11 bit studios, the creators of the atmospheric survival game, This War of Mine, has released more content for the game in the form of three episodic stories. This DLC includes three short narrative heavy episodes, Father’s Promise is the first episode with the other two to be released next year.
For those who haven’t played This War of Mine, it’s a management, survival game that has you play as a group of civilians trying to survive the horrors of war. Gameplay involves you scavenging for food, medicine, supplies and trying to stay out of danger of hostile groups, snipers or soldiers. It’s a harrowing experience, a perspective of war that videogames rarely explore. 11 bit studios have previously released new content for the game, including The Little Ones DLC which places children into the game (if you didn’t think the game could get any more harrowing) and has also released other downloadable content with new characters and areas to explore.
With the Father’s Promise DLC, the studio has taken a new direction with what they want the player to experience. With every release of new content, 11 bit studios want to create new experiences and truths of war whilst always being respectful and empathetic of the horrors of war so it’s interesting to see what direction they have taken with these new episodic stories.
Father’s Promise has you playing as Adam, a single parent who is trying to look after his severely ill daughter Amelia. When you begin the game, the two have just moved into their shelter and with Amelia being sick you play as only Adam as you begin to scavenge and search for supplies. In the first couple of days, you hear a rumor of a Humanitarian Corridor – a system in place that provides aid and shelter to those with children. Without giving too much away, Adam passes out one night from sleep deprivation and finds that Amelia has been kidnapped to be used as a way to escape the war zone. As Adam, you find Amelia and try not to starve or get killed in the process.
It’s a disturbing and frightening story, This War of Mine has never pulled back the punches with its narratives. It’s a game that tells the truths of what people will do to survive in times of war and this story really does capture the desperation that people will sink to. I think the story of Father’s Promise is important, I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it but it was a well-told story of another complex issue of war that I hadn’t thought about before.
The way that Father’s Story begins implies that it’s going to be challenging. You start with one person who needs to find food and medicine for not only himself but his child, he can’t leave her on her own so he needs to stay in the shelter AND he is on the edge of depression – the bar has been set high. But in terms of difficulty, the game almost sidelines its gameplay to tell its story.
The episode is quite short, meaning that you don’t need to prepare a long-term plan so crafting isn’t essential. In the main game, if you left your shelter with no one to guard it you would get severely looted but in Father’s Promise, this isn’t an issue leaving you to take care of Adam quite easily. This story is also very forgiving in that if you get Adam killed you have the option of starting from the night before. I wish they had integrated the tough gameplay a little more into the story since the hard decisions and challenges of the main game are part of its message.
The DLC does include some new mechanics that involve searching for clues and questioning NPCs to try and find Amelia but there isn’t anything new that directly involves the player’s decisions. I think including more player decisions like this would have prompted a more intimate emotional response.
Overall, I think Father’s Story is definitely worth playing and is a great bit of DLC. Even though it sidelines difficult decision-making it tells a heartbreaking story of love and sacrifice, with a gut-punch of an ending. The stories that This War of Mine tells are incredibly truthful and thought-provoking and I’m looking forward to the other two stories to be released.
|+ Emotional story||– Not many player choices or decisions|
|+ Thought-provoking and a new perspective on war||– Not as challenging as the main game|
|+ New mechanics – looking for clues and questioning NPCs|