At today’s Nintendo Indie World, publisher Dontnod Entertainment and Danish developer PortaPlay announced Gerda: A Flame in Winter for Nintendo Switch and PC, launching in 2022. It is a narrative adventure with RPG-lite elements that takes place in Denmark in February 1945, at the tail end of World War II, and you play as Gerda Larsen, a countryside nurse who’s been trying to live peacefully with her husband Anders. When an unspecified calamity occurs, the burden of keeping their village together and protecting loved ones falls to Gerda, who is armed “only with her wits and knowledge.” We got to experience a slight taste of the game in a hands-off presentation with Dontnod Entertainment PR & Influence Manager Célia Berard, and we will really like what we’ve seen so far.
At its heart, Gerda: A Flame in Winter will pose moral dilemmas for Gerda as she interacts with both the resistance and the Nazis and tries to make the choices that will keep her people safe. Indeed, the tagline of the game is, “How far would you go to protect your loved ones?” However, to be clear, Dontnod emphasizes that this is not a game about sympathizing with the Nazis. Rather, it is about how Gerda preserves her humanity while making tough decisions.
DONTNOD and @PortaPlay are thrilled to present #Gerda: A Flame in Winter — a brand-new narrative game coming to Nintendo Switch and PC (Steam) in 2022 ?
Check out the #GAFIW teaser now!#IndieWorld@IndieWorldNA pic.twitter.com/QxudFZxXrj
— DONTNOD (@DONTNOD_Ent) December 15, 2021
The example presented was that the Nazis come to Gerda requesting her help with a wounded soldier: Should Gerda help the man, as her basic human duty as a nurse? I think most people’s knee-jerk response would be absolutely not, but it’s probably a little different when a suffering person is right in front of you.
Visually, Gerda: A Flame in Winter feels doll-like in a way, with its top-down camera angles and purposefully blocky character models. It’s deceptively cute, actually, but whether that’s intended or not, it’s a quickly digestible style that will let the game stay focused on its narrative (and shouldn’t push the Nintendo Switch hardware). Plus, the doll-esque style in itself creates a sensation of the game being set in older times, so it just works somehow.
And the specific time period is notable, being set in February 1945. There are barely a few months left in the war in Europe at this point, so theoretically, this should be the Nazis at their most desperate and pathetic. It should be compelling (and perversely enjoyable) to see them in such a state, especially in a game that isn’t a first-person shooter or a survival simulation.
Gerda: A Flame in Winter is inspired by real-life events, but in general, the concept sounds really cool. It seems Dontnod Entertainment and PortaPlay have something special in development with this narrative adventure. Of course, there are plenty of details we don’t know yet, such as how the “RPG-lite” features will work, and which PC platform(s) it will appear on has not been pinned down yet. But hey, I’m sold.
Stay tuned for more of Gerda: A Flame in Winter from Dontnod and PortaPlay ahead of its release on Nintendo Switch and PC in 2022.