The game is set in 2014, during what is variably called Operation Protective Edge or 2014 Gaza war. You are playing as the unnamed civilian in the early days of the conflict, who is soon forced to run and evacuate his daughter, Liyla. The game is very short, and to say anything more would lead to spoilers.
Rule of Cautious Editing Judgement probably applies here.
Liyla and the Shadows of War provides examples of the following tropes:
- A Million Is a Statistic: The game acts as a deconstruction of this. After you see a school get destroyed in an air strike, and then the same thing happen to an ambulance that had Liyla in it, the credits show that there was a total of 28 schools and 20 ambulances destroyed.
- Auto-Scrolling Level: One occurs after your wife, and Liyla's mother, dies, and your character and Liyla will have to run past the many destroyed homes, jumping over burning pieces of wreckage in their path.
- But Thou Must!: An intentional example. Whereas you get the choice of whether to approach the children on the beach and the UNRWA school or stay away from them, your only choice when the ambulance tells you they only have room for one patient is to tell them to take Liyla.
- The Dead Have Names: The game portrays the episode when four boys playing soccer on the beach were killed by an attack. The credits cite the exact date that happened, and write their names and ages.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The entire game is in black and white, with the only spot color coming from the flames of the jets or explosions.
- Downer Ending: Your character sends Liyla off with the ambulance, but it gets blown up in an airstrike almost as soon as it drives off, killing everyone inside.
- Hollywood Darkness: Averted. The night is genuinely dark, and gets even darker after the power station gets destroyed in an air strike, turning out all of the lights. Then, though an Israeli plane drops a light bomb on a parachute, forcing you to hide for the entire time the bomb is in the air, else you'll get killed by a drone.
- Schmuck Bait: Two particularly dark examples. You and Liyla will come by the children playing soccer on the beach, and be given a choice on whether you should approach them and tell them to follow you or stay away. They get killed immediately after, and Liyla will die with them if you let them approach. Then, you are given a choice of whether you should seek shelter in a school run by the UN agency, UNRWA. Of course, it gets bombed as well.
- Shown Their Work: The game's credits list the Palestinian casualties of that conflict, and how every episode in the game was based on something that actually happened in real life.
- Winged Soul Flies Off at Death: You'll see a blue orb fly off from the dead body of Liyla, which slowly turns into her silhouette, at which points it meets the same silhouette of her mother in the sky, before they both fly up and disappear. Then, dozens more souls appear in sight and do the same thing. Lastly, the credits show that happen to the boys