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Dead Man's Hill

by Arno von Borries profile


Web Site

(based on 7 ratings)
2 reviews

About the Story

Mutual slaughter in northern France, spring 1916.

Game Details


Entrant, Back Garden - Spring Thing 2016

Editorial Reviews

Wade's Important Astrolab
I found Dead Man's Hill to be a thoroughly absorbing experience whose design and programming I admire, even though there's still need for a lot of technical revision. The game satisfies both as a war simulation with measurable mechanics and tactical elements, and as a conceptual piece with overarching ideas about its content.
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Number of Reviews: 2
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Crooked but compact, April 1, 2023

This was a dry yet thoroughly engaging exposition of the trench warfare of French-German lines at the hills of Verdun in 1916.

In truth I hadn't needed to state the latter half of the previous sentence the way I did. A simple 'WWI' would've sufficed. The game didn't make any noteworthy distinction of its specific historical settings and time (of it taking place as part of the Battle of Verdun); at least, nothing I was too aware of. Unless you count you playing as a German and the enemy all being Frenchmen as nuanced historical detail. The weapons seemed mostly accurate to the overarching timeline of the war: usage of some of them as employed by the in-game personnel ... were not ((Spoiler - click to show)see: the grenade).

Bits of spotty code here and there, some a bit redundant. I didn't have the energy to track them. The game commands are complicated and specific to game. Some may find them convoluted and repetitive I thought such qualities contributed perfectly to the illustration of the mechanical nature of war attempted by the game. I advise that new players acquaint themselves with the examples provided in the Help menu before playing. The notes on tactical coverage are also quite useful.

I'm not sure how well the game's attempt at depicting the futility of war succeeded. Things felt mechanical, certainly. I died an absurd number of times in unremarkable and usually unpreventable ways. The impersonality of the military personnel / the men under your command. Et cetera. But futile? I kept going back to correct my mistakes ((Spoiler - click to show)oversights like jumping into a trench too soon after hurling a grenade and not waiting long enough for it to detonate, ahem, or not equipping the men well enough) and seeing how long I could keep my men and I alive for. (Spoiler - click to show)I haven't had the situation of a new soldier joining me (mentioned in other reviews), for example. Though that might be because I haven't made use of the save feature yet in this game.

(Ignoring my personal feelings on the subject) I come from a family who culturally identifies with a positive image of war. So it's interesting to see and experience an attempted portrayal of the other side of the argument.

Highly recommended. Just get past the initial learning curve of familiarizing yourself with the commands (the Help menu is there for a reason!).

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A game about the horror of war and the battle of Verdun, April 7, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2016

This is a short, simulation-heavy game. You carry a variety of weapons and command two other soldiers. You are a german in the battle of Verdun, fighting in a French trench. In what is perhaps a mockery of FPS's that glorify war, you can use a bayonet, a spade, a flamethrower, grenades, automatic rifle, etc. and command your followers to equip whatever you want.

I'll put what happens in the game in spoilers, but it's just what you'll discover after playing for 3 or 4 turns:
(Spoiler - click to show)You go around the trench trying to clear it out. As you encounter the french, you stab, burn, or shoot each other to death, with the dying praying in agony or weeping. You keep track of your body count. I've not been able to find any more about the game.</spolier>

Overall, I found the combat mechanics a bit clunky and the game not fun to play, but I believe this is intentional. Reading the INFO text, its clear the author wants to remind us about the truth of war. It was a sobering game, and I believe that author really has something effective here.

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Dead Man's Hill on IFDB


The following polls include votes for Dead Man's Hill:

Wandering NPCs by Fredrik
I have always been fascinated with games that have several wandering and independent NPCs, especially when you have the ability to try to order them around. This sets the stage for a game where no one session is like any other, and even...

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