Valiant Hearts: The Great War / Soldats Inconnus : Mémoires de la Grande Guerre by Ubisoft Montpellier - June, 2014
Available at: Ubisoft GamersGate Steam
This is the story of crossed destinies and a broken love in a world torn apart.
In Valiant Hearts: The Great War™, the lives of all the characters are inextricably drawn together over the course of the game. All of them will try to survive the horror of the trenches, following their faithful canine companion. Friendship, love, sacrifice and tragedy befall each one as they help each other to retain their humanity against the horrors of war.
AN ANIMATED COMIC BOOK ADVENTURE From the green forests of the French countryside to dank trenches and snowy fields, go back through history in this emotional adventure game delivered with a unique tone and art style.
A MIX OF EXPLORATION, ACTION, AND PUZZLES Move into action and help your heroes survive the Great War by solving puzzles or sneaking through enemy lines, and live a touching and comical adventure.
FOLLOW THE STORIES OF THESE VALIANT HEARTS… Lost in the trenches, play each of these characters and help a young German soldier find his love.
…AND THEIR FAITHFUL CANINE COMPANION Send your trusty canine companion through barbwire obstacles and shell holes to solve puzzles or avoid enemies. Rely on him and his sense of smell; he is your best friend!
RELIVE THE GREAT WAR This fictitious story takes you back to famous World War I locations, like Reims or Montfaucon, revisiting historical battles on the Western Front, such as the Battle of the Marne or the Battle of the Somme.
POWERED BY UBIART FRAMEWORK Valiant Hearts: The Great War makes the most of the UbiArt Framework and its motto of Bringing Art to Life. This powerful engine provides the ability to transfer creative concepts and bring them to life in video games.
A TEAM OF SENIOR ARTISTS AT UBISOFT MONTPELLIER Small is beautiful. A small but highly talented team, including audio and art directors from games such as Beyond Good & Evil® and Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie, as well as level designers from Rayman® Origins and Rayman® Legends, helped to create Valiant Hearts: The Great War.
When I came across this tidbit, I realized that I'd seen that garb before -- on a picture of my Great Grandmother:
I called my dad to ask him about it. Grandma had been a volunteer in the Red Cross, and about 16 at the time. She would hand out snacks and smiles; that kind of thing. I did have two Great Grandaunts -- sisters -- who were both nurses during the first World War. Sadly, I can't find the pictures right now.
The game is by Ubisoft, so you'll have to have a Uplay account in order to play the game. A bit of a pain, but worth it if you love a good story!
The screen resolution is adjustable anywhere from 640x480 through 1980x1020, and you can play Windowed if you wish. We have separate sliders for sound effects, music, and brightness, and if you want subtitles, they are NOT the default. Luckily you can adjust the settings at any time. If you're using the keyboard you can rebind the keys to whatever you wish, but the controller buttons are not adjustable. Speaking of which, we have full-controller support on this title.
The game is rich in history, though dosed out in segments small enough to keep one from getting overwhelmed (or bored ) if not a history buff. These tidbits are easily accessible, and while it's not required reading, it surely enriches the story! In addition to the facts that are unlocked as you play, there are 100 collectibles, and each has its own story to tell. We also have a diary with separate entries, which I didn't realize until later on in the game. The diary, like the hints, is accessible through the game menu (hit Esc.)
Speaking of hints, there are multiple modes of play -- regular and veteran. I believe you have to complete regular mode before you can access veteran mode, however. Hints, if you wish to use them, are tiered, and give you a picture of one of the steps you'll need to take to progress in the game.
We play as multiple characters, giving us varied views of the war and its toll. These characters' stories are beautifully weaved together in a touching story. The gameplay is a combination of point-and-click, puzzles, light platforming, and arcade-like action scenes. Anyone looking for a thrilling ride, rife with action and glory might want to look elsewhere, as the compelling story is the driving force behind this game, and it's the story that will keep bringing you back to the game.
The narrator will explain things as we transition, and his voice works beautifully with the story. Our characters' voices, on the other hand, are intentionally garbled -- you don't actually need to understand what they're saying. It may sound strange, but it really does work well. Any person you see who has ' . . . ' over their heads means you need to "talk" to them. You will see what they want or need via images in speech bubbles. It's not terribly hard to figure out what you're supposed to be doing -- most of the time when I was stuck it was because I had missed seeing an exit or some such. :p
I highly highly recommend this game to anyone who loves a good story, with one caveat: Some of the action scenes need to have quick reactions, and I know that some of my friends have issues with this kind of thing. Let me give you an example. This will not be a spoiler as long as you don't watch the whole video -- Just watch the first ten seconds or so:
I had to redo the above-referenced kind of scene more than once, but that is not the part of the game I'm worried about. There are sequences where you have to press buttons quickly in succession, switching around between buttons, and sometimes hitting more than once button at a time. I don't know how well I would have done if I'd been on the keyboard instead of a controller! I can't give you a visual of what I'm talking about without potentially spoiling some of the story, just be warned!
I finished the game in somewhere between four and five hours -- not really certain since I got interrupted a few times. Remember those collectibles I mentioned at the beginning of the review? It turns out that you can replay any part of the game you wish in order to gather all of the collectibles! Go to the Chapters & Collection section of the main menu, and you will be able to see how many items you gathered, and how many you missed for each section. Personally I think it would be better to go back to get some of these rather than grab them as you play, as sometimes they're sitting out in the open during a time when you could easily get killed! It interrupts the flow of the story a bit to stop and examine these things during the action sequences
Valiant Hearts: The Great War is a moving journey that kept me guessing 'til the end, and had me happily learning about the first World War (history is NOT my forte). I really did love playing this game, and recommend checking it out if the above review appeals to you.