A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Kids can learn how complicated and hazardous war can be, how difficult it can be to survive in a war zone. Instead of soldiers or generals, player controls cooks, athletes, parents, and children. Gameplay is a matter of striking a careful, often dangerous, balance -- e.g., between safety and security at your wrecked home versus exploration of the surroundings for necessities to keep you and your group alive and healthy. Decide whether you can leave an item behind with hope that you can return at a later time, or barter for something similar from a merchant. The emotional well-being of your characters is as vital as the gear you acquire on scavenging missions. By pulling scenarios from actual survivors of war and by grounding the experience in the unfortunate reality of war raging once again in Eastern Europe, the game forces players to reexamine conflict's cost and consequences.
Perseverance through extreme and dire situations is a significant message, as is a focus on being empathetic and caring toward others in your shelter. Teamwork is constantly emphasized as a method to help everyone survive, as a way to provide resources to the group. Characters have to act courageously against dangerous odds, often putting themselves in harm's way to acquire goods or to help others. Compassion for others and for the extreme circumstances is a message that constantly arises, especially because these aren't people trained for warfare; they're everyday people.
Positive Role Models
Players can control a range of characters, each with their own skills (or lack of skills) for surviving the situation. Characters demonstrate a range of emotions when it comes to theft or murder of enemies to survive missions, but most will be affected by the weight of their actions over time or by the seeming helplessness of the war if their spirits aren't tended to. Every character doesn't want to do bad things, but realizes that they must in order to survive. They do experience joy when they're able to help others, despair when things go wrong or people are lost.
While all of the characters hail from the same fictional Eastern European country, they range in age from young children to older adults, with a mix of male and female characters in different professions. A newly included character is pregnant. Some other characters are people with disabilities.
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Ease of Play
No tutorial, so lots of figuring out how to control multiple characters at once and how to effectively get your characters to work together. High level of difficulty in keeping your characters alive can easily frustrate players as well. That being said, it's easy to figure out how to control characters with a few minutes of play, and interacting with objects or hazards can be easy or hard depending on tools available and a character's skill with them.
Violence & Scariness
Players can use knives, axes, guns, or fists to eliminate enemies in battle. The characters using these weapons aren't particularly skilled at them, so they'll frequently miss unless they ambush an enemy from the shadows. But there's little blood shown, and bodies disappear between stages. Players can engage in firefights. Sequences where they can be shot by snipers. Visual style limits the impact of the violence.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
No activity shown, but players can potentially head to a brothel and discover sex workers that are being held prisoner by soldiers.
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Profanity occasionally used in dialogue between characters, with "f--k," "s--t," and "a--hole" used in conversation. "F--k this war" is spray-painted on a wall outside of a house.
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Products & Purchases
This 2022 release version of This War of Mine packs in previously released downloadable content and maps. A separate map pack can be purchased for players to upgrade previous versions to this title.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters frequently talk about smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. Players can find these items during scavenging trips or can make them from raw ingredients. These can also be traded with merchants for necessary gear.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that This War of Mine: Final Cut is a downloadable strategy simulation game for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows PCs. The story puts players in control of a number of civilians caught in the midst of a war zone, trying their best to survive against seemingly impossible odds. Characters demonstrate perseverance in their survival, courage in their exploration of hazardous situations, and teamwork as they assist the people in their hideout and neighbors that need help. Additionally, these characters have to show compassion and empathy for others to stay motivated to keep going from one day to the next while suffering through some monumental bouts of depression and despair. Players will have the option to use guns, knives, axes, and fists to eliminate enemies. While there's no blood that's shown, the characters aren't soldiers, so they'll potentially be injured unless they ambush an opponent. Little blood is shown and bodies disappear over time, but the visual style limits the impact of the violence. Profanity occasionally pops up in dialogue, with "f--k" and "s--t" popping up in comments. Characters frequently talk about smoking cigarettes and drinking, and players can make these items from raw materials to use or trade for additional items. While no sex or nudity is shown, players can discover sex workers that are held hostage in a brothel. This is also a challenging title that, while easy to control, is difficult because there's no tutorial, so you'll learn via trial and error. That could frustrate some players who have to struggle their way through sessions that are randomly created: Some rounds are easy to play through while others are exceedingly difficult to gain a foothold in.
Is It Any Good?
The original game was a gripping tale, but the remastered edition analyzes the toll of warfare so well that it's a must-play for all gamers. This War of Mine: Final Cut is more than a simple visual upgrade or marketing spin on some play enhancements. It packs in all of the downloadable content, which forces players to look at the extreme circumstances of Pogoren's war through different eyes. It's difficult and infuriating to see kids trapped in these dire straits, locked indoors for their safety because the war is raging around them. It's a tragedy that they're subjected to these circumstances instead of having a chance to grow up. Similarly, it's just as difficult to watch Livia, the new character, process her grief as a widow while at the same time trying to push on because she's expecting a baby. Past these characters and the heavy weight their shoulders are forced to carry, Final Cut brings the other DLC in as the Stories mode, self-contained short stories about a man's struggle to save his daughter, a radio operator's challenge to keep his listeners informed about what's going on in the city, or the preservation of cultural and religious artifacts during conflict. These are heartbreaking tales that have shocking, often painful twists, ones that will remain with the player for a while after they finish each tale.
In many ways, the Stories mode highlights a larger truth about the game itself: No one in the midst of war escapes unscathed. Do you share your medicine with your neighbors, even if it means that you might get sick and die at a later time? If you have to steal food to feed the people in your shelter, can you get over the moral anguish and depression of having to perform that deed? These questions don't have right or wrong answers, which increases the tension that you're under to hope that the choice you make works for those characters at that moment. Since Final Cut still doesn't include a tutorial to tell you what to do or how to best get started, you could be easily frustrated or lost in how to give your characters a chance to survive without a lot of trial and error. But it's worth fighting through this issue and this challenge; besides, there are people going through this in real war zones, trying to figure out how to survive with real life-or-death decisions, without a save file or restart available to them. The fact that Final Cut is being released in 2022, as Eastern Europe is being gripped by war once again, makes it only more pressing that gamers check out This War of Mine: Final Cut. It reminds us that war isn't glamorous or something to eagerly engage in. It's the breakdown of civility between groups or nations, and often it's the average citizen who pays the price.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.