In development at 11 Bit Studios, the team behind the Anomaly series, This War of Mine explicitly sets out of avoid the entertainment of firing a gun and scoring kills, Miechowski tells me. "This is a serious game. A mature game."
The game starts with your home, a building that has been ravaged by war. Buildings are presented from a 2D perspective looking into each room, as though an entire wall was removed from the structure – similar to the "Ant Farm" home base in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Once night falls, a map appears with locations to explore. Presented with the ability to explore, players assign tasks for their stable of survivors: Select one person to scavenge, set others to guard your base, or allow them to sleep. Survivors will grow tired, hungry, and cold throughout the game. It's up to the player to manage their health to ensure their survival because once a survivor is lost, they are gone forever.
"We made it just like real life. In war you don't come back. It's the same for this game."
When arriving at a building to explore, the innards are shrouded in a black fog, which dissipates as you investigate each room: a "fog of war" concept utilized in many strategy games. Players can simply rush inside the building through blown out openings or doors, but it's much safer to quietly make your way through the location. You can look through peepholes of closed doors to slowly reveal parts of the room beyond. You can search cabinets, piles of rubble, abandoned major appliances to collect food, scraps, building materials and weapons.
The purpose of not rushing a location is to ensure safety from anyone who may be found inside a building. Civilian response to your presence could be hostile, or they could be terrified. Rush in and they could immediately react with violence. Methodically approaching objectives is a smarter play, Miechowski says.
Visually, the teaser trailer for This War of Mine transitioned from soldiers of war, rendered in a slick modern engine before shifting to the cowering civilians presented in an illustrated charcoal line art graphic style. This War of Mine is presented exclusively in the gritty blacks and grays of animated charcoal art.
This War of Mine is early in development; so early that Miechowski says he doesn't want to show any in-game footage to the public yet. Whereas Papers, Please was a game about a bleak setting, it also captured attention for its poke at the absurdity of horrific situations. This War of Mine doesn't have a lighthearted approach; it doesn't have that element that tells the player "it's okay to enjoy this, despite its message." This War of Mine a game about being stuck in the middle of a war and war is hell.
11 Bit Studios plans to launch This War of Mine on PC and unspecified mobile devices later this year.