This War of Mine: The Little Ones Focuses on Survival and Loss in a Time of War

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11 bit Studios and Deep Silver have brought an entirely new kind of war game to Xbox One. This War of Mine: The Little Ones isn’t a gun-toting action experience; it’s an emotional, people-focused title that tests your ability to survive in a deadly, unforgiving city.

This War of Mine: The Little Ones is an expanded version of the 2014 PC game, This War of Mine. It focuses on a group of civilians in a besieged city, who have to carefully manage resources and make tough calls in order to survive. It’s a heavy, emotional game that constantly reminds you that in war, sometimes people die for no good reason.

The Little Ones adds an extra element to the world: It introduces children into the mix, which raises the stakes a lot higher and adds new challenges to the game. It’s your job to protect the children, sometimes at the cost of other survivors.

Each game session in The Little Ones is random, and your success depends on how well you can adapt. You may find yourself with access to water or food… or those much-needed resources may be something you have to fight for every day. Gameplay revolves around the city’s day/night cycle. During the day, snipers prevent you form exiting your shelter, so you’ll spend the day working with your group, crafting new supplies, and taking stock of your resources.

When night falls, the survivors must take new roles. Who gets to sleep? Who has to keep watch in case someone attacks the shelter? And who is going to venture outside to scavenge and barter for more supplies?

Gathering supplies is the most dangerous aspect of This War of Mine. Roaming soldiers and other civilians could very well shoot you on sight, so stealth is often key. There’s no way to tell whether someone might be friendly and willing to trade, or try to attack you instead. The paranoia and xenophobia that comes with survival situations is a major element in your day-to-day experiences in this game.

On top of the daunting challenge of surviving, The Little Ones tasks you with protecting, and reassuring the children in your shelter. Some are relatives, while others orphans you’ve taken in – but they all need help. Despite your dire situation, the children in The Little Ones still laugh, play, and imagine. Toys are a commodity and resource, in the same way as bandages and cigarettes.

What makes The Little Ones often so heartbreaking is that there are often times where all of your choices seem wrong. Survivors can slip into depression, or break down physically and mentally. Concepts like guilt and regret affect everyone in the shelter. As resource management goes, there is never enough of anything to go around – and no matter how well you play, casualties are inevitable.

This War of Mine: The Little Ones is certainly a different experience than other games about war. It’s a mature, thought-provoking look into what happens to the everyday people who live in a war-torn country. The Little Ones is now available on Xbox One, and you should absolutely play it.