This title from 11 bit studios is drastically different from any other game I have seen, and the experience has been profoundly moving. A game loosely based on the atrocities of war during the Siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian revolution, this game has you see war from the perspective of civilians trying to survive in the middle of a conflict zone.
The mechanics of the game are fairly simple; at night, one of your survivors (whoever has the best skills at scavenging) goes to one of many marked areas on your map to look for food, materials, and water. These items are then used to upgrade your home, cook meals, and make useful items when you are back home. Items (such as low quality booze) can be traded either with a wandering trader or at the market, when it unlocks.Everything is run through a barter system, as the local currency is worthless.
Some of the gameplay elements remind me of what my parents and grandparents have told me about Soviet Russia, especially during World War II. Different areas of the map unlock and close at different times, as the war between the military and the rebels shifts between different parts of the city. During the day, you spend time making food and materials for night time scavenging as military snipers kill anyone they see. Wartime atrocities are committed by both sides as you try to keep your small band of survivors alive.
Each survivor has their own skillset and a backstory that explains their skillset. For example, Bruno was a reality show cook before the war, and he uses less water when cooking meals. However, he needs cigarettes or his mood starts dropping quickly. If a character becomes too depressed, they kill themselves or turn on the people who live with them. This game is very unforgiving; you must juggle scant food, deciding who will go hungry for a few days, who goes scavenging and whether they can sleep during the day or need to be up to craft items to keep your tenuous hold on survival.
The graphical style is very fitting with the game’s theme. It is entirely black and white, shaded, almost like a moving pencil drawing. The music is somber, and everything conveys the general mood in the game: of desperate survival. It sends a very powerful message. The player quickly becomes attached to the characters, especially if they read the bios by clicking on a character’s name. This makes the constant setbacks of the game even more poignant.
Overall, I recommend this game to anyone who wants to see how gaming has evolved over the years. This game tells a very powerful story about people caught in the middle of a war; the countless civilians, people who are not fighting for or against a cause but just trying to survive. It tells the story of a group of such people, controlled by the player, who can make morally ambiguous decisions or try to survive honorably. But however you play, the story of these survivors will stay with you, and remind you of the cost of war.
Update Schedule: (Finished Product)
Emotional Interactive Storytelling: 5
Hi! I am Eugene Shenderov, and I am a starting game designer. You can find my website at www.thisandthatgames.com. Send me a message if you have any questions!
Have a great day!