Help Will Come Tomorrow Review
A long time ago, I played This War of Mine. Although Rob didn’t like it, I loved every moment of the game. It was depressing as all get-out, but the gameplay kept me hooked for hours on end and left me with some of my favorite gameplay memories to date. After reaching the end of the game, however, I was left wanting more. I was hoping that Help Will Come Tomorrow would fill that want, but after playing it, I’ve accepted that I’ll just have to replay This War of Mine.
The set-up for Help Will Come Tomorrow is about as simple as game set-ups come. A diverse set of characters are on a train headed for Siberia in 1917 when it unexpectedly gets derailed by bandits. Barely escaping with their lives, four passengers escape to the nearby woods and are given the simple task of surviving until help can arrive.
As expected, this is where you come in. In Help Will Come Tomorrow, you take control of four survivors of the train wreck and try to keep them alive for as long as you can. It’s not exactly War and Peace, but this cliche start of Help Will Come Tomorrow does a good job of introducing what makes it unique from other games in the genre. The game is set during the middle of the October Revolution in Imperial Russia, and as such, all four of the survivors that you’ll be watching over are from different social classes. This means that each one has their own set of skills, and more uniquely, each one has a different relationship with the others. This relationship affects how effectively everyone works together once you get into the slew of survival mechanics and does a good job of providing an introduction to the game.
As soon as you’re introduced to the relationship system, you’re given the normal package of survival staples to contend with. Like most games set in a frozen wasteland, the core gameplay of Help Will Come Tomorrow revolves around resource management and base building. During the day, you’ll command your group to do the normal lot of tasks that exist in every survival game. The tiles around your base need to be explored and scavenged, your camp needs to have structures built to ensure your survival and each one of your party members needs to be given enough food to survive. Like in This War of Mine, all of these things are enjoyable in their own right and just satisfying enough to keep you hooked until the game gets to what makes it unique.
It helps that each one of these fairly generic mechanics has a slight twist. Structures in your base are built to quality level instead of a completion checkbox, you can send parties out to explore instead of a single character and your party will work better if they all like one another. These are all minor changes to the formulaic survival genre, but they add some variety to the game.
The main thing that sets Help Will Come Tomorrow apart is what you do at night. At the end of each day, all of your characters gather around the campfire where you’ll choose two topics for everyone to discuss. The conversations range from talking about the day’s events to someone telling a funny story from their past. Regardless of the topic, however, it’ll affect your party’s feelings about one another which in turn affects how willing your party is to work together. In a game that’s full of elements that have been done before in other games, these conversations are a highlight that always feel important and are enjoyable regardless of how often they happen.
They’re also important because outside of these campfire talks, the game lacks a good sense of atmosphere. Help Will Come Tomorrow’s graphics look almost cute, and when combined with fairly generic Russian music, they simply don’t feel right in a game about brutal survival. The game is enjoyable enough to look at, but it does a terrible job of making you feel like you’re the one actually surviving. Instead, you’ll feel like you’re someone controlling a group of survivors from behind a screen, save for the time that’s spent in front of a virtual campfire.
The campfire is also the only place that you can get any sort of story. Although the game’s setting is unique, it assumes that you know a lot about 1917 Russia. You’re able to learn a bit about the goings-on in the world from the snippets of dialogue you get around the fire, but outside of this there’s never any explanation for anything that’s going on. Why are bandits roaming around in Siberia during 1917? Why is nobody coming to help us? Why can all of these people survive on vodka and mushrooms? Although you can figure most of this out from the Wikipedia page about Imperial Russia, doing so will take you out of an experience that isn’t much of an experience to begin with. When combined with the lack of atmosphere, Help Will Come Tomorrow feels like a game to play instead of a game to get immersed in.
Taken as a whole, though, Help Will Come Tomorrow is still a mostly worthwhile endeavor. With somewhat interesting if derivative gameplay, cool campfires and a unique cast of survivors, there’s a lot to enjoy. However the lack of any real story or atmosphere will take you out of the experience and leave you without anything to remember the game by. The end result is a decidedly OK game that doesn’t do anything terrible, but does little to differentiate itself from the many other survival games available right now.
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