Valiant Hearts Review
Valiant Hearts Review – Introduction
It seems like every week there is a new game that comes out that is set within the context of a war. Valiant Hearts takes an original look at war, not through combat but through the eyes of the people affected by it. Throughout the four chapters of the game, the affects of war are shown through characters without a gun in their hands. With a gorgeous, hand drawn art style that looks like a moving multilayered comic book and a beautiful soundtrack, Valiant Hearts sets out to accomplish something original and succeeds.
Loads of Heart
The story is told from the perspective of five playable characters during World War I. Emile is a French farmer who gets drafted into the French Army. His daughter Marie stays behind to tend to the farm while her husband Karl, a German citizen, is deported from France and drafted into the German army. Emile meets Freddie, an American soldier, who volunteered for the French army after his wife was killed by the Germans. They run into a Belgian student named Anna who is a nurse during the war.
The story unfolds on the battlefields and in the cities taken over by the Germans and is told through diary entries and narration using motion comic book style cutscenes. As the player progresses through the story, you’ll switch characters to see their differing perspectives. Overall, Valiant Hearts tells a unique story that resonated with me emotionally. I felt for each of the characters, especially Emile and Karl. I did find the German leader to be too over-the-top evil. He didnt feel like a real person in this grounded story with so many other great characters.
Valiant Hearts feels like interactive history and in some ways, it is. Throughout the story, real pictures of World War I are unlocked with commentary to read. I enjoyed learning about the historical context of the characters actions. I learned more about World War I in this game than in any classroom or book. You can tell there was great care and effort put into getting these pictures, relating them to the actions in the game, and honoring the soldiers of World War I.
War is a Puzzle
Without having a gun to shoot, one might ask what is there to do during a World War I game? At its base, Valiant Hearts is a side-scrolling puzzle game. You cut barbed wire for soldiers, hide in bushes and buildings to avoid being seen from the enemy, save people is gassed-out houses, and even fix a shower and find clean socks for the French General. For example, when you find dirty socks, you have to figure out how to wash them and then dry them before giving them to the General.
To get to certain items, you befriend a medical dog who can get into smaller areas. The dog becomes not only a critical piece to progress through each area but you also bond with him by petting him. I really loved the interaction with the dog and how he is used throughout the game. Anna heals soldiers and drives a getaway car. You control her healing abilities through a rhythm-like game, matching the face buttons to the buttons shown on screen. It might not seem like an ideal way to heal someone but it did create a sense of urgency and stress. The driving sequences are from the perspective of the car coming toward the screen. You have to dodge bombs, mines, and debris on the road. The driving sequences felt like tacked-on action sequences and out of place from the other gameplay. All of the other actions related back to the story and the roles each character played within the war.
Valiant Hearts Review – Conclusion
While not groundbreaking, I appreciate that Valiant Hearts tried something different, both with its beautiful art style and thematically. Showing how people are affected by war instead of the normal raining of bullets sets it apart from other games. War isnt just a backdrop, it has human consequence. If more people learn about the sacrifices soldiers make and the price of war then, in my book, Valiant Hearts is a success.
- Fantastic story
- Beautiful graphical style
- Moving musical score
- Driving sequences
- Villain is too exaggerated
- Puzzles aren’t very challenging