A minor problem
For those of you not familiar with This War Of Mine, here’s an introductory primer: it’s a war game, but not as we know it. Rather than intense combat or leading an army to glorious victory, players instead take on the role of a group of civilians trying their best to survive in a war-torn city. It’s a strategic affair that’s a frank and brutal look at the toll war takes on the lives of non-combatants, who are often among the highest casualties of such conflicts.
Through the grim and dark days of the war, you’ll need to gather supplies, build devices and tend to the emotional as well as physical well-being of the people under your control. Eventually either a cease-fire will be declared or your characters will succumb to the horrors of war, the latter of which being a far more likely outcome. If you think that sounds depressing, that’s because it is, and this DLC aims to up the ante by introducing children into the original game’s fantastic, somber mix. The DLC was packaged with the full game and released on XBox One and PlayStation 4 in January this year and now it’s available to purchase on Steam.
Children add a new dimension to the game because of their unique needs. Unable to fully grasp the consequences of war, their state of mind is particularly fragile. This adds a whole new, even grimmer touch to an already morbid game, because you don’t want to be a contributing factor to a child’s loss of innocence.
Paradoxically, having a child in your ruined shelter adds a bit of liveliness to the place, as playfulness and singing are juxtaposed to the dire situations of sickness and imminent death. In addition, players can train them to tend to various mundane tasks, though they’re excluded from joining you in the requisite raids. Still, having extra hands to help with cooking and setting traps does help, as does the effect kids have on the moods of the fellow survivors.
Though having one adult to care for them at any given time adds an extra burden to players, it is negated by one flaw: children aren’t able to die. Though perhaps giving death to children is controversial, it sort of neuters the sense of urgency that the original game was able to instill so masterfully. There just isn’t an incentive to add kids if they’re simply going to be rescued regardless of your successes or failures.
Beyond the addition of children and an arguably inclined difficultly, there is not much else on offer here. There are no new locations, no new shelters and no new scenarios; seeing the war from the perspective of a different culture as well as from the eyes of little children would have gone a long way towards making the game even more impacting.
As it stands, The Little Ones is an intriguing and disturbing addition to an already emotionally-taxing game, but the extras on offer might be a bit slim for players who have already played the title and the lack of serious consequences for your children feels a bit cheap. It’s a good reason to have another playthrough, but those expecting a radically different experience should think twice before parting with their cash. Grab it on its official Steam page here.
Final Verdict: 3/5
Available on: PC (reviewed), Xbox One and PlayStation 4. ; Publisher: 11 bit studios ; Developer: 11 bit studios ; Players: 1 ; Released: 1st of June 2016
Full disclosure: This review is based on a Steam review code provided by the publisher.