Review | Gerda: A Flame in Winter is a different kind of war game that might surprise the player

Gerda: A Flame in Winter

Gerda: A Flame In Winter, an adventure set in Denmark during the Second World War, is not full of front-line horrors: It tells a touching story of civilians left behind by the war, who try to continue their lives despite the ongoing events.


Gerda: A Flame in WinterPublication date: 1 September 2022
Studio: PortaPlay
Publisher: Dontnod Entertainment
Available: PC, Nintendo Switch (tested)
Players: 1
Age limit: 16
Game played for review: about 8 hours


Gerda: A Flame in Winterin the developer PortaPlay is certainly a rather unknown factor to the general public, but behind the game there is also a slightly better-known name, the publisher Dontnod Entertainment. The French gambling house has become known for, among other things Life is Strange -from the first two parts of the series and Tell Me Why – about the adventure.

Disgustingly topical in its theme, Gerda: A Flame in Winter is, in its deepest essence, an interactive narrative decorated with light role-playing game elements.

The main character of the adventure is played by nurse Gerda, the descendant of a Danish mother and a German father. She lives with her husband Anders in the small southern Danish village of Tinglev, which is located near the German border.

It is 1945, and although Tinglev has been spared the worst of the fighting, the Nazis have managed to occupy the town. Due to the proximity to the German border and the history of the village (it used to belong to Germany), there are also many German residents living in the town. Some of the townspeople are loyal to Germany, some to Denmark, but most are just trying to continue their normal lives under occupation.

Gerda: A Flame in Winter

One evening, the relatively peaceful life of Gerda and her husband takes a turn for the more dangerous when the Gestapo arrives for an unexpected visit to their home. As a result of the events, Gerda finds herself in the middle of the conflict between the Nazis and the Danish resistance movement. Now the woman, who has remained neutral, has to choose a side, but Gerda’s parentage causes problems in addition to everything else: neither side considers the Danish-German woman one of their own, at least not without strong assurance.

Meanwhile, it should be noted that Gerda: A Flame in Winter contains some Nazi-themed imagery, but you can hide these symbols from view if you wish.

The branching narrative is inspired by real events: Gerda’s role model is the grandmother of a person who is part of the development team. The six- to seven-hour plot does not blow your mind, but the down-to-earth story about the impact of war on people’s everyday lives manages to wrap the player around their fingers for the entire duration.

Gerda: A Flame in Winter

In terms of mechanics, Gerda: A Flame in Winter works simply. Most of the time is spent exploring the city and its surroundings, talking with the people you meet and making tough choices. Luckily, no fight of any kind has been involved.

The story has different endings depending on the choices made by the player. Their effect on the gameplay itself is minor, and the sum of the consequences of the choices is actually only seen at the very end. Then we will find out which of the characters met during the adventure will live and who will experience a cruel fate.

The events of the work and the people involved in them are painted in dozens of different shades of gray, and things are neither black nor white: the Nazis are not complete monsters, but often seem partially human. On the other hand, the Danish resistance fighters are not necessarily angels. This makes choosing a side even painful at times, which is only a good thing.

For example, in one mission, the player has to weigh who to hand the vital medicine to. There are three different people after Rohdos, each of whom at least in their own opinion has a good reason for their need. The decision may have surprising consequences, but it is precisely such choice situations that increase the replay value of Gerda: A Flame in Winter. The work is designed to be played several times from floor to ceiling, because you can’t experience everything in one playthrough.

Gerda: A Flame in Winter

Before starting the game, I had time to say that the choices will not be difficult, because who would sympathize with the Nazis. My confusion was great when, at the end of a long deliberation, I took the “wrong” side at a few points. I wasn’t always proud of my decisions – so the game evokes great emotions, including the less pleasant ones.

Gerda’s character traits, i.e. compassion, insight and wit, serve as her skills. These abilities are used in discussions and in selection situations.

The decisions made by the heroine increase or decrease her trust among different parties. If, for example, the Danes’ credit towards the nurse is low, she will not be able to participate in all the events of that party. A little frowning is caused by the fact that if Gerda talks bad about the Nazis, for example, even if none of them are around to hear, the woman’s words still have a negative effect on her reputation with the group in question.

My own knowledge of the Second World War is shamefully limited, but luckily you don’t need to know the history of Denmark during the Second World War to enjoy the adventure. There is a kind of encyclopedia that explains to the player the meaning of different words and the facts behind them. Gerda: A Flame in Winter is actually a very educational game in many respects.

Gerda: A Flame in Winter

Looking like a watercolor painting, Gerda: A Flame in Winter is visually captivatingly reduced. The style fits the prevailing atmosphere brilliantly, but causes minor problems. Due to the lack of details, examining some objects is only possible with difficulty, as it is not always possible to distinguish, for example, which object is lying on the table. Sometimes the research has to be done within a certain time limit, and especially in this case valuable time is wasted looking at useless objects.

In the current world situation, playing a war-themed game doesn’t sound very appealing. However, Gerda: A Flame in Winter manages to bring a slightly different perspective to the current topic, and remind us that normal people suffer the most in war.

Charming in its simplicity, Gerda: A Flame in Winter is an interesting case. The plot, appearance and game mechanics seem simple, but the moral choices break the familiar pattern and are anything but simple. As an experience, the work is memorable, and the time spent working on it does not feel wasted. Gerda’s adventures are worth checking out, if the leisurely, story-based games make your heart skip a beat.

GERDA: A FLAME IN WINTER

Rating: 3.5/5

“Gerda: A Flame in Winter charms with its simplicity, and challenges the player to forget black and white thinking.”

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Gerda: A Flame in Winter


Source: Muropaketti.com by muropaketti.com.

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