I'm really enjoying This War of Mine.
Actually, that's wrong. "Enjoying" is too jolly a word for such a bleak game. This War of Mine puts you in control of a band of civilian survivors trying to eke out an existence in the rubble of a war zone. Food is scarce, illness is widespread, and extreme circumstances have led many into taking extreme measures to survive. The pockets of humanity that are left are rife with mistrust and paranoia, and you must do all that you can to keep your characters alive.
Well... "must" is a strong word too.
See, This War of Mine is all about choices. It's what you might expect The Walking Dead to look like if they replaced the zombie apocalypse with a war-torn one, and took the shackles off the story so you could create your own survival narrative packed with questionable decision and moral crises.
As you'll see in the video, the characters you take control of are not hardened action heroes or gritty folk well-seasoned in the art of living off the grid. These are regular Joes and Janes, people who never thought they'd live through times such as those depicted here. Their concerns are basic -- food, warmth, health, safety -- but I was struck by the appearance of "sad" in their character files after I accidentally got one of them killed on a night-time scouting mission. Clicking them open, I realised that they'd been chronicling the days through brief journal entries -- character reflecting on the things that I'd caused to happen. The mental strain of it all taking a toll on their efficiency.
There are others out in the war zone too, and a variety of places to creep out too at night in a desperate effort to find supplies and building materials. Some may come to your door looking for aid, and you have to decide whether or not to to let them in on the off-chance that they might have something useful to trade for or want to become a part of your team (an extra set of hands vs an extra mouth to feed), or keep the door shut in case they're bluffing and plotting an ambush. Inaction can cost you, I found that out the hard way after letting one my tired characters sleep while the other went scavenging. But with no one standing guard, our shelter was raided, the sleepy fellow wounded more gravely than he had been before, and a bunch of our hard-earned supplies vanished into the night.
Then there was the old couple I came across, huddled up by the fireplace in a house I was casing. I felt really bad after that particular night. You can see what happens in the video.
There are no easy choices in this game. Supplies don't magically replenish -- if you loot a house, it's going to be fairly empty the next time you go back, and so you're forced into more dangerous areas, tasked with dealing with paramilitary troops, crazy loons, trigger-happy groups with exactly what you need when you have nothing that they want. You have to look to other options, come to terms with unsavoury alternatives, and be prepared to put prices on lives. In the full game, of course, the war will have randomly-generated end points, the siege on your city will lift, and there'll be something of a moral reckoning -- will you be able to live with the choices that you've made?
I'm looking forward to finding out. Check out the game's official site here.