War is hell, but that's not the message most players would get from playing combat games like "Call of Duty."
Enter "This War of Mine," a new game from 11 Bit Studios where game play involves protecting refugees rather than finding and killing the enemy.
"The game sets itself a lofty yet intriguing goal: to force players to consider that there is more to war, and video games, than shooty shooty bang bang," Gizorama reviewer Liam Lambert wrote.
While war games typically are about head shots and access to the best gun, "This War of Mine" sees its civilian characters salvaging and scavenging abandoned buildings in a fictional Eastern European war zone while battling depression, sleep deprivation and even suicidal thoughts.
"It is a unique approach for a war game, highlighting the often ignored civilian struggle to survive rather than romanticising soldiers on the front line," Digital Spy's Scott Nichols wrote.
While reviewers collectively called the hyper-realism a "downer" aspect of the game, Venture Beat's Heather Newman applauded the game's devotion to realism — building game profiles and conditions based on real-life refugee accounts.
But to call the game "anti war" is too simplistic, says Wired's Matt Peckham.
"The version of war we’re often sold involves abstract military numbers, splashy interactive news maps and easy slogans on bumper stickers," Peckham wrote. "This is what unflinching war looks like from the standpoint of those powerless to stop it, the ones caught in the teeth of the machine without catchy operational monikers to rally behind or celebrated by politicians to usher them home as heroes. The ones whose war this isn’t."