A new impactful story of survival builds on the base game’s subtle handling of the horrors of war. Read all about it in our This War of Mine The Last Broadcast review.
Though This War of Mine stands tall amongst its genre peers on the substantial merit of its robust survival mechanics alone, it’s arguably the very human stories, trials and tribulations that serve as the beating heart for what is ostensibly 11-Bit Studios magnum opus.
With a narrative scribed by Meg Jayanth, whose keen penship drove Inkle’s 80 Days globetrotting adventures to such superlative heights, the second Stories expansion The Last Broadcast deftly weaves a story that not only encapsulates the survivalist struggles of the base game, but also one that examines the value and role of truth in a time of war.
Immediately the setup for The Last Broadcast is interesting. Revolving around crippled radio operator Malik and his wife, Esma, the former struggles to impart life-saving wisdom to the survivors of the Grazni Civil War, while the latter ventures out into the outside world to scavenge for supplies and obtain the news that her husband so desperately needs to broadcast.
The news that you can broadcast can come from multiple sources too. Though mostly uncovered through Esma’s journey into the wider world, the visitors who knock on your door can also now be quizzed for the latest developments, with such news allowing you to do everything from taking advantage of supply and demand for certain resources in favorable trade negotiations, to providing ample notice regarding troop movements.
With the attainment of news comes the notion of responsibility – do you impart the news to Malik, allowing him to broadcast out this new information, or, do you withhold it? Depending on how you handle information, certain characters might react to you differently (or not appear at all), while the balance of your choices are brilliantly brought to bear in one of The Last Broadcast’s multiple endings.
The fact that The Last Broadcast begins with not just two survivors, but whereupon only one of them is able-bodied lends the proceedings quite the unexpected dynamic. As the sole scavenger in the group, the physical demands that are put onto Esma are far beyond that which would be normal.
As such, The Last Broadcast forces long-time This War of Mine players to think much differently than they otherwise would do. Because Esma is the only individual capable of scavenging, she cannot rest at home at night and so instead must catch up on her snoozes during the day – a problem which is compounded by the fact that if she indulges in any strenuous physical activity, as this makes her rest all the more important.
On the other side of the coin, Malik’s crippling disability is debilitating to that point that he can only roam around a single level in the house. Without the ability to move up or down floors, he must also be fed, treated and entertained by Esma – something which not only exacerbates the tremendous strain that already exists on her time.
Fortunately though, unlike the base game, The Last Broadcast begins with our survivors in a considerably large house that already has a lot of amenities, utilities, and loot to collect. Though this house also presents a unique challenge in the form of a rockfall which prevents immediate access to a pre-prepared herb garden; a conundrum that is soon remedied by fashioning a pickaxe to clear the way.
As a result, not only does the unique situation of Malik and Esma lend itself to refreshing play and a reorganization of the traditional This War of Mine mindset, but so too do the digs that couple inhabit present a meaningful challenge that deftly compliments what The Last Broadcast has wrought elsewhere in its design.
In addition to emphasizing the human element that has defined This War of Mine, The Last Broadcast also packs in a bunch of new base content. Certainly, the much larger scope when compared to the previous DLC, A Father’s Promise, makes The Last Broadcast feel like much more akin to a banquet, rather than the mouldering scraps one might expect to find in one of the game’s long-abandoned shelters.
Beyond the weight of The Last Broadcast’s narrative and the new features, Pogoren, the city that served as the backdrop to The Grazni Civil War in the base game, has also been enlarged with new locations to explore and a range of new characters to interact with. A tense cover to cover sprint through a park under the watchful eye of a sniper proves to be a particular highlight that doubles down on This War of Mine’s penchant for getting the blood pumping, as Esma puts her life on the line to scavenge both resources and news alike. Celebrating the fourth anniversary of This War of Mine with this expansion, 11-Bit Studios has managed to both properly honor the spirit of the base game, and meaningfully iterate upon it with this latest DLC offering. Emotionally resonant, oppressively grim and generously stuffed with emergent possibility and multiple endings, The Last Broadcast widens the scope of The Grazni Civil War and is essential for both owners of This War of Mine and fans of supremely well-written survival narratives.
Here’s hoping that the third, and as yet unannounced story expansion for This War of Mine follows much more rigidly in the footsteps of the game’s sophomoric DLC offering, rather than its inaugural venture into the Stories format.
This War of Mine The Last Broadcast review code provided by the publisher.
This War of Mine The Last Broadcast is available on PC from November 14.