Monday, November 17, 2014

This War of Mine

This is a powerful, emotionally corrosive game.

I started playing earlier today, and find myself entirely unable to stop. My group of fellow survivors, living in an abandoned and decrepit building, are losing their emotional resiliency as our problems mount up. Self-sufficiency is a cruel fairy tale from other, more prosperous times.

My life is quite simple, on the face of it. During the day, I make what I can in the workshop. Tools, furniture, even weapons, but only if I have the right raw materials. I might also trade, if I trust the person enough to open the front door. If someone else is taking care of those responsibilities, I might grab some sleep. We only have one bed right now, so we use it in shifts.

At night, one of us goes to scavenge for supplies. This is critical, because it's not like we're going to be growing our own food anytime soon, and the last time I looked, this abandoned building was lacking a pharmacy.

There are relatively safe places to scavenge, but they will rarely have food and medicine. Sure, try the local superstore, except everyone else within 20 miles is thinking the same thing. Unless you want to resort to violence, you become a human rat, searching through every trash pile, through everything, for supplies. And the longer you're a rat, the more the potential rewards of violence begin to drift into your head.

The slow grind of despair is a remarkable achievement for any developer. Individual moments in this game weigh heavily on me, and I find myself agonizing over minor decisions. As my fragile band begins to weaken, both physically and spiritually, I find that a virtual despair settles over me as well.

Like I said in the open, powerful and emotionally corrosive. Brilliantly.

I'm not going to explain the mechanics or go anywhere that could remotely be considered a spoiler. The game's website is here, and I encourage you to go have a look. This War of Mine is exceptional, and exceptionally gripping.

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