Valiant Hearts – A belated review

Valiant_Hearts_art

One of the many ways in which we romanticize war is through the medium of video games. For better or for worse over the past ten years (and even further), humanity’s greatest conflicts have been told  through your PC, PlayStation or Xbox. Before the franchise turned into its mother-insulting, child-swearing ways, Call of Duty was one of the best WWII video game franchises, finding the perfect blend between action and storytelling which culminated in an exceptionally immersive experience for the player.

In this golden age of war-themed games, there was one major conflict missing. Despite earning the moniker of “The Great War”, there was a sincere lack of gaming attention focused on the First World War. The game, Valiant Hearts: the Great War, changes this notion.

Valiant Hearts takes you through the lives of four distinct characters, and how their lives intertwine and are ultimately affected by the outbreak of WWI. You will control:

Émile, a French farmer who is drafted into the army and forced to leave his daughter and grandson behind.

Karl, A German living in France, and married to Émile’s daughter Marie, who is deported back to Germany at the start of the war.

Freddie, an American who joins the french army at the start of the war and whose story is fueled by revenge.

Anna, a Belgian veterinarian in training who must rush home from Paris to save her father, a scientist captured by the German Baron Von Dorf ( The game’s main antagonist, other than the war itself).

Along your way you will also enlist the help of a medic dog named Walt , who will help you with various challenges along your journey. You will spend a great part of the game chasing after the Notorious Baron Von Dorf, a German commander who has wrecked havoc on the Western front. As Émile and Karl find themselves on opposite sides of the front, they share a common goal of returning to Anna and the life they once had.

Graphics/Animation

zepplin Valiant hearts

One of the first things players will notice is the distinct art style that comes with this game. As it is a puzzle, side-scrolling, adventure game, the visual medium is pretty important to not only showcase clues, but to immerse the player into the puzzles and game itself. The characters are marked by their apparent lack of eyes, their facial expressions and emotions mainly showcased via their mouth and noses, but it still makes for a very distinct and unique image. The landscapes are beautifully drawn and the camera angles really help to illustrate not only the beautiful animation style, but the horrors and destruction that the characters must endure.

Gameplay

Emile Valiant Hearts

One of the most important things for a puzzle game is to find the right harmony between difficulty and easiness of the puzzles. You want the puzzles to be beatable but you don’t want them to be easy and boring, nor do you want them to be frustratingly difficult. Valiant Hearts definitely has its fair share of interesting and original puzzles, but some of them become slightly too easy and repetitive.

Each character has their own special abilities as well, and you’ll need to use them to figure out the various puzzles or survive the various situations you encounter. Using Walt will also be necessary in several situations and it adds another fun dimension to the game. There are also various chase scenes and action sequences that are a mixture of fun and stress induced adrenaline (You are in a war after all).

As you travel through Western Europe, you will also be searching for collectible items that will offer you historical facts and insights on how life was in the trenches. Additionally, with every new chapter the game will provide you with historical facts pertaining to famous battles, war vehicles, and equipment which are a nice added touch.

Final Reaction

Walt Valiant Hearts

Valiant Hearts is a fun little war game that will provide the player with both an emotional connection to the story and a greater interest in the history of WW1. The game also does a good job of showcasing countries that normally do not appear in war games, as there are several interactions with Morrocan, Canadian and other commonwealth country’s soldiers. If you’re looking for a fun, story-based war game that isn’t too gory and isn’t a first-person shooter, look no further than Valiant Hearts: The Great War.

Pros

  • Great Story and historical contexts
  • Fantastic animation

Cons

  • Puzzles are slightly too easy and become repetitive
  • very little replay to the game

Rating: 4/5 Atoms

4-Atoms

Ubisoft Montpellier’s Valiant Hearts may have been released in 2014, but it is now available for PS+ members to download, free of charge, for the month of March.

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About author

Eric Escaravage
Eric Escaravage 85 posts

Born and raised in the great white north, Eric grew up playing PC games and reading more Archie comics than is humanely possible. Clark Kent look-a-like on an epic quest to play all the retro games he wasn't allowed to as a child!