a definitive classic

1984, Sarajevo. The city is an admired model of integration, in full economic growth and ready to host the Winter Olympics. April 1992 – February 1996, Sarajevo. The city is destroyed by the longest seat of the 20th century. Tragically known for the violence and savagery that set it apart, siege of sarajevo is the main source of inspiration that led the team to 11-bit studios shape This war of mine.

A video game that is above all a human experience, the title does not exhaust its identity on the confines of a tablecloth or a screen. For this reason, the team’s desire to offer the final version on PlayStation 5 And Xbox series X | S. Available on console from May 10, 2022 – also included with Xbox Game PassThis War of Mine: Final Cut it represents the last stage of a management software which has the merit of describing in a non-trivial way the silent and inexorable brutality of war.

The moon rises in Sarajevo

The debut of This War of Mine is structured in a package that represents – in our opinion – the best way to approach the work of 11-Bit Studios. Thanks to an updated technical sector and the inclusion of narrative content that enriches the original experience, the final cut Is translated by a current and widely usable product even by those unfamiliar with the management genre.

The Story mode present in the title, in particular, represents an excellent starting point for discovering the playful system of the game. Illustrating the main mechanics in a semi-guided way, the latter is distinguished by the presence of a narrative component which allows you to explore the struggle for survival from the point of view of an interesting selection of protagonists.

The proposed stories are precisely three: A Father’s Promise; The last show And Dying embers. The context remains that of the traditional This war of mineor that of a civil war that plunged the country into chaos. There are no precise geographical coordinates and the nationalities quoted by 11-Bit Studios are the product of a fantasy, but, as pointed out at the beginning, it is not at all difficult to trace

what real historical events inspired the development team. In the midst of a violent and inexorable siege, the citizens who survived the relentless bombardments face a daily life marked by deprivation and dashed hopes. In each of the three narrative experiences, the title explores different aspects of the setting, ranging from the role of the media to cultural genocide. While being punctuated by predefined narrative events, the experiences offered by the modality stories offer the player a good dose of freedom of action by offering him moral dilemmas with no easy solution. In Dying embers, for example, you’ll find yourself having to choose between the need to preserve the culture of an entire people, the desire to keep their family history alive, and the harsh demands imposed by the desire to simply survive. Over the hours, the characters of This war of mine they open up to the player, revealing their own story, but also their dreams, hopes and desires, fostering growing identification.

An aspect also facilitated by the work of remastering implemented by 11-Bit Studios, which on PS5 and Xbox Series X | S offers an artistic style of great impact. The increased resolution and the complete reinterpretation of the lighting system give the nights of the destroyed metropolis a stylized but equally magnetic decay. Among bomb-ravaged buildings, broken roofs, dilapidated basements suitable for air-raid shelters, This War of Mine: Final Cut arouses spontaneous restlessness in the performer, in whose ears the echo of the bombings and the notes of a minimal but effective soundtrack resonate constantly.

With the final version of its title, the Polish studio also implemented a restructuring of the interface, which would however have benefited from greater linearity. Not always intuitive, the latter also comes up against a control system that does not convince. Son of an experience originally linked to the PC ecosystem, the commands of This war of mine struggling to find their size on console. A defect already a child of previous versions of the management software, which we would have liked to see resolved in this final incarnation. Several times, in fact, we found ourselves having to insist on convincing a character to go down/up the stairs, or struggling to select the one we wanted from the many prompts scattered around our refuge. Circumstances obviously not disabling, but which in any case end up generating frustration, especially when the day or night at stake is about to come to an end.

Ruthless but modelable gameplay

As already described in the first review of This War of Mine, the gameplay offered by the title is in fact structured in a constant alternation between day and night. Throughout the day, the incessant bombing of the city makes it impossible to leave your shelters. To aggravate the state of siege, it is also believed that the snipers, who are stationed in strategic areas, are targeting civilians, with the clear intention of weakening the morale of the population and pushing them to surrender. When the sun is high in the sky, all that remains is to try to organize your resources at best, transforming the walls that separate us from the outside world into a functional and – as far as possible – welcoming place.

The daylight hours are then spent cooking, chopping wood to accumulate fuel and making the most disparate objects, including shovels, pickaxes, beds, chairs, stoves or rudimentary radios. To try and speed up operations and maximize efficiency, the player can switch freely between characters. The latter, as mentioned, will be predefined in the modality stories, while they will be generated more or less randomly in the traditional game mode. However, the group of survivors will not have too many activities to do in the absence of essential materials, such as wood, electrical components, vegetables or medicinal herbs.

To try and collect these items and many more, players only have night at their disposal. With the favor and protection of darkness, players of This War of Mine: Final Cut they choose a single character with whom to venture through the streets of the besieged city. The other members of the group will remain inside the shelter, where we can choose to give them rest or keep them on guard. Once the preparations are complete, it’s time to choose one of the many points of interest located on the map – here more numerous than in the original game – from in search of fortune.

Between looted supermarkets, incredibly operational nightclubs, houses dismembered by enemy fire, players will have several minutes to try to collect as many as possible, in a way compatible with the

capacity of your backpack. Room after room, each scenery will offer, depending on its maturity, greater chances of recovering food or medicine and other tools. An old bakery could therefore still hide some food, while an abandoned shop is a rather safe destination if you are looking for electronic components. To fully explore a region, especially at the beginning, one night is hardly enough: rubble, blocked doors or other obstacles can in fact slow down our progress, forcing us to carry tools such as shovels or pickaxes. Unfortunately, in the reality of the conflict described by This war of mine, even weapons they represent a resource not to be neglected, because all the survivors whom we will cross during our nocturnal wanderings will not have friendly intentions. For this reason, during the night, the title betrays stealth gameplay previews, inviting us to move our alter-ego cautiously and exploit every crack to find out who or what is behind a closed door. After all, the player also has the freedom to adopt – at their own risk – a predatory attitude, steal from other survivors or act violently. Attitudes that, thanks to the chronic scarcity of resources, could end up seeming more justifiable over the hours of play.

Is it legitimate to deprive an elderly neighbor of his food to save one of our comrades from starvation? Can we kill a hostile person to get the wood we need to survive the harsh winter? These are the questions raised by This war of mine, without rhetoric, but only by the force of mechanical but deep gameplaywhich rewards the ability to organize one’s own action plan aimed at the sustainability of the group.

Despite efforts, however, death is a shadow that follows our every step: sickness, hunger and cold always hide within the fragile walls of our shelter. One of the reasons why even trying to keep your friends’ spirits up is an important task: the company of a book, the luxury of a cigarette or a shot of liquor, or even the chance to play the guitar. are all seemingly secondary details. , but it could make the difference when you find out in the morning that one of your survivors has decided to commit suicide.

This war of mineeven in his final cut, it is a ruthless game, which does not intend to soften the experience of war. Not for that, however, 11-Bit Studios neglected to pay attention to the issue of accessibility. Before starting a game, it is indeed possible customize different settings, like the number of days we will have to survive before the end of the siege or the severity of the coming winter. The editable elements are indeed quite numerous and allow a significant degree of customization, without this distorting the experience as a whole.

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