Valiant Hearts Mini-Review

I have been playing Ubisoft Montpellier’s Valiant Hearts: The Great War. I would definitely recommend it.

Valiant Hearts is an adventure game in the vein of series like the Broken Sword and Monkey Island. It is set in the First World War and follows five characters of various nationalities as they pursue their ambitions and flee from persecution by the powers that be. It improves on the old adventure games in a number of ways.

For one, the puzzles are fairly comprehensible and solvable. About half of them involve pulley systems and it’s generally clear what sort of thing is needed to solve the next step of each puzzle. In addition, there is a hints system that gives increasingly helpful hints after a period of time without progress. This means one never gets properly stuck and one does not feel compelled to look up the next move on the internet, whilst at the same time players hopefully do not become reliant upon hints since there is a time delay.

Second, there is very little dialogue. The player sees the action for him or herself and this allows the game to play out like a silent movie. This makes the characters much more sympathetic than in most games and it solves the problem of characters saying the same thing after a reload after a death, which can be jarring. Outside of cutscenes, speech is accented gibberish, which works surprisingly well.

There are some beautifully choreographed car chases with explosions and movements timed perfectly to dramatic classical music. There’s also an adorable dog, you can read letters characters write to one another, there’s great narration, there is an encyclopaedia for those interested and there are collectibles.

I love it because it’s always engaging. It’s very tight and the story moves at a great pace, whilst acknowledging the history of the time it is set in.

If I have one complaint it is that the little that characters do speak is unnecessary, and at times their words and the narration border on “war is grim” exposition. We know the war is grim. We can see the war is grim. We can come to our own conclusions. But that is a minor complaint and should not put you off the game which is beautiful and charming, has a great sense of humour, and as a whole is very well executed.

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