival chances, people need to go out and scavenge. At the beginning you might find some materials and usable stuff as you go through the semi-destroyed building you start in. Then you go out at night to actively play in a different area like a supermarket or hospital. Starting the game you will first be able to take some safe trips, though when nobody guards the house (with weapons), you might find yourself robbed when you return from the scavenge. Basically every night you have to make a choice and pray a bit, hoping it turns out for the best. Then the real morality questions kick in. There is no food left, there are no materials to be found anywhere near that you need to progress. Somebody is sick and if they get no medicine they will die.

These types of situations force you to broaden your search. Will you start stealing from the sick and the poor? Will you take it with violence when needed? Will you risk your own life by stealing from other aggressors? At these moments, when the game is willing to take everything from you, the game is actually at its best cause things are happening. Otherwise, the game is actually… pretty boring in a way. Somebody out there has to agree with this opinion. There are so many crafting games based on survival that have many options available. This War of Mine is rather limited. Mainly you will try to Tamagotchi your way through as you manage your resources and cook, craft and gather. It doesn’t mean This War of Mine is a bad game. People should applaud an original approach to tell real stories with human nature. It just means that This War of Mine could have been so much more. And especially four years after the original release, the game offers little improvements since it first came out, even with the DLC included. Not to mention the controls on the Switch are really annoying at times. When tapping, everything is fine but you might as well be playing the game on your phone. While walking using an analog stick, the game will often not make the connection you want between going up and down floors or left and right around a staircase.

Conclusion

A lot about This War of Mine feels likable, but at its steep price, the little variation in maintaining your Sad Sims, and the mostly ”ok” elements such as the sound and graphics of the game, if you already played this game on anything else there is absolutely no reason to buy it on the Switch. The game simply contains too little rogue elements such as the starting survivors to make much of a difference, since you will be stuck with the limited crafting and same loops of day and night pretty fast. It was a nice attempt at putting humanity in games, but especially now, four years later after the original release, there surely are developers who could make a much better, gripping game about the civilian side of wars.

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Rating: 9.0/10 (5 votes cast)
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This War of Mine (Switch) - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 5 ratings
Pim Hoogeveen
Pim Hoogeveen


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