By Joseph Luster
The events that occurred during the Winter War and the Continuation War that followed were truly monumental, and a new game aims to harness those stories to great effect. Strategic Mind: Spirit of Liberty puts players in the role of a commander in charge of a scarce assortment of Finnish troops in an attempt to defend their homeland from annihilation at the hands of invading Soviet soldiers. Following up on the Prologue 1939 release earlier this year, this is the latest in a series of games from Ukrainian development studio Starni Games, and it’s now available to dive into on PC.
The Strategic Mind series first kicked off in 2019 with Strategic Mind: The Pacific, which, as its title implies, takes players through the conflict between the United States and Japan. Strategic Mind: Blitzkrieg followed in May 2020, with a focus on fighting from the perspective of the German Armed Forces. Then we had Strategic Mind: Spectre of Communism in November 2020, pulling the same duties with the USSR Armed Forces as they attempted to stage the world Communist revolution. Throw in 2021’s Strategic Mind: Fight for Freedom—which handles said fight from the Allied side—and you have a humble collection of games that cover a lot of ground in a relatively short amount of time.
Spirit of Liberty continues the tradition with both historical and alternate history campaigns. The former covers the 1939-1945 timeline, spanning the Winter War, Continuation War and Lapland War. The operations in this campaign are on a slightly smaller scale, but the stakes are high as players get the opportunity to virtually experience these crucial conflicts. And then there are the alternate history missions, which make up a shorter campaign with larger operations. The “what if” events within have players helping the Germans take Leningrad and cut off allied aid shipments to the USSR, among other situations. Cinematics help expand and emphasize the story before and after each operation, and there are a bunch of primary and secondary objectives to attend to along the way, complete with narration by various historical characters.
As one would expect from a campaign focused on recreating historical battles, the units within are as true to reality as possible. The Finns may have been short on tanks and other essential equipment in 1939, but you’ll be able to command ski troops and capture Soviet vehicles to help your cause. These include BT-7, T-34 and KV tanks, and your army can also purchase German Pz-IV tanks and other units and weapons beyond those captured. At historically accurate points, new and updated models will become available for a much-needed upgrade, so you’ll want to keep your forces primed at any given opportunity.
There are many nuances to the campaign in Strategic Mind: Spirit of Liberty, including directing the progress of your headquarters staff so new skills can be learned, conferring with other high-ranking officers for helpful advice and choosing when and where to apply both lethal and nonlethal damage to your enemies. Everything from the direct combat to the complex reconnaissance system is available to tinker with and make your own, opening up a bunch of strategic possibilities. There’s also a heroes system that gives you a chance to generate a heroic historical personality—deadly World War II sniper Simo Häyhä, AKA The White Death, for instance—after meeting certain requirements.
The Strategic Mind series has proven itself to be an interesting one so far, taking hints from the likes of Strategic Simulations’ Panzer General series. If you’ve been keeping up with the games so far, this is likely already on your PC as you read this. For everyone else, the unique point of view depicted alone may be reason enough to give Strategic Mind: Spirit of Liberty a shot.