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Some parts of this review could be considered spoilers. There are events and periods of time that happen in every playthrough, but since so much is determined by your choices, it is not especially narrative driven. As such none of these ‘spoilers’ will impede your enjoyment of the game.

In the existing strategy and first-person shooter games you can battle on the side of just about any empire or freedom fighter imaginable, whether historical, recent, or fictional. There is no such glory for those with no dog in either side of the fight. In This War of Mine, by the Poland-based game developers 11 Bit Studios, you are in control of a small group of civilians with nothing in common who have sheltered together with just one ultimate objective: survive.

Screen shot 2014-12-29 at 16.55.55

Your bare shelter is located in the devastated fictional city of Pogoren, caught up in a conflict between a rebel group and the state military. Everyone in your small group, which starts out as three of twelve playable characters, has a back-story that explains their unique talent. Zlata is a musician who was accepted to study at a music academy shortly before war broke out, and is able to cheer up the other housemates. Bruno was a celebrity chef, making him best placed to do the cooking around the house. These and the ten other abilities have varying degrees of usefulness in a survival situation. The day is time for improving the shelter, cooking, and making other resources; at night, one out of your party can scavenge and steal from another location, such as a hospital, church, or military outpost. The others stay behind and sleep or stay on guard. (At this stage, the game is being, and will be, frequently updated. Initially the character selection was random. Now, after completing it once, you have the option to choose your favourite characters, or the worst three to give yourself a challenge. In the same update a new shelter was added, which I look forward to playing around with.)

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