This War of Mine is a game about war, but it takes a different angle than most games—how would you survive behind the scenes as a civilian in a warzone? What lines would you be willing to cross to keep a family member alive? Polish developer 11 bit studios has moved on to create This War of Mine: The Little Ones, this time telling the story of the children caught in the crossfire.
Senior writer Pawel Miechowski is serious about this story. At 11 bit sudios they weren’t sure at first whether they wanted to try something so difficult and whether people would want to play it. But the reception to This War of Mine was so powerful they decided to continue the vision with This War of Mine: The Little Ones.
“The Little Ones puts you in charge of a group of adults and children stuck in the middle of hell, trying to survive in a besieged city; struggling with lack of food, medicine and constant danger. The question is: how far will you go to make it through another day? This experience focuses not only on the reality of enduring war, but also the fact that even in times of conflict, kids are still kids—they laugh, cry, play with toys, and see the world differently. In addition to thinking about survival, you’ll have to bring back the kid in yourself to understand how to protect the little ones,” says Miechowski.
It’s also a very personal game for the creators; last year Polygon spoke with design director Michal Drozdowski and art director Przemyslaw Marszal right about the time that Russia formally annexed part of Ukraine. “You don’t believe that your world is going to change,” he told Polygon. “When you read about the Second World War, they had exactly that same feeling: War is not going to happen. It came anyway.”
Marszal reportedly thought about photographing his own sons—ages 7 and 2—to be characters in the game, but in the end he couldn’t do it, “because I know that in our game characters can die. And I do not want my sons to be there. Because I really think it could happen.”
This War of Mine: The Little Ones will likely not be a happy, enjoyable experience, but in a gaming landscape that often sees only the heroic escapades of war, it may be important to show the flip side. The game is scheduled for release on PlayStation 4 on January 26, 2016.