This War of Mine: The Littles Ones on PS4
When you think of a war game, you would probably be quick to imagine a first person shooter where you are the chosen soldier that annihilates the opposing forces single-handedly. This War of Mine: The Little Ones separates itself from this stereotype as a war game solely focused on the civilians inhabiting a war-torn country. There are no crosshairs, no health packs, no cover fire. There is simply a run-down shelter, your team of survivors, and a will to live.
This War of Mine: The Little Ones is best described as a management sim. It is your job to survive the harsh winter by scavenging (or stealing), trading (or killing), and building up your house into a home. Your survivors have needs that you can fulfill with whatever you choose to build with whatever little materials you manage to get. It’s not an easy, rainbow-filled street like The Sims, though. The cold threatens to make your people sick, raiders could attack every night, and while you’re out scavenging, you might meet some very terrible people that shoot first and ask questions later.
Therein lies the genius of This War of Mine: The Little Ones; you can shape the lives of these characters for however many days your playthrough runs. Want to make champion survivors? Be smart about it. Got an itch to be an evil group of raiders? Scavenge, loot, and kill wherever you go. Just want to see how broken you can make everyone? Stop taking care of them altogether. The game randomizes its difficulty and number of days until victory, or you can make your own custom story. Easy twenty day victory trophy for the win.
While This War of Mine has been on PC for awhile now, The Little Ones is its first foray into consoles. The biggest selling point are the children, hence “The Little Ones.” While meant to add more of an emotional level to the game, I’d argue that the kids are worthless and dumb. That’s right, I said it. They’re pretty useless and most of the time will just end up taking your food resources. They’re always getting sad about something and are just an extra mouth to feed. So it’s a bit disheartening that they’ve focused so much on them (even to the point of titling it after them), when you’ll likely find yourself opting for a play session that doesn’t include kids.
As This War of Mine enters the lives of console gamers, we should rejoice that this experience is allowed to reach an even greater audience. It’s a game with something to say while providing an emotional experience to the player. You’ll be surprised by how much you care that one of your survivors totally got shot down like a dog while scavenging. It’s a hard game to be heartless with because the developers did such a great job of really shoving their emotions down your throat. These people are not soldiers. Rather, they had normal lives suddenly stripped from them through circumstances out of their control. Knowing this, actively working to keep them alive, and listening to their inner thoughts each day all lend to the experience of what makes this more meaningful than any other random management sim.