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

App review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
This War of Mine: Stories - A Father's Promise App Poster Image
Heartbreaking chapter examines true cost of war.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Ease of Play

Controls are simple, but one wrong decision means death. 

Violence

No blood is shown during gameplay, but the main character can attack and kill anyone with melee weapons or guns. There are scenes of torture, kidnapping, and civilian massacre as well.

Sex
Language

Infrequent use of words like "bastard" and "f--k." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Main character can make and sell cigarettes, moonshine, and drugs. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that This War of Mine: Stories -- A Father's Promise is a simulation game for iOS and Android devices based on the Siege of Sarajevo. In it, players take on the role of a civilian father with a sick child trying to survive in a bombed-out city. The story features violence and shows torture, kidnapping, and civilian massacre. The main character can make and sell drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol and can attack (and kill) other civilians and steal their food and useful items. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

THIS WAR OF MINE: STORIES – A FATHER'S PROMISE is a simulation game where players find out what life is like for civilian war refugees. Players take on the role of a father trying to protect his young daughter while finding a way out of an active war zone. The game takes place over a day/night cycle; during the day, players use gathered materials to build defenses, tools, and furnishings, and at night go out scavenging for materials, medicine, and food. Staying home is dangerous since other desperate civilians could raid the place, and scavenging's dangerous because of other survivors and hostile soldiers. Players must use a combination of caution and stealth to avoid direct confrontation or alternately, make weapons and seek confrontation out. It's ultimately up to players to decide whether war brings out their humanity or their ruthlessness. 

Is it any good?

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. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about news stories about refugees. How do your kids feel about immigration and helping people fleeing violence? 

  • How would war affect your life if you lived with it every day? 

  • What things do we take for granted in peace time? How do our priorities change in times of war? 

App details

For kids who love adventures

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