Horror is difficult to make. Anyone can make a jumpscare or put a picture of a spider on the screen, but the difference between the best and worst of the bunch is more often than not down to one thing; atmosphere.
The reason movies like Get Out! and The Lighthouse sit so firmly in our collective consciousness because of their use of hostile or weird auras that the viewer picks up on. I remember watching Hereditary in the cinema and the atmosphere in that movie was so unnerving that the scares didn’t need to be outlandish. But games have an innate advantage because they’re interactive.
This War Of Mine is a survival horror game that takes place in a country besieged by a civil war, and you take control of the lives of a group of survivors. Each survivor has their own skills, stories, and problems, and your decisions will decide whether they live until the ceasefire, or become another casualty.
The concept of the game is something to be applauded. The war is still very much a thing, even if you don’t really see it. You can get information about it from the radio but all you know really is that it’s a civil war and it’s dangerous to go out during the day. The nuance of the conflict is mostly ignored, and while this would not fly in a game where you’re the soldier or rebel, the nature of the war is irrelevant here because you’re playing the innocent bystanders trying to survive. To quote Alien vs. Predator, whoever wins, we lose. This is what makes good horror content great. It’s a real feeling of helplessness because the world around you is hostile, and it discusses the human condition. Very quickly, scavenging from abandoned houses and buildings becomes stealing from other people in your situation.
The visuals in this game are wonderful. Everything is varying shades of grey with the characters having actual portraits and not drawings. This really puts the player up close and personal with the trauma this game deals with. To see the city in ruins is something that is quite harrowing. The worst part is, this sort of thing is a reality for millions of people worldwide. Whether intentional or not, this game did make me think about the world around me quite a lot.
This isn’t normally what I’d consider putting in a review, but the game is very friendly for mods. I played through the game with the base characters, then I did actually download a mod which let me play as Rick, Carol, and Daryl from The Walking Dead.
The only real con in this game, for me at least, is the limited looting stacks, particularly for construction materials. I know this game is gritty and realistic, but having to go out 3 times to pick up materials needed to make essential survival gear is quite frustrating, particularly when it gets risky for your characters to do so
If you want a game which takes a different twist on the survival horror genre and is a hauntingly realistic representation of what could be, and probably is, going on somewhere in the world, then This War of Mine delivers with flying colours...that are all grey.
One thing I’d like to mention is that this format for a game works extremely well, and as a zombie fanatic, I’d love a zombie game with this style of gameplay instead of just run and gun. Zombies may be overdone, but this style lends itself to the genre so well.
Or check out the board game for TWOM.
Enjoying our work. Give us a follow everywhere and tell a friend.
PLAY, OBEY, CONSUME.