Valiant Hearts: Dogs, war and tragedy

Ubisoft’s artistic take on World War I

Between Valiant Hearts and Child of Light, Ubisoft has definitely found something great with their digital titles built on the UbiArt Engine. Valiant Hearts is pleasant surprise for any gamer wanting a short but satisfying game this summer.

What first drew me in to Valiant Hearts was the brilliant trailer which accurately captures the emotion and environment of the game.

So many feels

Valiant Hearts is set during World War I and covers many of the historic battles you learn of in grade school. Unlike Child of Light (which NerdyCoolers cover in our podcast), the backdrop our heroes are set in is more dark and melancholic. Players assume the role of soldiers and medics, all with deep backstories on why they are involved in the war. The way the narrative is driven, it’s as if you’re watching an animated comic version of HBO’s Band of Brothers.

Valiant Hearts tugs at heartstrings with its great soundtrack, narrative and character development.

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Solve puzzles during the chaos of war

Gameplay in Valiant Hearts is pretty straight forward. Players are asked to solve puzzles, often involving collecting items to open/unlock doors or activating machinery to move to the next zone. One creative twist to puzzle-solving is the addition of a rescue dog, who you can command by holding down a shoulder button and and selecting a subsequent action for him to pick up items off screen or move to certain locations. Each character you use also has specific characteristics and abilities. Soldiers on the front lines are tasked with sneaking by enemy battlements or chasing commanders. They often have mini bosses who you’ll meet up throughout the game. As a medic, a player is given the chance to solve puzzles to be on the other side of the war to heal and save injured soldiers. The juxtaposition of gameplay styles keeps the pace refreshing all while viewing vignettes of everyone’s life during war.

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A history lesson in a game

The thing I enjoyed the most about Valiant Hearts is how much I learned about World War I through the information they include during each level. While the protagonists are a fictional story, everything that takes place is historically accurate. In fact, the game is endorsed and certified by the Mission Centenaire 14-18, a French Commission in charge of the First World War commemorative program. I found myself spending much of the game reading through all of the history notes. In one section, players are preparing for the Battle of Marne and take part in ‘taxis de la Marne’ – a French strategy of enlisting 600 taxis to bring military personnel to the front line. Having that kind of integrated experience really built the authenticity of the stories.

Valiant Hearts is a great game for any gamers who enjoy a captivating story with some light puzzle gameplay. For me, it was a great change of pace from the graphics-heavy, in-your face action AAA titles of late. Playing through it felt like a comic book that I got to enjoy – taking part in the characters lives as they triumphed and struggled through World War I.

Valiant Hearts is produced by Ubisoft. It is available digitally on Xbox Live, PSN and PC Download. Box of tissues not included.

3 comments
cultured
cultured

Definitely want to give this a try when I get a few spare hours. The comic/history lesson comparison makes it sound like they're trying something new and special here. Maybe we can get you on the pod to chat about it more!

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