It feels like it hasn’t been that long since I played a dialogue-heavy game that focused primarily on WWII. I have this feeling because I recently reviewed Syberia: The World Before. Gerda: a flame in winter isn’t that similar, though, from what I experienced in the preview. The game comes out later this year, September 1, and I was able to spend a few hours with its story. I came away extremely impressed and very eager to play more. Gerda impresses with strong dialogue and a plethora of seemingly meaningful choices.
Gerda: a flame in winter sees you play as the titular character. She is half Danish and half German and lives in an occupied Danish town in 1945. Gerda’s husband worked with the resistance to dismantle the local German war machine, but he gets caught. You spend the game trying to walk a tightrope with Danes and Germans on either side. How you do it is up to you. There is very little voice acting in the game, except for Gerda’s monologues. All other texts are unvoiced, at least currently. The writing is of very good quality, and there is a lot of dialogue.
The game plays with a dynamic camera angle that varies between top-down and wider viewpoints as Gerda moves through the environments. The visuals are simple yet evocative, resembling a pixelated watercolor, which may or may not be hard to imagine. Gerda can be moved directly or by clicking on locations in the world. You’ll mostly talk to people, of course, but it really is a game. All the main characters have trust points. As you choose certain options, their trust in Gerda will increase or decrease, which can lead to significantly different results.
choose your path
And it’s not just individuals you’ll affect with your decisions. Your actions will influence how Danes and Germans perceive you as a group. I mentioned Gerda’s monologues earlier, and these happen after you complete a segment. Gerda shares her thoughts in her diary and you choose how she closes the entrance. Whatever you choose will give him a point of compassion, insight, or wit. The points in this will allow you to spend them on certain actions. They can also be used as statistics in dice rolls alongside individual confidence and how a group feels about you.
These options may fail, but you are more likely to succeed based on the number. Similarly, you will also get more dialogue options. You can almost constantly increase or decrease them based on your responses, giving the player a ton of agency in the proceedings, even if it’s just dialogue. It feels more like a complex, verbose RPG than any narrative game I’ve ever played. It’s also partly up to you how you want to navigate situations, which will also greatly increase the replay value.
Gerda: a flame in winter is a really promising game with a lot of writing and game design talent behind it, so doing this preview definitely bumped it up my most wanted list for this year. In fact, being able to take part in a story beyond surface-level interactions is less common than I’d like, so to see it executed so well is extremely tempting.