This War of Mine: Final Cut is the complete edition of 11 bit studios’ first game. It includes all previously released DLC and the full original game. The title came out in 2014 but has continued to be enhanced over the years. This version incorporates all of them into one large experience.
The basic gameplay tasks you with handling a group of survivors hiding out in a large house, the city they live in is under siege and you have to keep them alive for as long as you can or till the war is over. It has a 2D perspective in which you go out into the city looking for supplies and fighting with other residents.
The experience is generally dark and difficult as you risk life and limb bringing materials back to the house in order to build upgrades that allow you to feed the survivors, all while keeping a steady supply of water. Everyday you choose what location of the city you want to scout out, then you explore in a 2D perspective, moving through buildings, unlocking containers, talking with other citizens, and sometimes fighting enemies.
Each survivor has their own benefits and skills, and you can only use a certain amount each game so you have to choose wisely. This also allows a great deal of replay value as some have unique features that modify how you play This War of Mine.
Combat is simplistic; you swing melee weapons and occasionally get guns you can use. You need to keep in mind the spacing to dodge attacks, but it plays out similar to a 2D brawler. It can feel clunky occasionally, and sometimes you can be stun-locked into immediate death. Because of the permanent nature of death, each violent encounter is tense and nerve wracking.
These exploring sections are incredibly tense because all of your survivors have perma-death, meaning if you lose them out in the city, they are gone forever. It’s incredibly easy to get a game over if you lose everyone and this means that This War of Mine is a stressful and engaging survival experience.
All the DLC and new content has been included into the main experience with the Final Cut, which generally adds much more content, including many new locations to explore in the city and new survivors to play with. The most interesting content additions are new scenarios that put you into unique stories and offer different obstacles to face.
For example, one tasks you with handling a group that has children which have different abilities and weaknesses compared to the adults, another has you play with a radio operator/journalist which creates new mechanics involving covering the truth. My favorite is when you go about playing as an art preservationist, introducing new mechanics of saving the cultural heritage of the city while also surviving.
The city of This War of Mine is based on a real life conflict in the Bosnian War called the “Siege of Sarajevo ” in which citizens were trapped in the city for over a hundred days. The base game and the DLC offerings create a beautiful portrait of war in the modern time, as each of the many survivors you can play as offer new perspectives on various aspects of living and surviving in a war zone.
While the story and ideas are noble, trouble can come from actually playing the game. It can be a very frustrating experience for some, mostly as it’s hard and unforgiving. You should save often because games can end incredibly quickly if you don’t intimately plan out where you’re scouting and how many resources you have. This is definitely not for everyone, it’s unforgiving for mistakes and requires a lot of focus.
Also because of the subject matter, it’s not really an escapist type of game. It can be shocking, depressing, and disgusting on occasions. It’s a hard game about some serious stuff. If you’re looking for something to play to relax or forget the world, this is not what you’re looking for. It’s a statement piece, made to provoke and make you think.
With all the content available, the beautiful charcoal art style, the tense survival gameplay, the wonderful stories, This War of Mine: Final Cut is something that is absolutely worth your time – as long as you know what you’re getting into. Surviving in Sarajevo will be an experience you will likely not forget for a long time.
This War of Mine: Final Cut is available from the Xbox Store