Valiant Hearts: The Great War

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Title:  Valiant Hearts: The Great War
Developer:  Ubisoft Montpellier
Publisher:  Ubisoft Montpellier
Website:https://www.ubisoft.com/en-us/game/valiant-hearts/
Genre:  Adventure, Platformer, Education
Platform:  Nintendo Switch
Audience:  Teen – Blood, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, Violence
Release Date:  08/11/2018
Price:  £13.49 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this game.

What the Developers say

In Valiant Hearts: The Great War®, the lives of all the characters are inextricably drawn together over the course of the game. Friendship, love, sacrifice, and tragedy befall each one as they help one another retain their humanity against the horrors of war.

AN ANIMATED COMIC BOOK ADVENTURE
Explore the highly stylized world as you experience Valiant Hearts: The Great War.

EXPLORATION, PUZZLES, AND ACTION
Sneak your way behind enemy lines and solve puzzles as you try to survive.

RELIVE HISTORY
Revisit historical battles along the Western Front and see famous locations from World War I.

UBIART FRAMEWORK ENGINE
See artists’ work brought to life through stunning visuals powered by the UbiArt Framework Engine. Choose your favorite control mode and experience the game with either a Joy-Con controller or the touch screen.

Introduction

From the very moment a fellow Twitter gamer shared the trailer with me, I knew I had to play ‘Valiant Hearts.’ Blending beautiful visuals with a heart-wrenching subject matter and a deeply moving soundtrack, it seemed like the developers, Ubisoft Montpellier, had created a game specifically for me. With high hopes on a cool autumnal evening, I dived straight in. Read on to find out whether my expectations were matched in this Rapid Review of ‘Valiant Hearts: The Great War.’

Best described as a comic book adventure, ‘Valiant Hearts’ has you taking on the role of a number of different characters whose stories and experiences of the war between 1914 and 1918 have been carefully scripted. Be it a French farmer called Emile, to a German soldier called Karl, and a host of characters between, they each have their own personal mission which have been intertwined as the game moves through its four chapters, with devastating effect.

Looks and Sounds

Touched upon in the opening stages of this review, the trailer left me in no doubt that Ubisoft had the ability to create something special with this game where the audio and visuals were concerned. It is safe to say they do not disappoint. The beauty of the game is in the landscapes, with each scene having been exceptionally well detailed. Each level has been composed of two elements, the moving backgrounds and the area that you traverse with your playable character. This tactic has been employed a lot in recent months, and it serves to create tension and atmosphere extremely well here.

The moving backgrounds regularly showcase the terrors of war, with soldiers roaming no man’s land and bombs showering down upon them. The more ‘playable’ parts are equally as gorgeous, including many intricate details. Just take the sandbags that make up the trenches: they offer cell-shading, life-like structure and it is hard to determine whether any two sandbags are the same.

With such high hopes before playing, I did start the game concerned that the art style may hinder the games ability to portray such tragic events and the emotion required in a game of this nature may be lost. Fortunately, this concern was unfounded, as the importance, the developers placed on both were intensified through the artistry. Only adding to this is the audio, which exemplifies what can be achieved through excellent sound design.

What I enjoyed most about ‘Valiant Hearts’ was that the moments of quiet were just as powerful as the moments that weren’t – something many games fail to achieve. At this point, it feels pertinent to mention the voice acting which provides the historical elements, progressing the story of these unlikely band of soldiers. The voiceovers were fitting, informative and interesting, and something I looked forward to at each checkpoint within the chapter.

Gameplay and Replayability

Blending puzzle with action, and a healthy helping of education, ‘Valiant Hearts: The Great War’ is an excellent example of doing things well. There is nothing ground-breaking here where gameplay is concerned. However, it delivers on every game mechanic it provides. Be it the puzzle elements, which are regular, well-placed and short, to the stealth elements which never felt forced and were creatively solved.

The inclusion of a small sidekick, in the form of a dog, was also done to significant effect and he supported me throughout the parts requiring stealth with his ability to stay and fetch! With such emphasis placed on these, I regularly forgot that my character was capable of attacking and this was a breath of fresh air in a game that on the surface, would be predominantly about combat. This also allowed for the backstory of each character to be developed believably, as the French farmer rarely picked up a gun to start shooting as this wouldn’t have been in keeping with what was trying to be achieved.

With four chapters on offer, there is a lot of content to be found here for the entry price. I also found myself spending time reading through the diary entries that the characters left along the journey and the ‘Historical Facts and Items’, found in the ‘pause’ menu, which were both informative and harrowing and provided yet more content. Additionally, there are collectables to be garnered during your playthrough, with some of them easily missed, thus providing the potential for multiple playthroughs. I do not see me doing so, as I now know how to solve the puzzles, however, leave it enough time, and turn on ‘Veteran’ mode (no hints), and you may wish to experience the story once more.

For all the positives that have been mentioned, I believe the potential pitfall to ‘Valiant Hearts’ success will be in the gameplay difficulty. I was never stuck on any one particular part for too long, and some of the puzzle elements I completed without even knowing that was what I was doing. I understand why Ubisoft has done this, so as not to distract from the storytelling itself. However, those coming here looking for a title which will challenge their thinking will be sorely mistaken. Treat it as a visual novel with many moving parts, and you won’t go far wrong.

Conclusion

Offering a refreshing take on the depiction of World War in video games, ‘Valiant Hearts: The Great War’ does a truly fantastic job at representing the emotional toll that war can have on those affected. I found the visuals a delight, and the audio well-placed, providing a game that was as entertaining as it was informative. The gameplay itself, although effectively designed, doesn’t offer the level of challenge that many will be looking for. However, this game is all about the story, and what Ubisoft has created allows you to experience that in all its glory.

Rapid Reviews UK Rating

You can purchase Valiant Hearts: The Great War on the Nintendo eShop NOW at the following address: https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/valiant-hearts-the-great-war-switch

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