Valiant Hearts: The Great War is a puzzle adventure game, developed and published by Ubisoft, being released in 2014, on PC, PS3, PS4, 360 and Xbox One, and with a further port to Android and IOS. Valiant Hearts is also made by the same team that developed another original IP from Ubisoft, Child of Light.
Gameplay wise, whilst this is a puzzle adventure game, there are no really generic puzzles, and they are only puzzles if you think about it specifically when you are playing. The game takes place during "The Great War", and you play the role of a couple of different characters throughout the story, an American soldier named Freddie, a Belgian Nurse named Anna, a Frenchman named Emile, and his German son-in-law, Karl. All four of these characters have their own story and all cross paths throughout the game. At the core, the game is a side scrolling adventure game, as you have to either find certain items to progress, solve puzzles or defeat bosses. A lot of the game is also revolved around avoiding fire fights with enemies, so using bunkers and trenches to avoid fire is also something you should get used to. Each of the characters also has their own special ability. Anna is able to heal patients via a quick time event; Freddie is able to cut through barbed wire, whilst Emile has a spade which allows him to dig tunnels in the ground to get around certain obstacles.
The graphics in Valiant Hearts are very nice. Whilst they are not high quality ultra-realistic, they do present a nicely drawn out look to the game. These are some of the best 2D graphics I have seen in a game and they really fit the setting well.
Valiant Hearts also has one of the most compelling and interesting stories to be seen in a very long time too. As you play as all four main characters, you learn about their history and how the war is affecting their lives, more than the expected misery. This game will pull on your heart strings and may even bring a tear to your eye at parts. You get attached to all of the characters instantly and will be immersed completely into its world.
This is another game that has a major role in it for a narrator, and most of the story is told through his voice. The main characters in the game, whilst they do speak, they don't speak very much. The story is mostly told through their facial expressions and the narration. The rest of the sound effects are really good too, there are plenty of ambient sounds in each level to really draw you further into the immersion to make you feel like you are actually there in the trenches. A couple of the levels also have some classic musical sound tracks, such as the can-can when you are escaping Paris as Anna.
Valiant Hearts is not a difficult game to complete; all of the puzzles are easy enough that you can work them out without much effort, but not so easy that you can breeze through without any thinking involved. Sometimes the most difficult aspect of the game can be when you are trying to maybe go a little bit too quick for yourself and end up running into bullets when you should really be taking it a little bit slower and hiding in cover. I think if the game had incorporated puzzles which were too difficult, that it may have ruined the immersion of the game if it forced you to look up guides to progress. The fact that even I (someone who is horrendous at puzzle games) was able to finish the game without a walkthrough just shows how easy the game can be.
This games levels are so widely explorable, and there is so much to find and interact with too. You can get some form of dialog out of the majority of the other characters in game, but nothing more than maybe a few special grunts, or speech bubbles with pictures in, which maybe a clue of some form for your puzzle, or something completely unrelated. Each level also has a couple of hidden objects which you can set out to find, these bear no influence on the game play, and are merely there for the complentionists.
Valiant Hearts is split into four chapters, and a full play through of all four chapters took me just under ten hours, for me that is the absolute perfect length for any story driven game, as it allows all of the loose ends to be tied up sufficiently and still leaves you wanting just that little bit more. There are achievements in the game, but are not linked to Steam since this uses uPlay, but you can go off hunting for them too. There is however no reason to play it through for a second time, the story is linear and will not change in anyway depending on how you play.
I didn't have any technical problems whilst playing. The game has full controller support, but also works perfectly well with a keyboard and mouse. I personally went with the controller just for the ease of being able to sit back in my chair and enjoy the story. The game did not drop below 60 fps at any point and has a really nicely built in auto save feature too. Some people may be put off with the need for uPlay to play, however it's not exactly like its intrusive when you are playing, and it’s simply not a major problem; so please don't be put off by the DRM on the game.
I loved this game, it was one of the few games I was able to get fully immersed into and played it from start to finish in one day - I just had to find out the ending of all the characters. I completely and utterly recommend Valiant Hearts to anyone; this is a must play game for me even if you aren't a fan of adventure puzzle games, you will still enjoy it immensely.