During E3 then one presentation I was looking forward to was Ubisoft’s, there were some great games revealed and as ever the show ended leaving me feeling very excited about my game collection growing, little did I know that Valiant Hearts would be one of those games that would hold a special place on my virtual gaming shelf.
Valiant Hearts is a side-scrolling adventure that tells the tale of five characters journey through World War One. You begin the game playing as Karl, a German national living in France with his family, only to be deported from France to serve for the German Army. You’ll also play as Karl’s father-law, Emile, who is also enlisted by the French army. Both men have a shared aim of getting back to their family as quickly as possible. As the story unfolds you’ll also play as an American called Freddie, who just reminded me constantly of Mr T and Anna who is a medic helping those in need. There is also a dog who acts a loyal member to everyone and is on hand to help out when needed, he is able to get through small gaps, distract guards and collect items out of reach from humans.
Throughout the game you’ll meet up with certain characters only to be separated again, sometimes geographically while other times you’ll need to solve a puzzle to reunite. I found the puzzles to be well thought out and fun to work out, some were easier than others and there times where you may have retrace your steps to find missing items such as a key or a brick to throw to re-connect a gas pipe. Some puzzles have time limits on them but the majority of them allow you to solve then in your own good time, there are sections of the game where you’ll need to time your runs to avoid gunfire or patrolling soldiers by hiding behind bushes or using your trusty pooch to distract them, there were running sequences that had you trying not to get hit by bombs falling from the sky, markers show on the ground before they land so generally its pretty easy to avoid them.
There are driving sections where you’ll be avoiding grenades and roadblocks, it’s all set to classical music and it was one of my favourite bits of the game. When playing as Anna you will often play a mini game while healing the injured or sick people she comes across, the game involves you hitting a combination of buttons to the patient’s heartbeat, if you hit the right combination all is ok but if you start to miss them you’ll get closer to killing the person you are trying to save, as the game goes on it start to get harder and harder. If you ever find yourself getting stuck on certain puzzles the game provides you with up to three hints that unlock every couple of minutes. I never had to use more than two hints for a puzzle though, as you make your way through the game you will get a better understanding of how certain puzzles work and you’ll won’t need the hints at all.
I love the wonderful presentation of the game, the hand-drawn artwork is beautiful and the audio is cleverly designed, the different characters in the game use a mumbled dialogue but you can still work out their accents as well as what they are saying thanks to visual clues that are a avaliable. They may just be used to point you in the right direction, or show you a certain object that you require to move on, some may feel like they are having their hand held by the game but personally it served as a good reminder as to what I need to be doing.
The story is well told and will take you through a range of emotions while you play, considering how horrible the war was I felt that Ubisoft did a brilliant job of telling the stories of the characters, the game will leave you in suspense and quite possibly tears too.It was all supported by 100 collectibles split across the games four chapters and there were also diary entries that unlocked as you made your way through the game, some of the entries are from the actual soldiers involved in the war which I thought was a brilliant touch. The final 30 mins of the game really gripped me and I thought it ended really well, obviously I won’t spoil it for you.
If you haven’t worked out yet I loved this game, everything about it was well put together, the story was excellent, the presentation was superb and the puzzles were excellent, this is my game of the year so far, it may not stay top come this December but it will easily stay in my top 10, go buy this game now!
Big Thanks to Xbox for the review code.