MORE ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE THAN THE ACTUAL GAMEPLAY
In an industry where most war games are shooters in some fashion, Valiant Hearts: The Great War stands out. Valiant Hearts is a puzzle adventure game, and by far the most interesting take on a war game I have ever experienced.
The story is touching; it is one of love, loss, friendship, and the fight for survival. A family is forcibly torn apart at the beginning of World War I due to a German man marrying into a French household. The rest of the plot is about the pain and struggle that each of them had to endure to try and get their family back together while fighting for opposite sides in the war.
While this was a great story that shows just how far people will go for love, I found the setting to be much more interesting as a storytelling device. World War I was a bloody mess and it left a horrible scar on the world (particularly Europe). Valiant Hearts shows you just how horrible the war was, but in one of the most artistic and lighthearted ways. If you pay close attention, there are dead bodies everywhere in the game; but this can be overlooked if you are just trying to advance the level. Valiant Hearts shows us how horrible the poison gas was when introduced in the war. It shows us how ridiculous trench warfare was and how stupid military officers were by sending soldiers to their death for a lost cause. World War I was a different time for the world, and Valiant Hearts does a great job at reminding us how gruesome and truly awful it was.
Ubisoft Montpellier really showed off their technical abilities with the UbiArt Framework Engine once again. Valiant Hearts: The Great War is an absolutely beautiful game. This game is just as pretty to look at as the Rayman games have been and even Child of Light, a game released earlier this year. The most significant aspect of the beautiful art style goes back to what I said about the gruesome setting and atmosphere. How can someone make death and destruction look so pretty? That had to be an extremely daunting task for Ubisoft to pull of, but they managed to do it.
Puzzle adventure games normally aren’t the kind of game I am interested in, but given that Valiant Hearts is a history based game I knew I had to give it a shot. I came away extremely pleased with my experience. The gameplay is very similar to Stick it to the Man. What I mean by that is you have to wander around and interact with different people and items throughout the environment in order to find things that will unlock other sections of the map. The gameplay is all about exploration and constantly hunting for the next piece of the puzzle to advance the story.
The only issue I had with some of these puzzles was that they were unbelievable in an otherwise believable experience. Puzzles like throwing grenades through wall-mounted flamethrowers to blow up walls, taking down a zeppelin with an organ, and changing into three different uniforms just to escape an enemy camp all were very nice additions to make the gameplay fun, but just broke the realistic feeling that most of the game had going for it.
The Verdict: 8.1 out of 10
Valiant Hearts: The Great War has a phenomenal story set in a very artistic rendition of one of the most horrific events in world history. It latches on to very likeable characters and follows their struggle to find and save the ones they love. The puzzles are simple and fun, even if they don’t always feel as realistic as the rest of the game. Ubisoft Montpellier did a fantastic job developing this 6-7 hour game, and I recommend everyone take the time to play it. It may not be your Game of the Year, but you will find a touching story, fun puzzles, and a lot of information about World War I that you probably didn’t already know.
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