Tag Archives: Valiant Hearts: The Great War

Review: Valiant Hearts: The Great War

valiant hearts coverValiant Hearts: The Great War (2014)

PS4 / Rated T

Adventure / Educational / Puzzle

Publisher: Ubisoft

Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier Studios


World War I was a really ugly war.  It was the time of rapid advancements in military technology, but that often meant that the men on the front line where the subjects of their tests.  Numerous people, from all sides of the conflict, lost their lives in some of the worst conditions known to man.  We often look at the war in terms of numbers; in terms of how many people died.  What about the individual stories?  What about the individual people who experienced the war first hand?  Valiant Hearts: The Great War tackles the story of five characters and their struggles and triumphs during the time of the First World War

Don’t let the bright and colorful visuals, done beautifully by the UbiArt Framework, fool you into thinking that this is a bright and cheery story, because the story is the complete opposite of cheery.  Yes, the five different characters experience their fair share of triumphs throughout the story, but the struggles and hardships far outweigh the rays of sunshine.  Valiant Hearts: The Great War doesn’t have a happy ending.  It’s not supposed to.

via eggplante.com
via eggplante.com

The game looks into the lives of Emile, Karl, Freddie, Anna, and Walt the dog as they try to retain their humanity amid the terrors and horrors of the war.  Destiny shines upon them all as their stories are interconnected and intertwined as their paths come together.  They all experience some form of friendship, love, sacrifice, and tragedy along the way, some more than others.  It’s a unique story, inspired by the letters written during WWI, and it offers a different and eye-opening perspective to the travesty that was The Great War.

As I mentioned before, the game looks amazing.  Everything is hand drawn via Ubisoft’s crafty artist framework, UbiArt.  The 2D side-scrolling levels pop off the screen with their effective use of color.  It’s a fitting art style for such a game.  The characters don’t talk too much, which just seems right considering the situation that the characters are in.  The story is presented beautifully though use of nice-looking hand drawn cut scenes and a voice narrating the action on the battlefield.

via Techno Buffalo
via Techno Buffalo

The game’s gameplay comes in the form of adventure-style puzzle solving, with some brief sequences of action here and there.  Often times you are on the frontline, moving around picking up items to use for the one or two big puzzles per level.  Nothing was entirely too hard, and the puzzles offered a little bit of challenge.  There were a couple tough puzzles, but there is a well-done hint system that pushes you in the right direction without giving you the outright answer.

I would have liked to see a little more puzzles that offered more of a challenge.  Most of the puzzles were often too easy to solve, and they often involved picking up items here and there, which started to get a little old after a while.  However, I have to commend all of the puzzles for having a purpose.  They all drove the story, whether you were infiltrating enemy territory or reuniting loved ones.

via Vidaextra
via Vidaextra

More action sequences would have also been nice.  The action sequences often consisted of dodging enemy fire by finding cover, sneaking out of POW camps, and taxi missions.  The taxi missions were driving sequences, where you have to dodge different obstacles. The game shines through its adventure-style gameplay, but the action sequences provided a brief change of pace.

The game encourages some exploration in its levels in the form of hidden historical items that are scattered throughout the levels.  These items provide the player with little bits of history about the hundreds of items that were used during the war.  These items were pretty tough to find, with some being hidden in places I would never have thought to look.  It was satisfying to find all of these items at the end of each level.  At the beginning of each level, there are also some historical facts that the player can read on their own time.  I highly recommend taking in all of the history that the game gives you, because it really adds to the experience, and it surprisingly enhanced some elements of the story.

via 3DJuegos
via 3DJuegos

Valiant Hearts: The Great War is a game like no other.  It was a moving experience, one that provides a special and personal look into the darkness that the war brought on the people who were a part of it.  I instantly clung to the characters that the game provided me with, which made the ending a little hard to swallow.  It inspires a lot of emotions and it hits all the right spots.  I can’t think of another war game that really captured the spirit and horror of the war in a better way.

valiant hearts score

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A More Genuine Video Game Award Show

Over the past couple of years, video game award shows have been anything but special, or entertaining for that matter.  They have mostly been a bunch of PR babble and celebrities paid to act like they actually play and enjoy video games.  Spike TV has been the channel that has hosted the video game award shows over the past couple of years, but that was not the case for this year.

Geoff Keighley, a video game journalist of GametrailersTV fame, was the brains behind a new type of award show.  One that was independent, and free from TV.  It would be an award show for the gamers, run by gamers.  The industry would play a big part in them.  Thus, for the first time ever, The Game Awards was brought to life as an internet only broadcast, taking place at the AXIS Theater in Las Vegas.

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Numerous members of the industry, as well as journalists and fans alike, crowded the theater to watch the inaugural year of the award show.  For the first year, the show actually felt genuine, and not fake.  (However, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the audience cheer heard on the live stream was fake).  The Game Awards did a lot of good things, and they took some steps in the right direction.

However, after forty minutes and only one award handed out, you know there are still some problems that hover over the show.  The show had more of an E3 vibe to it than an award show.  There were countless “World Premieres” as developers showed off their newest trailers and sneak at games to come in the future.  There were some cool announcements here and there (including some new ones) but they mostly got tiresome as we hit the later parts of the show.  The show also lasted a whopping three hours.  It was a little on the long side, and their seemed to be a lot of filler that clogged up the show in between.

