Valiant Hearts: The Great War Review
Something many people may not know about me is that I struggle with depression. It’s manageable; some days are worse than others. There are days where I don’t even feel like playing video games. For the past month or so, I’ve been feeling like I’m not enjoying video games anymore. Nothing I’ve been playing has held my interest. I was very disappointed with Watch_Dogs; it was very underwhelming after all the hype I surrounded it with. Then, I tried Valiant Hearts: The Great War and snapped back into reality; I truly love video games and that's why I'm trying to make a career out of writing about them. Valiant Hearts opened my eyes again.
I didn’t know much about Valiant Hearts before playing it. I saw a short trailer for it that got me interested, so I decided to try it. I had no idea just how engrossed in it I would become. This is the first game since The Last of Us where I’ve looked at every item I collected and thoroughly read every diary entry. The story is genuinely interesting, even more so because it’s based on true events. It’s an honest game about the harshness and brutality of war.
It doesn’t task you with killing as many people as possible; it forces you to feel something about war itself, and that’s why it’s a game that will always stand out in my mind.
Valiant Hearts follows five characters reluctantly thrown into the horrors of World War I. They all have a unique story to tell, and most of it will break your heart. There’s no sugar-coating any of this; war is brutal, and you get a glimpse into what it was like to fight in World War I. While fighting beside your brothers in arms, many of them won’t make it out alive.
I think my favorite thing about Valiant Hearts is that as you are progressing through the story, you are prompted to read facts about the event that is currently being reenacted in the game. I would strongly encourage anyone who is interested in history to play this game. If I was a history teacher, I would make it a requirement to play this game. It actually taught me a lot about World War I and the horrors those soldiers were exposed to.
As far as gameplay, you will spend most of your time walking around and solving puzzles in order to move forward. The puzzles are fun, and some are pretty challenging (Don’t worry: The game gives you up to three hints if you get stuck). However, what really drives you to keep playing is the stories of Emile, Freddie, Karl, Anna, and Walt (the adorable, helpful dog). There wasn’t one character that I didn’t love and empathize with in Valiant Hearts. The personal diaries for each of the characters (sans Walt for obvious reasons) give you insight into what these characters are feeling and how they’re dealing with the harshness of war.
There wasn't one character that I didn't love and empathize with in Valiant Hearts.
Many people take a quick look at Valiant Hearts and assume it’s an indie game, and I love that. It’s not in indie game by any means; it was developed by one of the biggest game studios in the world. The fact that a big studio like Ubisoft made a game that has the passion and heart of a game that would come out of a small indie studio is really impressive. It’s refreshing to see big name studios making really special little games.
Valiant Hearts was one of the most special games I’ve played in a long time, and it reminded me why I love video games so much. Ubisoft and other studios should make more games like this. I can’t remember the last time I’ve played a game that was so good that I felt I had to give it a round of applause when the credits rolled (Yes, I literally put down the controller, wiped away my tears, and started clapping like a lunatic).
With a story that keeps you hooked until the end, Valiant Hearts is a game that should not be passed up by anyone who enjoys a good narrative. Ultimately, Valiant Hearts is a story about friendship and love, and it's truly beautiful.