Few developers understand the importance of their platform like 11 Bit Studios. Everything the developer does with This War of Mine is purposeful and designed to further its pursuit of a world where children never experience the horrors of war. A year after This War of Mine’s release in 2014, 11 Bit Studios partnered with War Child to raise £400,000 ($493,420) for anti-war efforts across the world. More recently, 11 Bit studios contributed to the outpour of support for Ukraine by donating all proceeds from This War of Mine to the Ukrainian Red Cross. By the end of their fundraiser, they donated $850,000.
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The driving force behind 11 Bit Studios and its work is plastered all across This War of Mine. Rather than taking control of soldiers or trained combatants, the player is cast as multiple civilians surviving a siege in the fictional city of Pogoren. With little combat experience on their side, they must scrape by until a ceasefire, avoiding starvation, inclement weather, and flying bullets until the bitter end.
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There is no central story in This War of Mine except for “there is a war in Pogoren.” What makes This War of Mine’s storytelling excel is its hands-off approach. Everything players learn about a character and the events of the war is entirely driven by their own decisions. Every person players encounter in the game is grappling with the war in their own way, and how players experience that reality is up to them. Worldbuilding comes from the radio, which provides status updates on the war over broadcast.
Without a central story, This War of Mine relies on characters to keep the player engaged. Controllable characters all have unique backstories that players discover naturally through gameplay. Players also learn a lot about characters’ morals based on how they respond (or don’t respond) to what other characters do while scavenging during the…