This War Of Mine is a video game that was designed to give players a realistic and emotionally challenging experience of what it is like to live in a war zone. Here, you do not play as an elite soldier or combat-ready renegade. Instead, the game is played from the perspective of ordinary citizens who are trying to survive in a post-conflict landscape, scavenging and defending against hostile foragers.
The game was inspired by the sieges of the Bosnian War that took place from 1992 to 1995. Gameplay takes place as a side-scrolling platformer, as the player navigates through different buildings and unique landscapes with a side-on view.
This War Of Mine’s pace is based on a day-to-night cycle. During the day, enemy snipers prevent the player from leaving their shelter. The player must focus their efforts on maintaining their refuge by crafting materials, trading with other characters and overseeing the health of the group of survivors. When night falls, the player must venture outside to search for food, medicine and other supplies – at the risk of encountering enemy scavengers.
At various points, the game tests the moral compass of the player. Events are spurred on by the player’s decisions and repercussions are unclear at first. For example, would you try to protect every single survivor in your group or sacrifice some of them for the long-term survival of others?
Choosing at what lengths one would go to keep an ailing friend alive, or which stranger (if any) one would allow to join the survival campaign, or which unfamiliar neighbouring building should be infiltrated on the next supply hunt, all form part of the player’s control.
The game presents difficult ethical problems without clear indication of what is good or bad. The only objective is survival. It is an often unforgiving exercise in art imitating life, as This War Of Mine offers a stark and atmospheric take on the gruelling realities of living with war, far removed from the shoot first & ask questions later approach of most wartime depictions.