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With that being said, how about we actually get to some of the stuff that took place during the show…

The ceremony kicked off with a pretty neat musical performance by Koji Kondo, one of the main music composers at Nintendo.  He played the piano as Mario appeared on the big screens behind him.  It was a cool little retro homage to the early days of gaming.  Then Reggie Fils-Aime (the President of Nintendo of America), the crowd favorite, came out to start the show.  He then directed our attention to a video that had Shigeru Miyamoto highlighting some of Nintendo’s biggest releases coming next year, including the likes of Majora’s MaskMario Maker, and Star Fox for the Wii U.  The show was off to a good start.

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Kiefer Sutherland, who was the voice of Snake in the Metal Gear Solid series, came out to introduce the mastermind behind the series, Hideo Kojima.  Sutherland’s presence was actually a nice surprise.  His little talk about where games have come was even better.  Kojima gave us a little sneak peek at the new Metal Gear Online.  The little trailer showed some of the tactical strategies you can employ as a team to carry out your mission.  The game looks beautiful, but the online components don’t seem like they fit the Metal Gear style.

After that, we then got our first award of the night, which went to Trey Parker for Best Performance in a Game.  Trey Parker did a ton of voices for the game South Park Stick of Truth.  The best part about the whole thing was Tim Schafer, the presenter of the award, who cracked some jokes about the fake nature of past video game award shows.  It was actually pretty funny and clever.

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It was then Fullbright, a small independent studio known for their hit game Gone Home, who took the stage to give everybody a surprise teaser for their new game Tacoma.  Coming in 2016, the game looks like it has an retro art-deco atmosphere to it.  If it’s anything like Gone Home, it should be pretty interesting.

Then there were more announcements and sneak peeks, which was slowly becoming the theme of the show.  We got a look at Bloodborne, a PlayStation exclusive RPG that borrows a lot from the Dark Souls games.  We also got an announcement of Banner Saga 2.

Some other highlights of the show included EA’s Peter Moore, who came up to announce Hazelight Studios, a new development team working on a next-gen game.  We got a little teaser, but it only showcased two men on a train car looking off into the distance.  Nothing much, but still intriguing.  We also got a cool laser light musical performance that showcased some old video game music of yore.  It was weird, but a good kind of weird.

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Nintendo was the big winner of the night, taking home three awards by the end.  They won Best Fighting Game for Super Smash Bros for Wii U, Best Developer, as well as Best Sports/Racing Game for Mario Kart 8.  They also ended the show with an exclusive look at the next Legend of Zelda game for the Wii U.  The sneak peek showcased some of the open world traversal features that they were working on, as well as the scope of the game itself.  The game looked pretty, and the fans loved it as well.  Nintendo had a great night at the awards.

Probably one of the best moments of the show was when the Industry Icon award was handed out.  The new award was designed to honor icons in the industry who have put in a lot of work to get them to where they are today.  It was Sierra, the studio behind classics such as Kings Quest, that got the spotlight.  The founders of the studio, Ken Williams and Roberta Williams, received the award.  There was a video that showcased some of the work that the two worked on, featuring some of the history of the studio.  The two really deserved it.  They also brought out some developers working on the revival of the series, aptly named Kings Quest.  They gave us a look at the stylistic 3D re-imagining of the series.  Some thought that this game took the prize for game of the show.

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Some other notable awards included Best Shooter, which surprisingly went to Far Cry 4, Best Indie Game, which went to Shovel Knight, and Best Handheld/Mobile Game, which went to Hearthstone.  However, the award of the show, Game of the Year, was saved for the end.  Geoff Keighley came out on stage and announced the winner, which was Dragon Age Inquisition. The game, which has gotten high praise the past couple of weeks, seemed like a sure lock for the award.

The award show concluded with a nice, and surprisingly intimate, performance from Imagine Dragons.  It turns out that they are pretty big video game fans, as evidence by their performance of some of the music from the Legend of Zelda.  They were also joined by Koji Kondo, who played piano in the background.  Kondo was a good sport through it all, and it was a nice conclusion to the show.

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As I said before, the Video Game Awards 2014 was a big step in the right direction.  The show has rallied a lot of support from the industry, and it seemed like they were free of the PR antics that plagued past shows.  There is still a lot of work that needs to be done however to make it spot on.  Nevertheless, the show was still entertaining after all.  But, I got tired of “World Premiere” by the end of the show.  They need to cut that stuff out.

Here’s the full list of winners from the night:

JURY VOTED

GAME OF THE YEAR: Dragon Age Inquisition

DEVELOPER OF THE YEAR: Nintendo

BEST INDEPENDENT GAME: Shovel Knight

BEST MOBILE/HANDHELD GAME: Hearthstone

BEST NARRATIVE: Valiant Hearts: The Great War

BEST SCORE/SOUNDTRACK: Destiny

BEST PERFORMANCE: Trey Parker as Various Voices, South Park The Stick of Truth

GAMES FOR CHANGE: Valiant Hearts: The Great War

BEST REMASTER: Grand Theft Auto V

BEST SHOOTER: Far Cry 4

BEST ACTION/ADVENTURE: Shadow of Mordor

BEST ROLE PLAYING GAME: Dragon Age Inquisition

BEST FIGHTING GAME: Super Smash Bros Wii U

BEST FAMILY GAME: Mario Kart 8

BEST SPORTS/RACING GAME: Mario Kart 8

BEST ONLINE EXPERIENCE: Destiny

FAN CHOICE

MOST ANTICIPATED GAME: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

ESPORTS PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Matt “NaDeSHoT” Haag

ESPORTS TEAM OF THE YEAR: Ninjas In Pajamas

TRENDING GAMER: TotalBisquit

BEST FAN CREATION: Twitch Plays Pokemon