Forget Helldivers, the viral hit that's swallowing all my time is this free browser game about stopping the Nazis from coming to power

A game over screen for Social Democracy, showing the triumph of the united front over the forces of fascism.
(Image credit: Autumn Chen / tothcsabatibor on Twitter)

Look, I get it. You're tired of reading about 20th-century German social democracy on PC Gamer dot com. "Please!" you yell, "Write about Helldivers! Say something about Palworld! One of you must have another Starfield take left in the tank! Anything but another lengthy discourse on the political economy of Rudolf Hilferding!"

Well, sorry friendo, but the Otto Braun-posting will continue until the crisis of capitalism improves.

No, I haven't lost my mind, I've just spent way too long embroiled in Social Democracy: An Alternate History, a free browser game by Autumn Chen that you can play right now on On my corner of social media—which consists mostly of people ending years-long friendships over arguments about Karl Kautsky—it's the latest viral hit.

Based on a derivative of the engine behind the (also excellent) Fallen London, Social Democracy is a relatively simple, card-based affair that sees you guide the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) through the turbulent years 1928 to 1933. Your goal is to stop, by any means you so choose, the rise of the Nazis to power in 1933.

And I mean, good luck. If you're not familiar with European history: 1928 to 1933 was a really bad time to be the German Social Democratic Party. While it was once considered the vanguard of Europe's left-wing labour movement, the SPD of 1928 was dealing with a reputation battered by its support for the First World War, the aftermath of the failed Spartacist uprising, plus attacks from the far-right and the Communist Party (who considered the SPD a wing of "social fascism").

This all means that the closest thing you have to friends at the game's beginning are Germany's middle-class and bourgeois parties, who really have never gotten over all your talk of Marxism for the last several decades, seeing you mostly as a stepping stone to power via some kind of coalition government.

It's a terrible situation and it's great. For a free browser game, the possibilities on offer are genuinely pretty impressive. How you choose to (try to) prevent the Nazis' rise to power is up to you. Do you channel every last Reichsmark into your associated paramilitary wing, the Reichsbanner? Do you go all-in on winning elections (and if you do, which voters do you target and how)? Do you try to bury the hatchet with the Communist Party and present a united front against fascism? Or the reverse: Do you say the far-left is just as much a threat as the far-right and try to take everyone on at once?

I lost more time than I care to admit to this thing yesterday, which is why I'm currently writing this article through a slightly sleep-deprived haze. Sorry to say it, but I never truly succeeded in stopping the fascists. The best I did was plunge the country into a stalemated civil war after getting Ernst Thälmann elected. Sorry, Germany. Maybe on my next run?

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.