Parents' Guide to

This War of Mine: Stories - A Father's Promise

By Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Heartbreaking chapter examines true cost of war.

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Like the game it's based on, this simulation succeeds by truthfully examining the human cost of war. Focusing on one man grieving the loss of his wife and dreading the loss of his daughter, This War of Mine: Stories -- A Father's Promise gives players an experience that's as exhausting as it's heartbreaking. Of course, if you're looking for action-packed gameplay, you could be disappointed. Things move slowly here, as they do when society's mechanisms break down. Priorities and loyalties shift as resources dwindle, and survival becomes the equivalent of two full-time jobs: the night shift spent looking for food, medicine, and clean water, and the day shift spent trying to protect all you've gathered. Extreme circumstances drive people to extremes, and exploring new locations and meeting new people can be life-threatening. Strangers are as likely to shoot you as talk to you, so caution is key. And if that's not enough cause for fear and tension, your daughter's illness works like a ticking clock, forcing you to take greater risks and do morally questionable things in order to save her. And things get more and more challenging as time goes on.

The hungrier, sadder, and more tired you get (or if you pick up an illness or a wound) means scavenging gets tougher and ultimately grinds to a snail's pace. This slow pace can be a frustrating aspect of the game, especially if you have to wait while the wounded main character drags himself around the environment, or god forbid, dies. (There's no tutorial, so if this is your first taste of This War of Mine, you could die and start over a lot.) On top of that, this particular story has an ending that's emotionally hard to swallow, and seemingly unavoidable. Even so, This War of Mine: Stories – A Father's Promise succeeds by delivering the same kind of complexity and moral punch the base game does, and offering the same valuable commentary on the horrors of war.

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