This War of Mine: The Little Ones – Morale and Survival Instincts Test – Games, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Since the end of January, console gamers have also been able to enjoy a hotly debated survival title that has won the German award for the best international game and the award for the best international new game world. We’re talking about the less colorful game This War of Mine. The title from 11 bit Studios, which came to the PC in November last year, is still given the not inconsiderable nickname “The Little Ones” on the consoles. Contrary to the PC version, there are now children struggling to survive while the city of Pogoren is under siege and the civilians are cut off from all supplies. They laugh, cry, play and see the world with completely different eyes. Visually, not much has changed since the PC predecessor. The side scroller stays true to its very intense, dark and dreary design with light pencil shading and saves on color. But with this look you meet today’s idea of ​​war as a civilian. Many people who have not experienced it themselves tend to think of black-and-white images that they might remember from history lessons or documentaries. So This War of Mine: The Little Ones hits the nerve of the time again and gives the game itself a slightly absorbing atmosphere through this style.

This-War-of-Mine-The-little-ones-01At the beginning we play a small group of three people in an abandoned house, which will become our new home. Each of them has its own ability that will come in handy as we progress through the game. So Katia is a former reporter and what do reporters do best? Chatting of course! This is how she teases out the biggest deals from the dealer, when you really have to fight for every piece of meat or chunk of medicine. With the materials found in the rubble, closets and locked rooms, we can build a bed and a stove for starters. Bruno can then put his skills as a cook to the test at the stove. The former star of a cooking show knows how to use his resources sparingly and needs less water to prepare the valuable meals. After everyone has eaten, the first day ends and night falls. This War of Mine has two game phases that make up one day. One is the daily routine already described above, in which people take care of their needs such as food. At the same time, it is also the time to expand and strengthen the camp in order to be prepared for the coming night. Here you can always send one on a foray to find new materials, food or medicine while the others are either sleeping or on guard. Because it can also happen that bandits try to rob you at night and steal valuable items. You have to survive a total of 50 days, which is a pretty long dry spell.

This-War-of-Mine-The-little-ones-05We let Bruno stand guard while Katia recovers from a busy day and Pavle goes on the prowl. Completely unarmed, we look for a target that is as safe as possible, to look around there and hope to be lucky to find vital objects. We find an abandoned house that has suffered significant damage from a bombing. But we’re lucky and find food and some very useful resources in the unoccupied house. When we return, we learn that the night was calm and there were no incidents. Bruno quickly cooks something with the food he has found, while Pavle settles for a tin can and falls into bed. Katia uses the new items to build a tool bench, which she uses to craft a shovel and crowbar to clear the debris and open the locked rooms and cabinets.

This-War-of-Mine-The-little-ones-09So the first few days run in a certain routine. Katia is available during the day for the traders who come by occasionally. Bruno stands guard that night and Pavle goes on the prowl with a crowbar and shovel until Pavle returns badly injured one morning. In a supermarket he came across a group of bandits who weren’t in a particularly friendly mood. So it is that Pavle can just about return. Bandages are not available and so Katia has to go on a foray the following night to find medicine and food. Unfortunately, when she returns the next day and has everything to take care of Pavle, it is already too late. Pavle didn’t survive the night. Katia and Bruno are sad and blame each other for not being able to help. Her thoughts can always be followed via speech bubbles or read in her diary. It’s crushing how close the group’s loss comes. In general, 11 bit Studio tries to make the game atmospheric without dubbing the protagonists and they did an excellent job. Synchronization is usually not worthwhile for indie titles like This War of Mine, because these are either cheap and bad or expensive, which such a small title often cannot afford financially. The development studio deliberately goes the right way here, not installing any synchro and can thus create a credible and dense atmosphere. That doesn’t excuse the game’s very monotonous soundtrack, though. Of course it should be dreary, but you can work with a little more.

This-War-of-Mine-The-little-ones-06Every protagonist deals with their grief differently. Bruno helps himself with a bottle of alcohol while Katia throws herself into work. Because the group now consists of only two members, it is more difficult to collect new resources and many corners are quickly lacking. To make matters worse, a father comes with his child and asks for protection. We can’t bring ourselves to send the child away again and accept the two in the group. The father is very determined to get his child through this crisis and goes straight on the prowl. Although he encounters a small group of soldiers who are hostile to him, he still struggles through. Armed with a crowbar, he hides and waits for the right moment to eliminate one soldier after the other. This is where the somewhat notchy controls catch your eye for the first time. The difference between sneaking and running works entirely with the analog stick. This means that as I move the stick just slightly left or right, our survivor will sneak while sprinting on a hit. This-War-of-Mine-The-little-ones-12As a result, it is not only rare that we are accidentally too loud and are discovered. Often the only thing left for us to do is flee quickly if we don’t want to lose our protagonist. The moral choice to kill for the group is ubiquitous. The advantage of killing the soldiers is that the group now has pistols and rifles with ammunition and new resources. In the meantime, however, the father is now struggling with pangs of conscience as to whether it was the right thing to do. This War of Mine confronts us with all sorts of these choices not only among soldiers but also against other civilian groups. Again and again you come to a point where you have to make a decision and I catch myself reflecting on the situation again and again. Of course, that’s only possible to a limited extent, after all I don’t have nearly the same CV as the father of a family who has a little daughter to feed. Seasons also have a significant impact on gameplay. At some point, winter sets in and the house has to be heated, which, depending on the stove and the harshness of the winter, eats up fuel. Now we not only have to survive a lack of food, but also a lack of resources. Because if our house is not warm enough, our survivors will get sick and may die if we do not have enough medicine. Due to the randomized events such as robberies or battles in the city, which block potential locations for looting for a certain time, each run brings its own challenges. Everything promotes immersion in the ever-present danger of the demise of our protégés.


This War of Mine: The Little Ones really impressed me. I didn’t expect much, but I never thought that the immersion would be so strong. A second or third run is also worthwhile simply because of the completely different situations and the different approach. It is always a decision whether morality or survival instinct prevails. A great title that is really worth the money for €29.99.

This War of Mine: The Little Ones

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