This War of Mine: Stories - Father's Promise (PC) Review

By Chris Leebody 15.11.2017

Review for This War of Mine: Stories - Father

This War of Mine burst onto the scene back in 2014 and immediately became a critical hit on Steam. Displaying a new brutal vision of war, it put the spotlight on freeform and procedural survival, with a group of civilians caught up in the siege of a fictional Eastern European city. As Cubed3 discovered, there was a compelling tale to tell through the simple actions of desperate survival, and the strategy on offer allowed this modestly-priced title a lot of replayability. Thankfully, 11 bit studios has decided the time is right to surprise the fan base with an unannounced DLC, namely Stories: Father's Promise, which promises to add a new narrative base to the existing survival gameplay based on an award-winning Polish audio-drama by Lukasz Orbitowski.

Stories: Father's Promise acts as an episodic add-on, and the plans for future development seem to focus on delivering three bespoke tales of survival in this harsh and broken city.

The main gameplay mechanics are pretty much like for like from the original release, and the compelling strategic gameplay remains, focusing on battling hunger, trading resources with merchants to build improvements to the shelter, and savaging during the night using stealth or force on the dangerous inhabitants.

Screenshot for This War of Mine: Stories - Father's Promise on PC

One observation from the 2014 release was that there was a lack of narrative structure to the playthrough, with it very much being a free-form sandbox. This worked, of course, perfectly well and sometimes the greatest stories in gaming are the ones generated by the player themselves. However, there is also room for developer creativity and this is what Stories seeks to deliver.

Mostly, this is delivered well. The idea of picking one or two "hidden heroes" within the chaos emphasises the struggle within the desolate landscape and heightens the raw emotion of suffering caused by warfare.

The hero in the introductory chapter Father's Promise instance is Adam, who is trying to protect his daughter Amelia. When the adventure kicks off, Amelia is already in a bad state and Adam's wife has already been victim of the savagery. Things soon escalate, with Adam forced into a desperate hunt to save her.

Screenshot for This War of Mine: Stories - Father's Promise on PC

Adam is immediately a very relatable character, and one only has to take a brief glance at the modern world to capture the suffering of everyday humans caught up in conflict. It is apparent that the writing and dialogue comes from an established writer and it does not fall into cliché or superficial emotions.

Impressively, although the story of a father trying to save his daughter is a well-worn trope of many survival tales, here it works very well, with the narrative being used to push the story forward with steady momentum. Where the base survival mode of the original could get bogged down, there is always the push of constant movement, with scavenging at night in order to obtain the clues as to Amelia's location.

Screenshot for This War of Mine: Stories - Father's Promise on PC

None of the challenge has been lost in Father's Promise, and, in fact, due to the nature of the push to keep moving forward, the pressure seems to intensify as each day draws in. The onset of winter and the increasingly scant food supplies and fuel mean that Adam tends to get sicker and hungrier all the quicker.

Then thrown into the mix are the roving bandits that make the little key decisions such as scavenging and making the shelter vulnerable - or staying in bed to battle exhaustion, but losing out on valuable supplies - all the more nerve-wracking.

Screenshot for This War of Mine: Stories - Father's Promise on PC

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

For the very modest price of this first chapter of the Stories DLC, it is hard to criticise. Starting at $1.99, or the season pass for $4.99, there is plenty of content here to entice fans who may have set This War of Mine down to pick it back up again. Hopefully, the rest of the stories match up to the quality on show here in terms of the narrative of the protagonist, Adam, and his journey to save his daughter and escape the besieged city. The same compelling gameplay, graphics and sound from back in 2014 remain, and placed on top is the forward momentum that a story brings.

Developer

11 Bit Studios

Publisher

11 Bit Studios

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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