"In modern war… you will die like a dog for no good reason." This famous quote from Ernest Hemingway quote is shown right at the start of This War Of Mine: Stories. This is a necessary reminder of the cruelty of war, where even the innocent will perish. And that is exactly what you’re about to get yourself into.
For its first episode, Stories tells the, well, story, of Adam and his daughter Amelia. In the beginning, the war acts as a setting to a familial drama, but it soon becomes a part of your family issues. You have one goal: ensure the safety of your daughter. However, along the way, you won’t be able to trust anyone, not even your own brother.
For those who don’t know, This War Of Mine puts players in the role of normal citizens living in a city ravaged by war. There are different scenarios, each with its own plot and characters, but sometimes they do overlap. Your task is to keep all of your characters healthy, well-fed, well-rested, emotionally stable, and just in general, alive.
As you progress, you can craft items and build workstations, which in turn unlock more items. When the night comes, you can either choose to go outside to scavenge goods or stay home to guard your house against others who might want to break in to steal. All of this is for one single purpose: survive until the end of the war. When that will be depends on the scenario that you’re in, but sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to reach that point.
The pace of This War Of Mine: Stories – Father’s Promise appears to be faster than that of This War Of Mine, where you gather pieces after pieces of information as you play through the scenarios and eventually understand the relationship between various people. Stories, meanwhile, focuses on just Adam and Amelia. Adam’s wife died, and Amelia is so overwhelmed by grief to the point where she won’t even speak. It is depressing right off the bat and only gets worse over time.
A gameplay footage
As you might imagine, having to do everything by yourself and taking care of your grief-stricken daughter at the same time is exhausting, both physically and mentally. All the while, the sounds of gunshots and blasts are ever present, reminding you that Adam and Amelia are constantly in mortal danger, every second, every minute, every hour. There will be times when you have a long period of waiting during your gameplay, such as when Adam sleeps. It’s best that you spend these moments to plan on what to do next.
Days can slip past with you feeling like you have made no progress at all, yet there’s more to add to your already overflown pile of worries. The weather will only get colder, your little daughter is already very weak, and so you must stay around at all time to protect and take care of her, meaning you can’t go outside to find resources. Everything is there to make you feel exactly what Adam would be feeling in that situation: A feeling of helplessness at knowing that something terrible is coming, yet unable to do anything about it.
Reading to this point, you might think that This War Of Mine: Stories – Father’s Promise is not a good game. There are long waiting periods, anxiety, and things going downhill. All of these might all be negative, but Stories somehow manages to combine them perfectly to create a gut-wrenching, emotional, and hauntingly beautiful game.
It tells the story of the war from a different perspective: War is not always about soldiers shedding blood on the battlefield, it also has a terrible impact on normal citizens who are caught between the conflicts. Father’s Promise is a worthy addition to This War Of Mine. Be prepared to shed some tears.