Rarely a mobile game is even a bit intriguing, most of them plagued by in-app purchases, loot-boxes, free daily loots and most hideous of it all – obnoxious and invasive ads. Very few have single-player campaigns with an actual story and searching for them is akin to finding needles in a haystack. But when you find one, you get hooked instantly and your phone becomes ‘unputdownable’. This War of Mine is one such game.
But I won’t be talking about the base game here, I’ll be talking about the standalone DLC – This War of Mine Stories, especially Father’s Promise, which is the first episode in a series of three-part episodes.
Narrative, Visuals, and Sound
Father’s Promise tells a harrowing tale of a father named Adam who had lost his wife to hunger-caused sickness – ravages of World War II – and is now left with his ‘munchkin’ daughter Amelia who, much to his grief, is suffering from the same sickness. He has to quickly find medicines for her, save Amelia at all costs, despite his estranged brother’s nagging that they ought to use her as a ticket to escape the city via the humanitarian corridor recently opened for the sick and young. But Adam remains adamant, arguing that he won’t be risking Amelia’s life who is already in desperate need of medical attention, and that is where his life begins spiraling into utter chaos that makes him the question is very morals.
Just like This War of Mine, the devs go no holds barred on this one, thrusting a full emotional lance at your chest from your mobile’s screen with a tear-jerking twist at the end. Inspired by the acts of actual war-inflicted people in besieged cities of Poland, 11 Bit Studios brings forth a depressing and disturbing narrative that focuses on the strong relationship between a father and his little daughter who is sick, traumatized and her only responses are in the form of nods. Superior dialogue delivery that will make you empathize with Adam, followed by a soundtrack that echoes loneliness, desperation, and desolation, and coupled with staccato sounds of rifle fire and mortar shelling, Father’s Promise will constantly make you feel how vulnerable your character is out there, whose apartment has already been bombed by stray mortars because of which he and his daughter have taken shelter in the adjacent apartment. The environment with its mind-blowing pencil-shaded detailing just shows the intricate work that has undergone into re-enacting the events of recent history; if you swipe up till you no more could, you’ll see smokes billowing out of the ruined apartments and streaks of bullets lighting up the horizon. Debris strewn around the streets and whole surroundings coated in a gloomy monochrome palette make in for a bleak situation in which there is little to no hope of making through. All in all, Father’s Promise is one, a big emotional package that will convince you to keep playing till the end.
Gameplay and Mechanics
On the surface, Father’s Promise is management, crafting and survival game as you spend your time scouring ramshackle buildings for food and resources and trading them with whoever knocks at your door. But the twist is you need to look out for your bedridden daughter as well, splitting time between your rummaging and taking care of her, making sure she doesn’t go to sleep with an empty stomach even if it means you going hungry and sleep-deprived. Anyways, the description of Adam says that he’s a skilled survivor, so maybe you could manage a few days without eating a loaf or hitting the mattress. Your backpack has limited space so you have to decide what essentials you need to carry and what you need to keep at home whenever you are supposed to leave your shelter, which is scripted since the narrative is extremely linear.
Although you get to interact with the NPCs you’ve got no choice over the dialogues, forcing you to keep skipping the dialogue bubbles manually if you’ve read the sentences faster than the characters could deliver. Father’s Promise introduces a new mechanism of searching for clues other than scavenging but it is only there to satiate the scripted scenes of the narrative, and this makes the crafting mechanism a tad useless since the game doesn’t give you any scope of thinking about long-term measures to survive. The days end quickly and yet consist of moments where the story just stalls allowing you to pillage your own apartment, basically to make you feel the progression of events in real time. Nevertheless, the episode is quite small and you could end it well in say, 3 hours.
The difficulty has been dumbed down from the original This War of Mine in lieu of the narrative, and this makes Father’s Promise a trial version of This War of Mine allowing you to experience first-hand survival tactics in times of war because in the base game you have to control not one but a group of survivors and have to watch each character’s psyche. But here, the controls couldn’t be any simpler, with points of interest being highlighted and all you have to do is tap (walk) or double-tap (run) on the room you want to go to and tap the icons to interact with the environment. There’s also a radio which sometimes acts as a plot element but otherwise can be interacted with if you want information about the scene outside.
You have the option to end the day as per your convenience or let the game’s clock tail its normal flow, following which you’re supposed to decide whether you want to rest or stand guard. Standing guard will take a toll on Adam’s exhaustion levels and will make him more depressed than he already is affecting his natural movements. This might be a little frustrating when you have to run from a room at one end of the building to the other but this little nudge is there to showcase the looming threat hanging over his head that something bad is about to happen. He and all the other NPCs are shown minuscule compared to the environment which gives away his incapacity against the enormous odds stacked against him in the light of the events happening around him. As Adam staggers his way through the highly scripted sequences, both he and you will realize that Father’s Promise might as well have been a Telltale Game… but that company’s closed and I won’t talk about it here (sad).
[signoff icon=”icon-info-circled”]Move away Call of Duty where you blast your ways through hordes of angry Germans or stoic Russians. If you want to experience what was it like for an average Joe in times of war, then I strongly recommend playing this game. It’s not your average survival game either, it’s an emotional roller-coaster ride that ends with…..I won’t be giving any spoilers here. You just need to play it ASAP! The game is available at a really cheap price on play store.[/signoff]