Valiant Hearts: The Great War Review

In the first article in our Valiant Hearts theme I review the game. Please note that this game is the first I have reviewed that I've played on the PS4 and is available on PS+ until the end of March 2015.

First off, Valiant Hearts is beautiful. Sure it doesn't have a natural art-style like a game like Skyrim does, but the style it does have is pretty unique to the game and that in itself is awesome. The game is somewhat like a cartoon strip in the way its drawn and interesting things can be noted from what is shown. For example, eyes on certain characters are only shown at key moments when something huge is happening or it's trying to help the player connect with the characters, which it does very well.
These sad and heart wrenching moments come up fairly often in the story and never failed to make me feel something. While in some games a character dying is an occurrence that happens every so often and no impact is felt - in Valiant Hearts I cared about every single death. Even of people who didn't have voices, didn't have characters that I knew. Hell - on PS4 there's even a trophy for saving your whole platoon in the battle of the Somme. I felt like all these people mattered, and that's testament to the sense togetherness and community that Ubisoft made. I won't spoil the story, but I did nearly cry at the end. It got really moving.
And here we come to the aforementioned story. That amazing beast is something very special, and perhaps holds something different for each person. As somebody with an interest in history (and specifically the intricacies of the two World Wars) Valiant Hearts offers a somewhat more personal look at what may have happened as war began and carried on. One of my main criticisms is that the game only offers a select portion of the war, and not really to the end. However, perhaps (without wanting to go in too deep) this is to show how life didn't always continue until the end of the war, and sometimes it was cut short.

I'll go into why I want a sequel more in a future post, but there is definitely scope and room to fit one in and that could be something easily done for the second World War, or a conflict further back in history.

The main reason I love the story so much is, as I mentioned before, it offers us a glimpse into the lives of four people and their struggles through the war. You feel as though they are real as you live life with them, and help to save others.

In addition to the near perfect story is the perfect length of the game. It would say it took me between six and eight hours to roll the credits on the game, and I think this was about perfect. It meant that the developers didn't have to fill time with boring stuff that wouldn't have fitted and that the puzzles didn't repeat themselves too much.
The game could quite easily be described as a puzzle game, but that leaves so little to be expanded upon. When I think puzzle game I think Candy Crush on iOS and Android - not beautiful story driven experience. That being said the puzzles are really good fun and vary in difficulty from those that can be done within the blink of an eye to those that did-require-a-peak-at-the-hints, but-we-won't-tell-anybody-that. After a while they become more and more predictable and easy to solve simply because you've probably seen it before - just in a slightly different way.

As I mentioned, the game isn't just puzzles. In fact, in blends them in with quick time event type things, running as bombs are dropped on you and even driving a tank (which was pretty cool, and very well done.)
And here we come to one of my main gripes with the game: the narration. No matter how I look at it I don't like it. It was somewhat emotionless and detracted from the story and experience in doing so. While it didn't spoil the game, it did annoy me every time I heard it. I also think it would have made more sense to have British or French accented narrator - rather than American. I can see how this would be different for everybody though and what I may not like, another person my feel really added to their experience.

On a happier note I would just like to say a quick thank you to Ubisoft for allowing this to be made. Ubi seem to be great at letting smaller teams make this kind of game (another example being Child Of Light) and I can't wait to see what comes out next!


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