#2 this year is another example of the creativity that can be seen from the Indie market. Just like my #1 pick for last year, The Swapper, today’s game tells a lot without needing millions of dollars of development and advertising and continues to prove that Indie developers can stand with AAA in terms of quality.
#2: This War of Mine
This War of Mine takes place in a country during a civil war between the government and rebel forces that is tearing the country apart. But unlike other military focused games, you’re not fighting to either save or condemn the government, in fact you’re not fighting the war at all. Instead, you play as a group of survivors who are just trying to survive.
Despite the minimal graphics and UI, This War of Mine has an amazing washed out aesthetic that helps to pull you into the destruction of what happens when people go to war. Very few developers are able to create a game with a unifying sense of aesthetics and mechanics and 11 Bit Studios manages to nail it with this. All the more impressive is that I had no idea at first that the developers were the creators of the Anomaly series as this is a huge jump for them in terms of quality and design.
What makes the game so amazing is how it forces you to choose your morality without actively taking a stand or judging you for it. In most games, right and wrong are defined by elementary school understanding of morality and hard coded by the developer. What This War of Mine does so well is that it constantly challenges you to decide between what’s right and what’s “right.”
From a moral standpoint, breaking into someone’s home for food and supplies is wrong and considered theft. But if you’re trying to feed three people and keep them going, is it right to force them to starve? These types of questions highlight the experience and there really isn’t any game that takes the horrors of war and focuses it on the civilians who are trying to survive.
The game is split between day and night operations where during the day you’ll focus on improving your shelter and managing resources and at night you’ll choose an area to go to for scavenging.
While This War of Mine is definitely unique, one popular request from fans is having more randomization in terms of conditions and events put into an endless mode. At the moment the game does end at some point and it would be interesting to see how this would play out over the really long run.
This War of Mine is a great game that stands apart from everything else, but unlike last year it’s not getting the #1 spot from me. And the reason is that my #1 game didn’t go for uniqueness but quality. Delivering one of the most impressive examples of its genre that I’ve seen and you’ll just have to wait until tomorrow to find out what that game was.