A Survival Game About Being A Refugee

A Survival Game About Being A Refugee

Games have applied survival mechanics to everything from dinosaurs to zombies to aliens. Once relegated to childhood sandboxes, we can now explore these topics in… video game sandboxes! But there have been more grounded takes on survival as well. This War of Mine kicked off the trend, and HomeBehind looks to continue it.

It’s a game about fleeing your war-torn homeland in hopes of eventually reaching Europe. Along the way, you’ll meet all sorts of people — some sympathetic to your cause, others… less so — while trying not to starve, catch a disease or break all your bones. The path you take and the events you encounter will be procedurally generated, and you’ll be able to craft things, including food to keep you alive and weapons to also keep you alive (by making wild animals and sometimes people dead).

The game looks like this:

Yeah, the trailer’s kinda over-the-top, but it’s also being made by two people from China who admit that English isn’t their first language; some things are bound to get lost in translation.

It’s an interesting concept for a game, and it seems like the developers have put a lot of thought into the systems underlying it. However, this is also a weighty subject, and while the developers are aiming to create a “realistic storyline”, they’re laying down pavement in a minefield. I can’t think of many games that have included refugees as anything more than an afterthought, let alone their primary focus. That means this game will carry added weight, even if it’s not meant to. I wonder to what degree the developers are consulting refugees for their stories, researching history and so on.

At the same time, though, you’ve gotta start somewhere, and turning often dehumanised people into human beings with very real wants and needs (food, shelter, family and so on) is a better starting point than most. I’m interested to see where this game goes. It’s on Steam Greenlight right now, if you’d like to keep tabs on it.

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