Currently available through GoG for $19.99 (Oh the temptation!)
About: This War of Mine is the first game that lets you experience war not as a soldier, but as a group of civilians in a besieged city, struggling with a constant threat of disease, starvation and death, either from hardship, a sniper's bullet or at the hands of bandits. Do whatever it takes to survive - without destroying your souls, if possible.
The pace of the game is imposed by the day and night cycle. During the day snipers outside stop you from leaving your refuge, so you need to focus on maintaining your hideout: crafting, trading and taking care of survivors. At night, take one of your civilians on a mission to scavenge through a set of unique locations for items that will help you stay alive.
Experience war from a completely new angle: play as civilians trying to survive
Forge emotional bonds with your characters
Inspired by real events
The first review makes me think this is everything I've been looking for in game design.
The aim of the game is to get your group of civilians to survive through the war or if they all die the game will end. Each time you play the game you are assigned a random group of characters. Not only is this random but the length of the play-through is random, sometimes the war can last 30 days other times it can last months like in real life the length of a war is never certain. Both the location on the map and the things you find there are randomly generated too, which ensures replay-ability so each play-through you have will differ in some way.
I certainly feel that the games vision has been achieved. As a video game it hits all the right marks, solid mechanics, great art and sound but what tops it for me is the events and it's sandbox nature. Not only are you creating your own story as you go through but it's a deeply meaningful one. The game has both feel good experiences and experiences that make you sick to your stomach. Through the characters, events and game play a powerful message is sent to you as the player. I grew attached to every character I had in my party and the people I met. The whole game was a gripping experience that left me as a gamer wanting more but as a human being truly distraught at the realities of civilian life in a war torn city. For all these reasons and more This War Of Mine has easily become one of my favorite games of the year and is probably my indie game of the year by leaps and bounds. There is a lot of mature content in the game so it's certainly not for younger audiences but for everyone else I certainly would say to pick it up and experience it for yourself.
Video review here: