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Valiant Hearts

 

Part One

If I told you valiant hearts a great war was a game based on world war one, your first instinct would probably be to think it was a shooter, but with good reason, as you could probably count the number of games based on real life wars that aren’t shooters on one hand.

Valiant hearts plays through the perceptionless subject matter even further with a puzzle based adventure, it tends to shy away from violence. the result is a little package filled with brilliant story-telling fun and challenging puzzles, and a distinctive art style.

Valiant heart takes place in 1914 just after France Ferdinand’s assasination, sparking Germany to declare war over Russia. In response, France deports all of it’s German citizens, which is where we meet our first character. In a small French farm, a young man named Karl is forcefully taken from his French wife Marie, and his father in law Emile, who is also drafted in the army to fight the war, only on the French side.

You start the game playing as Omile, but during the war multiple character stories get intwined, as you set off on a journey that is far from what you thought it would be. As you play you’ll meet new characters ranging from An American soldier, to a Belgium medical student, to even a dog. Each character’s story is masterfully told, and enough time is devoted to them so you actually care what happens to them.

Through your travels you’ll solve multiple puzzles ranging from healing wounded soldiers, to saving town folks from gas attacks by the Germans. Some puzzles are quite easy but there a few times you’ll need to look carefully at the environment to figure out what to do. Luckily if you get stuck, there is a hint system that can help you out, but it makes you wait a least a minute before subsequent hints are given. It’s nice to see the option there, but you can usually spend that time looking at your surroundings and figuring out even the harder puzzles for yourself. Quite early on, you’ll meet a dog that follows Emile, and can be used to retrieve items in hard to reach places, or crawl under objects and push switches and levers. And I enjoyed seeing how other characters you play as factor into how the other puzzles are solved, using their unique skills.

The game has a very distinct art style, with warfields being shown as a very grey and colourless wasteland. But the game doesn’t shy away from colour from all the places that you see inbetween, such as the towns in France. The way they used background and foreground elements and lighting in a 2D game can also become quite awe-inspiring. One particular instance of this is when you’re searching the burning remains of a German Zeppelin.

Although there is no dialouge, i really enjoyed the fact that even though the characters mumble when they are trying to communicate, they are still talking in their native language. Between each chapter there is some fantastic naration work, filling you in on the story. And I really enjoyed the soundtrack too, especially when it was used with the gameplay.

Whatever platform you get Valiant Hearts on, I strongly suggest using a controller, the keyboard controls aren’t terrible, however you can find yourself in situations where you’ll need to use up to four keys at once with one hand, which can feel very awkward. You are able to configure them to whatever you like though, so playing with a keyboard is still very much a viable option.

Valiant Hearts: The Great War is a game that uses style and takes the subject matter which you have seen before, and twists it into a way you haven’t. If you want a compelling story with great puzzle elements, I would definitely reccomend this game to you.

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