Valiant Hearts-The Great War Review


By: Brandon Myers @BrandoCalrysian

War is one of the most overused subjects to ever be covered in video games. There are modern, ancient, futuristic, and fantasy war games littering the shelves of your local game store. Valiant Hearts is a war game that takes the road less traveled and is one of only a few to be set during World War I. Valiant Hearts is just that – all heart. It is a touching tale of relationships and survival during one of the most brutal times in history. One of the great ways Valiant Hearts sets itself apart is in its gameplay. It’s a puzzle adventure that’s more interested in how people are affected by the tragic events than recreating the violence.

The first thing you notice about Valiant Hearts is the beautiful hand-drawn visuals. The game runs on Ubisoft’s UbiArt framework and lives up to the standard set by Rayman and Child of Light. From the peace before the war to the bloodied battlefields and trenches, it really felt like I was watching a great animated film. The engine really shines, and while a bit cartoony, it never got in the way of expressing the horrors of war.

The heart of the game is undeniably in your connection with the characters. Set along the borders of France and Germany, the story tells a tale of five protagonists all affected by the war. Each character is in the spotlight at different times, and their personality is brought out by the amazing animation. The game is light on dialogue, but a lot is conveyed by the sounds and expressions the characters make and by the narrator who keeps the story moving.

The gameplay in Valiant Hearts is not what you would expect in a war game, and that’s why I found it so refreshing. The game is an adventure filled with puzzles of varying difficulty. Most of them were fairly easy and it’s clear that the experience is aimed at a more general audience than the hardcore alone. This was perfectly fine with me, as I found the puzzles to be well crafted and satisfying. They are clever and easy enough that they keep the plot moving.

One great thing about the puzzles is the variety. Some involve gathering objects, while others may require you to change outfits. You’ll also try your hand at trench-digging, safe-cracking, patching wounds, and pipefitting. The puzzles all serve the purpose of moving the plot forward, so you never ask yourself why you are doing a certain task.

Valiant Hearts does an amazing job of incorporating many key aspects of World War I throughout the game. From the weapons and vehicles, to the everyday supplies a soldier had with him in the trenches, I really learned a lot about life on the frontline. I particularly enjoyed the historical facts that are presented to you during gameplay. These are optional for those non history buffs, but I found them to really add context to what was going on around me.

Valiant Hearts is a war game more interested in how war affects people than explosions and guns. It tells a tale of friendship, love, and heroism during a time of horror and violence. There’s not much of a challenge or a reason to replay once you’ve finished, but the story alone is worth experiencing.

Rating 3.5 out of 5

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