Gerda: A Flame in Winter is a game about World War II, but you’re not running around on the battlefield firing guns. Your goal is to help out in another way, as you’re an average citizen rather than a soldier.
In an interview with Venturebeat, devs Hans Von Knut Skovfoged and Shalev Moran spoke up about wanting to create a war game that eschewed the norms and challenged conventions, all while making you deal with some very tough situations.
Hans Von Knut Skovfoged: We had been making a kind of anti-war war game previously. Then we thought about, well, shouldn’t we come up with a game where you try to solve things in some other way than guns and bombs? I remembered the story of my grandmother, who was a resistance fighter in World War II. She didn’t take part in any violent actions, though. She and her husband were spying on the Germans, taking photos of defensive installations, hiding resistance personnel, smuggling weapons in a baby carriage, things like that. She wasn’t just fighting individual Germans. She was fighting the Nazi regime that occupied Denmark. She didn’t want to simply kill Germans, who were many of them just there because they had to be in the army. She wanted to stand up against the larger occupation.
That nuance, that dilemma–you want to fight for what’s right, but you see the enemy in the form of human beings. That was interesting for us. And so we made this game about a half German, half Danish woman, a nurse. She doesn’t want to kill her countrymen, whether they’re Germans or Danes. She wants to help people. But she always to liberate her country from the Nazi regime. She’s caught in the middle. Furthermore, she’s a civilian. Civilians can’t just run out guns blazing to solve their problems. That’s not how the world works. So what can you do? That was the question we set out to explore.
Shalev Moran: That led us to some of the structure of the game. For example, using some RPG mechanics focused on social relations. Things like your standing with different factions and your trust level with different people. That governs your life. It leads us to challenges for the player. There are all these gray situations, just like in real life. People under the stresses of this kind of occupation had to deal with–they can’t come out with the obvious version of heroism. They have to make some kind of compromise. Not everyone else is going to like what they do. You can see how this led to a certain kind of role-playing experience, where it’s all about the muddy waters of life under occupation, in that crisis, with people who have all these needs, and not all of them can be satisfied.