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This War of Mine (Switch) Review

by David Lloyd - November 26, 2018, 9:23 pm PST
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8

A unique strategy-sim that will keep you up into the wee hours of the night.

Sometimes I wonder if Nintendo has a theme scheduled for each month of the year. One month they’ll release several different twin-stick shooters, then the next month they’ll have a whole bunch of roguelike offerings. In November, the Switch has gotten some fantastic ports of strategy-simulation titles from PC, and the month caps off with the release of This War of Mine from 11 Bit Studios. Porting a title reliant upon point-and-click gameplay is always a challenge. Though the premier version still remains on PC, the unique strategy gameplay is still worth experiencing on Switch.

This War of Mine takes the perspective of civilians during a military occupation, having you struggle to keep a group of ordinary citizens alive. Resources are limited and competition is fierce. The days are spent crafting equipment, preparing food, and reinforcing defences to reduce or prevent theft. The daily repetition can feel a bit slow at first but as the pressure mounts and the group comes closer to the edge of defeat, the satisfaction of seeing the sunrise again is well worth the commitment.

Starting off in an abandoned home, a number of actions are available to be assigned to each survivor – establishing available resources, clearing out debris, and taking stock of the equipment you’ll need to survive occupy the early days. At night, you can send a single scout out to scavenge at nearby locations while the remaining party can either guard the home or rest for the night. At the chosen location, the scout will carefully search for resources and you’ll select which supplies are most important to bring back. Each of the different locations provide a rough assessment of the supplies available and the level of danger. An overly ambitious scout mission into a dangerous area can leave you short-handed for the remainder of the game.

Apart from the obvious downgrade in graphical detail, the most obvious difference between the PC and Switch versions is in how tasks are assigned. On PC, once a character is selected their movement is controlled by clicking on an area of the screen. This contrasts with the experience on Switch, where you have to manually walk them to each station to trigger the event instead of pointing and clicking. Manually controlling each character slowed down the pace during the hectic preparation period during the day, but this would be only noticeable had you played on PC first.

A full playthrough will fluctuate in length since the number of days required to survive is randomly generated. Each day and night cycle takes about 10 to 15 minutes. To help keep each new campaign fresh, you can choose the number of survivors and the ones you’ll attempt to keep alive.Each survivor has their own strengths and weaknesses, whether it’s the ability to cook using less resources or an increased running speed to avoid nightly dangers. Enjoying subsequent playthroughs is especially important since it will take a few attempts to understand how the mechanics are employed and how to develop winning strategies. The present and future DLC that comes included provides campaigns with variations to the base gameplay. By introducing new restrictions and requirements, the DLC adds hours of enjoyment on top of the base game.

This War of Mine does a fantastic job of providing a thought-provoking experience through strategic thinking and tough decision making. As you begin to learn more about the systems with each passing day, it’s easy not to notice real-world minutes turn into hours. I found myself restarting a campaign quite often after discovering a new strategy and my enjoyment increased each time. This is definitely one of those games that if you play late at night, you might just find yourself trading in some sleep to get through just one more day.

Summary

Pros
  • Edge of the seat tension
  • Highly replayable
  • Well balanced and complex strategy
Cons
  • Requires a commitment to learn the systems and strategy
  • Some of the selections placed too closely together

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Game Profile

Genre Action
Developer 11 bit studios
Players1

Worldwide Releases

na: This War of Mine
Release Nov 2018
Publisher11 bit studios
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