It's end of the world as we know it.
Sometimes the post-apocalypse isn't brought on by zombies or conquering aliens, but by the modern day. Civil war, as the Polish developers of This War of Mine know all too well by their country's history, can leave refugees stranded and starving, left fending for themselves to scour for food and forced to make a decision that will scar their psyche for the rest of their lives. This War of Mine is not about any war in particular, apart from the war for personal survival.
The gameplay for This War of Mine sits somewhere strangely between Lone Survivor and The Sims, where you must direct a group of survivors to secure supplies and construct essentials, like a heater, stove, beds, and whatever else that would keep them in good health. The 2D environment is a cross-section of a dilapidated building, much like opening a dollhouse. By clicking on one of the survivors and then ordering them to perform various actions around home base and other areas available for scavenging, they can gather components and resources that will better improve their odds.
The starting house in the demo was worse than a humble fixer-upper, with piles of rubble everywhere, no beds placed anywhere, no healing supplies, and no food. For the first day, your survivors will be more or less well-rested, satisfied, and healthy, but without beds and food, your group will become progressively sicker and unmotivated. The first order of business is cleaning the house of rubber (a shovel helps speed the process), finding or creating lockpicks for opening doors and cabinets, and grabbing any easy supplies that are out in the open for components. That's because building the metal workshop, stove, and beds are perhaps the most important items to make—the sooner, the better.
When daylight expires, your party will need to decide who will sleep on the floor or on a suitable bed, who will guard the group against possible invaders, and who will scavenge for items. I forgot to scavenge after the first day, a fatal mistake which I needed to amend by restarting quickly. Taking weapons and lockpicks is certainly advantageous for the scavenger, but you'll want to have enough empty slots to bring back components, herbs for medicine, pill bottles, and whatever food you can muster.
Unfortunately, the scavenger might be stealing loot from other people, so you may need to be quick to retaliate or sneak by quietly. It might be compassionate to let a stranger take a place in your group, but it will increase the need for food, which is already scarce. Turning the stranger away may just be the best decision, but make too many cold choices and a character can become depressed. In a neat twist, the choices a character makes, for better or worse, will be written into his or her bio.
Since you can't pause the gameplay and assign orders while the game is frozen, it's important to tab between characters quickly. Much like The Sims, you'll want to save time wherever possible, making sure that characters don't waste precious minutes walking up and down stairs. The inventory is shared between members, so you can have someone wait at a locked door in the corner of the house, have another person craft a lockpick, and then instantly open the door.
Each member in the group has different abilities that should be considered. Good cooks can double the portions of anything he or she cooks, skilled bargainers can get more out of books and jewelry drops, and stealthy or fast runners will be great scavengers. Rotating between members to conserve energy and keep everyone in good condition is a key strategy that you'll learn as you continue to play the game. But it's a lesson you'll need to learn fast, because winter is coming. Quite literally.
This War of Mine has no proper release date, but 11-bit Studios is planning for it to release by the end of the year for PC.