A haunting war game about civilian survival

Polish developer 11bit Studios' recently-released This War of Mine, a bit of a different look at video games' favorite setting. Focused on hiding, building and survival, it puts the player in charge of a team of civilians.

The game was inspired by the 1,425 day-long Siege of Sarajevo, which began in 1992 during the Bosnian War. Last night I played with a friend, guiding an unlikely family of survivors through the dangerous work of scavenging food and supplies, and fortifying a shell of a home against invaders. You manage different civilians each time -- this time we had an athlete, a reporter and a chef in our care. Later, we were joined by a warm school principal who was scared to be alone. We had no kids to care for and couldn't afford the extra mouth, but we couldn't turn her away.

After two weeks of building rat traps and water filters and bargaining with other wanderers, scavenging in abandoned rubble -- imagine The Sims, but very, very dark, made moreso by the lifelike photographs of our characters -- we found a hotel overrun by armed madmen. It was a gripping reminder that combatants are hardly the only consideration in conflict.

The game is available on Steam.

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