Review: This War of Mine: Stories – Father’s Promise – Promises never broken

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This War of Mine: Stories – Father’s Promise aims to bring in a brand new look behind the scenes at the tolls of war and the effects it has on those that seek to survive it. This story, is about how far a father, Adam, will go to save his daughter’s life.


Pros:
+Runs extremely smooth on mobile devices
+Tap and move controls run rather well for This War of Mine: Stories – Father’s Promise
+
Sounds rather well, just as you would expect from the PC or console versions
+A hauntingly beautiful story

Cons:
-The slower pacing and be somewhat of a turn off for some.


“In Modern War… You will die like a dog for no good reason.” – Ernest Hemingway

My experiences with This War of Mine over the years has remained a mixed bag of emotions. War, it’s ugly. Its costs are even uglier and the effects it has. Well… They’re the things nightmares are made of and maybe worse. The game, turning series, has begun to expand itself, bringing more realities of such occurrences and realities to the world.

When it comes to the realities of war, Adam and his daughter, Amelia, face a harsh reality in this familial drama, where the life-long effects of war and family issues become one as the world around them crumbles. In this reality, you cannot trust a single soul when it comes to survival. Not your mother, not your father, not even your neighbor you called brother. You can’t trust anyone and the only goal you have in mind: get your daughter out alive and get her the medical care she needs. Except, you need the help, even if it means being stabbed in the back.

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“War is not cheap, but it’s the human cost that’s the highest.” – Ross Kemp

As the war begins, it serves a backdrop to a familial drama, but soon enough the war and family issues become one. You cannot trust anyone. Not even your estranged brother. And the goal is clear: get your daughter out alive. It’s a subtle reminder of This War of Mine as a whole, a title that ties in different characters, different plot lines, but ultimately each coincides with one another as the effects of the war become a harsh reality and the way it affects each character becomes rather clear.

Here, that hasn’t changed all that much, but instead of multiple survivors, you’re focusing on two individuals. Your goal is to keep them fed, keep them healthy, rested, happy, and well… Alive. But it all sounds easier than it actually is. You have everything to lose, including Adam’s daughter if tough choices aren’t made at a moments notice. Except the memories remain. Adam’s wife has passed, Amelia herself is grief-stricken and won’t speak, eat, or even show a sign of hope as the war ensues.

It’s here that Ross Kemp’s quote above becomes a reality. The human cost is higher. Things go from bad to worse, and it’s ultimately up to you to ensure their survival. Can you explore at night? Will Amelia be safe if you leave her alone for just a couple of hours to scavenge for food, supplies, and even medical items? What about weapons to protect yourself with? It’s emotionally exhausting, even as gunshots, bomb explosions, and the cries of outsiders become the ‘song’ you hear.

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“I can’t leave her alone. Not like this.” – Unknown

You will find that days will progress rather slowly from time to time. You’ll even find that this design method is intentional. You can’t leave Amelia alone, she’s already fragile from her ailment and damaged from the death of her mother. However, you can’t stay warm forever, winter is slowly moving on, and your resources are already rather scarce.

The reality is, this narratively designed sense of storytelling is what builds up the narrative surrounding both Adam and Amelia both. It’s a realistic approach to how one would feel, how one would approach a similar situation and the design choice is there to simulate and make one mimic the anxiety Adam actually feels. It’s like time is moving, but at such a rate that minutes feel like hours, hours feel like days, and days feel like months.

The reality is, all we want to do is save the child. But there’s a harsher reality. One wrong move leaves her completely exposed to an outsider. The even harsher truth, she could die while we are away, scavenging any tools of survival we might need. It’s an emotionally taxing affair that will cause one to feel the dread of such a reality form at the very center of their heart.

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“Appear strong when you are weak, and weak when you are strong.” – Sun Tzu

When it comes to art and controls, 11bit Studios doesn’t disappoint. I’ve already spent dozens upon dozens of hours in This War of Mine, carefully taking in every pencil-sketch style piece I can, appreciating just how artistically driven the game actually is. To be honest, it’s one of the most stylized games on the market, and even with the mobile version I’ve had the opportunity to experience, the experience doesn’t change nor did how beautiful this darkly painted image actually is.

The only familiarities that carry over outside of one such experience are the controls themselves. The title has turned from a simple point and click, or moving a thumbstick, to tap and click controls where one tap will guide Adam smoothly between one location to another. A double tap will result in a hastened set of movements, urging him to sprint about.

Navigating the local hospital, which is somehow still functional after being shelled, or the occupied school are places you’ll explore the most, each coming with their own set of resources you can scavenge in limited quantities. The downside, it’s you versus them, and the choice you make doesn’t just affect them, but yourself as well. What you take from them will benefit you, but the opposite still applies. Their chances of survival have now been squandered by your decisions.

Aside from small narrative touches such as those above, you’ll even find that This War of Mine: Stories – Father’s Promise functions without the core game itself, making it appealing to those who want a single story versus a dozen different possibilities and story arcs to explore. It’s a clean title, one with a minimalistic HUD design that works rather well and presents itself as a rather clean design choice from 11 bit Studios.

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This War of Mine: Stories – Father’s Promise, is a masterpiece in disguise

When I look at Father’s Promise, I often want to draw comparisons between it and This War of Mine. I often want to draw linear paths between the two. I want to usually say, “this is faster, this is more open than Father’s Promise,” but the reality is, 11 bit Studios did this intentionally.

They wanted us to experience a deeply haunting, gut-wrenching, and suspenseful story where every second, minute, and hour of the day absolutely matters. It’s a disturbing and heart-wrenching reminder that this is how war actually feels. Not for the soldiers who fight it, but for those who have to live through the Hell, the ones that suffer the consequences more than the others.

This War of Mine: Stories – Father’s Promise
Platforms: Android, iOS, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch
Platform Reviewed: Android
Developer: 11 bit Studios
Publisher: 11 bit Studios
Release Date: Available Now
Cost: $1.99

For better, or for worse, This War of Mine: Stories – Father’s Promise, is an eye-opening reminder about the costs, the causalities of war are far greater than we’d ever imagined before. It’s a harrowing reminder that war is ugly and that will never change.


Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the publisher of the game. For information about our ethics policy please click here.


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About the Writer(s):

dustin_batgr_prof

Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.

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