Gerda: A Flame in the Winter puts you in a position to choose what you would have done during World War II, in a narrative game with RPG codes. Our opinion in this preview.
It was the scene of countless deaths and today it is a duty to remember all the souls who fought for freedom, even through a video game. The Second World War never leaves marble, especially when we reflect on the impact it had on our societies collectively. But a military conflict like this does not only affect institutions or heads of state, but also people with ordinary lives that change overnight. This is what the developers of PortaPlay want to show us with their game Gerda: A Flame in the Winter.
In this independent title, you play as Gerda, a young nurse with Danish and German origins, a mixture that poses a problem for some during this period of history. Torn between two cultures, and especially two nations that everything opposes militarily speaking, she finds herself overnight making choices that will matter for her survival, but also that of those around her, and which will also impact her moral character.
Original gameplay based on individuality
A bit removed from the genre of traditional narrative games, Gerda: A Flame in the Winter mixes RPG mechanics with its story and takes us into a world where all choices are possible. To do this, you have points that you get by doing certain actions, and that you can also spend to do others. Each choice has more or less important consequences that you have to know how to coexist with your choice of global adventure.
On your way, you meet many characters, German and Danish, civilian and military, who will always put you in a position to question your values and what you would have done in this nurse’s place. Depending on who you talk to, your relationships become strained or friendly over time, and it’s not always clear when a particular dialogue choice will degrade an entire conversation. Just like in real life.
This is the strength of Gerda: A Flame in the Winter. We find ourselves projected into an existence that is not ours, and yet, we do everything to take the place that we are offered and we try to do the best with what we have. At first, Gerda’s journey is a bit nebulous, and knowing that the direction she’s going to take depends on our wishes alone doesn’t help us fully understand what’s at stake.
But that tends to create suspense, a point that we appreciate for this kind of game. If the RPG mechanics took a while to become natural, they are ultimately very well integrated into the whole, and make a simple narrative game a dynamic experience that we want to discover more. This feeling is reinforced by the fact that a choice is always irreversible and that we must know how to act with the consequences of our actions.
It’s not a game about good versus evil, but about being in the middle and working with both sides so Gerda can choose which to help and which to support. That’s why we wanted her to be a nurse so that the player sees her as a protector and takes a more empathetic stance towards other characters in the game. Hans von Knut Skovfoged – Head of Development
Unfailing realism therefore, both in the way of telling things, and in the particularly interesting game environment. Strongly inspired by the story of the grandmother of one of the developers, Gerda’s life transports us into a political whirlwind that has taken on board as many civilians as soldiers. The message here is quite clear, the Second World War was no longer easy for anyone and each person has their own experience.
What would you have done in his place?
Despite the subject it addresses, Gerda: A Flame in the Winter it is also a soft and warm experience, all this nestled in the heart of a hostile winter. The painted graphics bring a very solemn touch to the whole universe, but also very poetic. We are faced with a moving picture that reveals itself a little more with each stroke of the brush. And like all good things, the painting must come to an end.
Players will therefore enjoy finding many possible endings, which brings endless replayability, but also new ways to see how the same beginning can lead to a radically different situation depending on the people to whom it is played. it was decided to give trust or credit.
We really wanted an RPG that didn’t use magical powers and didn’t push the character to get stronger with each level they go through. In our game, the player can accumulate points, but we also encourage him to spend them. The goal is not to gain power, but rather to balance your faculties, use them when you can. – Shalev Moran, lead designer
The characters aren’t all endearing, but most of them are interesting. Whether you decide to play their game, approve their point of view or trust your own instincts, they all stay true to themselves and some of them have several layers that you have to give yourself. worth understanding… or not. That’s up to you. A beautiful story to put in all hands.
For all those who wish to discover Gerda’s story, see you next September 1 on PC and Nintendo Switch.