Fireflies: This War Of Mine – The Little Ones

This War of Mine’s [official site] take on resource gathering and survival leans heavily on its setting – a besieged city caught up in the horrors of a modern war – and The Little Ones expansion, now available on PC, Mac and Linux, turns the screw by adding new playable characters and NPCs. They’re the titular little ones. Children. You might start the game as a parent, or find children hiding from danger, alone, or have them approach your shelter looking for safety and security. Once you’ve taken them in, you’ll not only have to protect them from harm, you’ll have to make an effort to understand the world through their eyes.

The Little Ones is currently £6.29 on Steam, with a 10% launch discount, having previously been part of the game’s initial console release. Judging by Eurogamer’s review of the console version, it manages to do precisely what I’d hoped – making children a burden in pragmatic terms but ensuring they’re seen as precious regardless.

The child influences everything. I don’t send the father on exploratory scavenging missions, despite him being able to carry more than the others, because if he dies then we have an orphan. She becomes the justification for stealing, the justification for putting another log on the fire. She is the rallying point of the shelter, a reason for the adults to keep going – a role children often take in times of hardship. She glues everyone together.

I adopted a dog last week and I don’t like leaving him on his own when I go out scavenging to the pet aisle at the local supermarket for food. The Little Ones would not do well under my guidance, I fear.

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10 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    keefybabe says:

    OH GOD AS IF THIS WASN’T MISERABLE ENOUGH!

    • Arexis says:

      So much this.
      This was already one of the most wonderfully depressing gaming experiences available.
      WHY WOULD YOU MAKE IT WORSE?!

      • Premium User Badge

        cpt_freakout says:

        Well, precisely because it’s wonderfully depressing?

  2. PsychoWedge says:

    I’m confused. I thought this was released months ago? I distinctively remember listening to a podcast about The Little Ones and how the expansion rather stupidly destroys the flow, coherence and inner logic of the entire game with its decision to make children immortal…

  3. go4brendon says:

    Great game although needed more areas to explore, no real point in restarting with new characters.

  4. Shazbut says:

    I feel like there’s an article to be written by somebody on whether the presence of a child in a game like this works because the player feels empathy with the child and acts as if it’s the player’s own, or whether they’re utterly detached and see it as another gameplay mechanic.

    I’m surprised it works honestly. I think an inherent problem in survival games is the very fact that you have to…well, survive. Death is the failure state. Death, to the player characters, is a bad thing that must be avoided, even if it means murdering a bunch of NPCs or doing who knows what else just to keep a small child alive. The kid is a burden that makes the game more difficult, and in playing a game, you seek the easiest and most effective route. Why would I care about the child’s survival if it meant I might lose the game? Maybe empathy really is the driving force. Maybe I have to be a father to play this game the way it wants to be played.

    • Monggerel says:

      But children can be useful resources for raising the morale of the group in times of vicissitude!

      Then again, how much value one is willing to put into emotional capital vs raw material is something everyone has to deal with for themselves! And others! Including children and the elderly! Don’t think you’re getting away from moral hazard like that! Ahhahaha! This is hilarious!…?

  5. Cederic says:

    Sorry but your title just killed any chance of me buying this DLC. Too close to the bone..
    link to imdb.com

    I love and adore bleak harsh films, but that one is one of only three films that’s left me too traumatised to watch again. One of those (Requiem..) I got over, because it’s sacrilege not to watch an Aronofsky multiple times but Grave and Dancer in the Dark I’ll never see again.

    I wouldn’t have worried so much about a game, but I just finished To the Moon. Yeah, games can get you too.

  6. ephesus64 says:

    First reaction: all-caps NOPE. Don’t need those feels. Then I rationalized my discomfort by assuming that the developers would go for cheap emotional effects by putting children in danger as in Star Wars Ep. III, and get the psychology all wrong in favor of shallow cliches. Well…
    link to theguardian.com
    Turns out the devs did their research, and also restrained themselves to a point they deemed appropriate for a video game while still allowing certain aspects of the realities portrayed to carry their full emotional weight. I think I should probably get it while it’s on sale. Good grief.