Games of the Year

Through the Darkest of Times

Through the Darkest of Times Screenshot 1
Through the Darkest of Times Screenshot 2
Through the Darkest of Times Screenshot 3
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Through the Darkest of Times Screenshot 5
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Dark times mean fear and risks. The risk to be caught by patrolling National Socialists, looking for people who publicly stand against their point of view. The risk of being beaten up or even killed by the German military because we‘re opposing the regime. The risk of losing everything, including our loved ones. This is how we live. This is how we try to survive. Through the darkest of times. You are the leader of a small resistance group in 1933’s Berlin, of ordinary people, from Jews to Catholics and Communists to Patriots who simply can’t stand aside. Your goal is to deal with small blows to the regime – dropping leaflets to spread awareness about what the Nazis are really up to among the people, painting messages on walls, sabotaging, gathering information and recruiting more followers. And all of that while staying undercover – if the regime’s forces learn about your group, the life of each member is in grave danger.
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

I tried to evacuate Jews from Berlin in 1941.
I failed.
They were all murdered.
I was executed in 1945 by the SS for un-German activities.

Review from Steam

The line between making a game and making a political statement or educational instrument is extremely thin. Through the Darkest of Times walks that line masterfully. It's one of those projects that puts you into the shoes of a historical place but never forgets that this is a game and ensures that you feel like your choices mattered.
You take on the role of a resistance leader during the rise of Hitler. Each turn you will deploy your resistance members to raise funds, motivate new supporters, steal supplies, or conduct action against the Nazis. You need to balance funding, morale, and risks in order to survive each chapter. Your members will develop their skills over time and learning to utilize their personality traits will boost your odds of success.
The gameplay itself is not nearly as strategic as it first seems at first glance, but there's enough to feel like a pretty good board game. Mostly, it comes down to keeping your morale high while raising your supporters to a size that they can fund your activities. Random events can occur and require tough choices, but mechanically it's all about balancing those sliders.
It doesn't matter whether you're painting a mural, firebombing a military installation, or rescuing prisoners. They all serve as ways to boost your morale mid chapter and require you to collect X materials to perform. At this point you pick operatives that will enhance your success rate while keeping the danger percentage low. Roll the dice and hope for the best, its a game of controlled luck rather than deep strategy.
The board game is broken up by "Story Scenes" every few months that work like a choose your own adventure novel. The choices you make will have, potentially long-term, consequences. It ranges from small things like "Do you speak out against things publicly to a friend?" to larger ones like "Do we promise to rescue a trapped family member despite the danger?"
The storytelling and choices are excellent on this front. They turn what feels like an abstract board game feel alot more like a personal tale and have you weighing your morals vs. what needs to be done. At least through my first run, there haven't been many easy choices and I like that.
The one place I think the game really falls short is the overarching flow of the campaign. As I mentioned before, it feels like a board game but the 4 chapter campaign feels out of place. The way the chapters are structured it feels like they should be separate missions you'd pick from when you start a game.
The problem is that your morale, equipment and supporters don't carry across from chapter. You win the chapter, the board is cleared, time passes and you need to start over again. But if you die or want to try other tactics in a chapter you need to start the entire game over.
This lack of reward for doing good, combined with the punishment for failure feels wrong. It really should have been, "Beat one chapter to unlock the next on the main menu" with 2-3 hour games.
But overall, this is one of the best games I've played from an edutainment standpoint. It might not have been intended as such but it provides a fantastic way to experience a period in history firsthand. If you want to make a "Serious Game" or "Game for a Cause" it's worth looking at all the things this did right.

Review from Steam

Wow, I liked this game a lot. Creating a team to fight nazis? Awesome. And surprisingly I replayed it again and again not only out of my naive desire to win this war but also for the stuff that this game teaches you, that my history class in school wasn't able to. Those numerous murders and other crimes, the despair of the people that had to live in those times, and how hard it was to secure even just a little bit of humanity from these murderers. Nonetheless it is an exciting game, but it is a lot, so be prepared.
10/10

Review from Steam

This is more of a documentary in game form than a pure game. As a game, it's not bad. After 5 hours, I've made it partway through 1944 before having my organization collapse in a miserable heap. We achieved some things, but it doesn't really feel like we achieved enough. When analyzing the failure of my organization, it seems to have failed for the same reasons that real-world organizations fail, so that's good.
Recommended to students of political history.

Review from Steam

Interesting game, brings you into the perspectives of those resisting tyranny and despotism. Very engaging, it always has you second-guessing yourself as to what is right.
Easy to learn how to play, but not an easy game, if that makes sense.
Beautiful narrative.

Review from Steam

Offers a highly interesting perspective on the rise and fall of Nazism in Germany and how it affected its victims throughout these turbulent times. Also touches on the subject of how "such a civilized place like Germany could ever elect a barbarian like Hitler". Gameplay-wise there's really not much to it but the story is definitely quite good.

Review from Steam

I like it, it has the feel of resistance. Game seems to have an interesting strategy, though I didn't dive deep into it yet. It certainly has a strong vibe. If the topic means something to you, I think you will like how the game feels.

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