Gerda: Winter flames are a major departure for donuts. Although there are differences in the catalog behind it (Vampire, Remember Me and Life Is Strange don’t fit neatly), Gerda feels completely fresh not just for the studio but for the whole gaming. You see her playing as the title Gerda when her Danish home was occupied by the Nazis during World War II. When I previewed the game a month ago, I was shocked to see how well the harsh but informal tragedies of war are captured for those far from the front lines. To get deeper into it, I sent a few questions to Don’t Node, which were answered by email jointly by Chief Designer Shalev Moran and Creative Director Hans von Nutt.
“It simply came to our notice then [telling a war story from a home life perspective] They tell me that, as you say, it is a rare sight. On a battle where the rivalry is clear and moral questions are even painted in color. We wanted to bring a completely different angle – to the citizens on the Homefront, who work in society and confront the very heroic reality of gray-area morality and tough decisions. Our current world is witnessing more and more protracted conflicts, where border or civil disputes are not resolved in a small explosive heroic war – but they have spread over many years and decades, leaving the entire community in different spheres. We think that taking a famous conflict like WW2 and exploring it from the perspective of the citizens involved is an exercise that will unfortunately become more relevant as time goes on. “
I was fascinated by the idea of a gray area while playing games. The devs make strong points – war is seldom black and white, and World War 2 is a war most people will notice. But it is also a war defined by the Nazis, one of the worst and most inhumane armies in European history. I wondered how they could classify these two realities.
“We never support or condone the actions of the Nazi regime and its allies, but racism and fascism are inhumane and we will not take a page out of their book,” he says. “So we make it a point to look at everyone as fully human, no matter how bad their actions are. Writing those characters is like ‘getting into the Nazi mindset’ and trying to see the world through them. Ideology is not something we do most of the time.” Be careful – as mentioned, we never try to explain the Nazi regime. Instead, we look at other aspects of their existence and find parallels to the human experience with which we can empathize: pride, duty, sense of belonging, even national pride and patriotism. Many of us have been taught since childhood. Some of us in the studio have served in the military, and they can channel experiences. We wanted to play a challenging game for ourselves. And for our players, and this approach was one of the biggest and most appropriate challenges. “
In my playing experience so far, this challenge remains. At one point we find a Nazi officer, addicted to drugs, stealing drugs. If we kill him a rat, we will get the medicine back, but there is a risk of punishment. If we let him keep it, we can get a piece of gratitude and it kills another Nazi, leaving no medicine to cure him.
One of the things I struggled with the most in the game was not descriptive, but mechanical. At some point, Gerda can give the old man a scarf. I expected that this would give me extra sympathy points, as a reward, but instead I lost one point by ‘using’ a sympathy action. Thematically I understand – war discourages you and makes you selfish, cynical. But as a gameplay experience, it made me want to collect all my empathy and all my other emotions like health medicine. After talking to the gods about it, it turned out to be just as frustrating as I found it.
“We hope they struggle with it, because that was the intention!” They say. “Many games offer players [a chance] Behaving generously as a stylistic choice – which might be appropriate for the idea of power about tough-guru, lone-wolf heroes. But for those who are part of a community in crisis, the fact of the matter is that some good deeds do not go unnoticed. Gerda and people in similar situations can’t keep their hands clean – the reality of living under business and scarcity usually doesn’t allow for good and bad choices. We tried to reflect this in both the story as well as in the RPG system: the current challenges facing Gerda have immediate implications for actions and its long-term impact on statistics, such as its relationship with certain individuals and groups. “
Another disappointment – again, apparently deliberately, which has already made me more warm for the game – came through Gerda’s diary. She keeps a record of her thoughts and points are once again on offer. She gets different state boosts depending on what she writes, which I think is against the narrative power of the story. That’s the point – if you keep a secret diary of what the Nazi regime did to your country, do you really write what you think, or if you find it, you’ll be smarter in your words. Most importantly, can you favor the Nazis even in your own private writing?
“We’re deliberately trying to create tension between the two ways of thinking – against what I believe will lead to my goals – which are usually not aligned,” God says. “We believe that it is more honest with the experience of people in distress who do not have the privilege of living with a pure heart. Every role they play has a price. And we believe that this price is not only social but also mental. – I mean what you say and what You can’t completely separate how you feel about it. That’s why when she expresses her opinion in her diary, Gerda’s mental energy changes. That is why her actions change her relationship with different groups. It’s not like pure prestige, it’s like the karmic system in other RPGs, it shows Gerda’s closeness to a certain group – she might approach them for strategy. Reasons, but she can’t help but be impressed. “
Gerda: A Flame in Winter launches on September 1 on the Nintendo Switch and PC
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