Gerda: A Flame in Winter is a narrative RPG-lite game developed by PortaPlay and published by Don’t Nod. Meet Gerda, a nurse who is impacted by the ongoing events of World War 2 in 1945 Denmark. As the story unfolds, this unexpected heroine attempts to help her loved ones while also keeping her morals intact. The choices you make will impact your relationships and resources and, ultimately, lead you to new destinations, allowing players to carve out Gerda’s story as you see fit.
This game truly fulfills the promise of narrative games where it at least feels like every decision made impacts the overall experience. The majority of the time, you’ll be leading Gerda to new locations and conversing with others. How you interact with locals is key as you build trust and improve your connections. The game forces you to make decisions that won’t satisfy every party, adding to the plot and potential new obstacles. Will you support the Nazi’s to ensure the safety of someone captured? Or will you choose another path? Your decide. Whether or not these choices truly impact the branching narrative, the illusion of freedom is executed perfectly.
As you progress, RPG elements are introduced in the form of points for Insight, Wits, and Compassion, which can be used to influence dialogue options. These points are allocated when Gerda adds to her diary and are dependent on the final paragraph chosen by the player. Furthermore, some dialogue options involve a chance roll, which can be an advantage or disadvantage to the player based on previous choices and impressions made. These elements spice up the gameplay, adding a sense of risk with nearly every action taken, and I loved every bit of it.
The further I dove into the story, the more it grew on me. There’s quite a bit of reading and character development, which requires some patience. Once that legwork is complete, it seems like things hit the fan at a moment’s notice. As the shift began, I realized how I was truly drawn into the narrative and started to be more methodical with my every decision.
Compliments stop when discussing the visuals and audio design. Gerda: A Flame in Winter is not a pretty game in the slightest. Though this might be intentional to complement the story, the lack of visual detail in character models and backdrops is horrendous. Although the audio design is better, it’s still a bit bland as nothing stands out as noteworthy or memorable. Fortunately, the sound and visuals didn’t detract from the plot, as I was heavily invested.
Although Gerda: A Flame in Winter isn’t the most visually appealing title, it’s still an absolute pleasure to play. The RPG-lite elements are a breath of fresh air as they add a sense of urgency and strategic decision-making that ultimately impacts Gerda’s relationships and her journey. I was shocked with the results of my playthrough and would absolutely love to replay to see how the plot shifts with a medley of different decisions.
Gerda: A Flame in Winter is available now for Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam for $19.99 with a 10% launch discount.
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