Bleak but beautiful survival game This War of Mine makes no illusions about its content. The opening screens feature the famous Hemingway quote, "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason" and the experience certainly reflects that. This is not a game with an easy formula for success, as the actions you take to nullify one threat can leave you vulnerable to the next. You'll need to understand how each threat works if you're going to last even two weeks of the war.
Here are five This War Of Mine features that could lead to your death:
#5 - Starvation
The most immediate threat to your band of survivors is a lack of food. You'll find a few scraps in your home base, but those won't last more than a few days, regardless of how many mouths you have to feed. While it can take about nine days for a survivor to completely starve, you'd do well not to let it get that far. The hungrier your survivors get, the more prone they are to depression, and the longer sickness and wounds take to heal. In this way, hunger can be an indirect cause of death--exacerbating other conditions to the point of no return.
To keep their bellies full (or at least, slightly less empty), your survivors will have to trade, scavenge or steal from the surrounding neighbourhood. Most of the food you find will be raw, which doesn't make for a very filling meal. With a stove, water and fuel you can make raw food twice as nourishing, and adding vegetables will turn a single meal into two, making the raw food go further. Canned food is a rare treat, jealously guarded by well-armed scavengers and soldiers alike, and a godsend when cooking supplies run dry.
Fortunately, you aren't completely at the mercy of the neighbourhood. As you develop your home base, you can make rat traps to provide raw food, and upgrade a herb garden to grow your own vegetables--if you can afford the water, fertiliser and time costs, of course. Your dwelling will never be fully self-sufficient, but every bit helps. Food fetches a high price with traders, but you don't want to risk going hungry unless there's something more pressing than starvation on the horizon.
#4 - Wounds
For everything you have, there's someone willing to take it. Raiders won't go out during the day because of snipers, but once darkness descends, you might find yourself with a fight on your hands. These are automated off-screen, disappointingly, making every return from a scavenging run a tense moment as you wait to see if the house has been raided in your absence. If you have enough guards, barricades and weapons, the raiders will be sent packing in short order. If your defenses are lacking, however, they might make off with some of your best supplies, and leave one or more of your survivors wounded.
A basic wound can heal with time and bed rest, but anything more severe will need bandages--and fast. Left untreated, a wound will worsen over several days, slowing the survivor's movement until they can barely move, before they finally bleed out. If you can't find or steal any out in the city, you can craft your own bandages at a herbal workshop if you've got herbs, components and alcohol. Even better, if you find the half-collapsed but still-running hospital, the kind doctors will patch you up for free and pay handsomely for any bandages or other meds you bring them. However, given that night-time raids will interrupt a bandaged survivor's healing--effectively wasting the bandage--you never know quite how many you're going to need.
#3 - Sickness
A common cold might not seem too deadly, but when deprived of regular food, heating and medicine, you'd be surprised how quickly it can sink its hooks into you. As with wounds, a slight sickness can usually be healed with bed rest and a hot meal, but anything more severe will probably need medicine. Like bandages, you can make some basic remedies with herbs and alcohol, but the more advanced (and reliable) meds can only be crafted with an upgraded herbal workshop and ingredients that are as rare to scavenge as the meds themselves.
In the warmer months, it can be easy to dismiss sickness as a minor threat, but once the snow starts to fall you need to keep a fire burning at all times if you don't want to be fighting a fistful of infections. Crafting a hatchet will allow you to hack up furniture for firewood, but even so you might find yourself having to choose between food and warmth. Fortunately, sickness doesn't seem to be contagious, so you should only have to deal with one or two of them at a time--on top of all the other threats out there, of course.
#2 - Combat
The very first death you experience in This War of Mine will probably be a result of picking a fight with someone far better armed than you. Unlike the slow death of a terminal wound, deaths in combat are swift, brutal, and often seem to come out of nowhere. As your survivors are only civilians, fighting is generally best avoided altogether; all it takes is a well-placed shotgun blast to turn your survivor from feeling fine to fertiliser. But if violence is your game, you'll need to make use of various weapons--both traditional such as pistols and rifles, and improvised such as shovels and crowbars.
If you make it through a fight, any health lost will be reflected in the severity of the wound. Some enemies--the ones just trying to protect their squats against thieves like you--will stop just short of killing you outright, allowing you to limp away to bleed out in the comfort of your own home. But most of the time you'll be crossing kitchen knives with thugs, rebels and soldiers, none of whom will show you even a sliver of mercy. In these situations, stealth is invaluable; sneaking into a gang hideout or army outpost and systematically back-stabbing every one of the guards is both thrilling and immensely rewarding, but all too often ends with an AK round in the back.
#1 - Depression
On top of everything else, you'll need to manage your survivors' moods. These can be a real wild card for your survivors, throwing a wrench in the works when everything seems to be going fine. For example, unhappy characters can get in fights with other survivors, causing wounds, or keep everyone awake at night with arguments or inconsolable sobbing. As with most status effects, the basic Sad state isn't too much to worry about, but once it progresses to Depressed, your survivor will definitely need a pick-me-up.
Mercifully, you have a few options for keeping things from getting too bleak. Eating every day--while expensive--will provide a massive boost to morale. Smokers and coffee drinkers can boost their mood with a taste of their respective vices, but going without them for too long seems to have the opposite effect. And of course, if you've got some spare alcohol lying around, that can take a depressed survivor's mind of their troubles--at the expense of turning them into a stumbling, incoherent drunk for the rest of the day. Helping out others in need is a great way to make everyone feel better, though the cost may not be worth it. Lastly, providing creature comforts such as armchairs, books and music help keep spirits up.
Refusing to lend aid to neighbours, stealing from the innocent and killing anyone other than a soldier, rebel or thug all give big hits to your survivors' morale, the specific amounts varying depending on their individual personalities and priorities. Depression can also be triggered by other states; ongoing hunger, wounds and sickness all make survivors doubt they'll make it through, even when it's another survivor who's suffering. Having a survivor die hits everyone hard, and if times were already tough, this can render one or more of your survivors catatonic, having to be completely tended to by the others. Even this isn't the worst of it--when they can suffer no more, your survivors will either leave, become hostile or commit suicide.