• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.

Valiant Hearts: The Great War

Humdinger

Member
Inspired by the "games with soul" thread, I decided to replay Valiant Hearts: The Great War. I'm halfway through at this point.

I am surprised by how emotionally affected I am by the game. The narration and music are beautiful. The principal narrator in particular is great. They do such a fine job of juxtaposing the lighthearted, almost cartoonish characters with the grim historical details of the front -- the gas attacks, trench warfare, dead bodies on barbed wire, the brutality. I feel so sad for those men. I'm a softie for dogs, so I love Walt. And I know how things turn out in the end, so I suppose that adds to the sadness, too.

The game has this really nice mixture of humor and tragedy. That is very hard to pull off well, but they did it. They do a wonderful job of juxtaposing those elements. You're playing a rather simple game with characters who look kind of silly, talk funny, and walk in a goofy way. Then, along the way, they let you see photos of the men fighting the war, letters from soldiers, descriptions of what is going on, and it sinks in.

I remember one section in particular, where you're driving the taxi, dodging other cars, and this circus cancan music is playing. It's just a rollicking good time. Then immediately what follows that is a scene of men dying in gas warfare, along with the historical details. It's jarring and very effective. Whoever was in charge of this production knew what they were doing.

The gameplay isn't action-packed, but it's enjoyable. It's not too challenging. You rarely get stuck, and there are hints available if you do. Save points are frequent, so if you die, you don't lose much progress.

The story is really well told. Characters are memorable. Music and narration is spot on. It all comes together into one of the best games I've played in a long time. I'm glad I took the time to revisit it. It definitely deserved a replay.


 
Last edited:

bender

What time is it?
I finished this game but don't remember much about it beyond feeling the concept quickly outwore its' welcome.
 

Humdinger

Member
I disagree with the comment about it being pretentious. I think it's the opposite. It's very understated. It underplays its themes. It covers them in lightheartedness and humor. That adds adds to its effectiveness.
 
Inspired by the "games with soul" thread, I decided to replay Valiant Hearts: The Great War. I'm halfway through at this point.

I am surprised by how emotionally affected I am by the game. The narration and music are beautiful. The principal narrator in particular is great. They do such a fine job of juxtaposing the lighthearted, almost cartoonish characters with the grim historical details of the front -- the gas attacks, trench warfare, dead bodies on barbed wire, the brutality. I feel so sad for those men. I'm a softie for dogs, so I love Walt. And I know how things turn out in the end, so I suppose that adds to the sadness, too.

The game has this really nice mixture of humor and tragedy. That is very hard to pull off well, but they did it. They do a wonderful job of juxtaposing those elements. You're playing a rather simple game with characters who look kind of silly, talk funny, and walk in a goofy way. Then, along the way, they let you see photos of the men fighting the war, letters from soldiers, descriptions of what is going on, and it sinks in.

I remember one section in particular, where you're driving the taxi, dodging other cars, and this circus cancan music is playing. It's just a rollicking good time. Then immediately what follows that is a scene of men dying in gas warfare, along with the historical details. It's jarring and very effective. Whoever was in charge of this production knew what they were doing.

The gameplay isn't action-packed, but it's enjoyable. It's not too challenging. You rarely get stuck, and there are hints available if you do. Save points are frequent, so if you die, you don't lose much progress.

The story is really well told. Characters are memorable. Music and narration is spot on. It all comes together into one of the best games I've played in a long time. I'm glad I took the time to revisit it. It definitely deserved a replay.


The game is fantastic in every way. Probably one of my favorite smaller scale games I've ever played. If you haven't yet, and want to experience another emotional journey, check out "Brothers". The controls feel awkward at first, but after about an hour you don't think about it.
 

gradient

Resident Cheap Arse
It's next on my play list.

Heard great things so bought the Child of Light / Valiant Hearts double pack for the Switch. Hoping that it lives up to my mildly tempered expectations.
 

Humdinger

Member
The game is fantastic in every way. Probably one of my favorite smaller scale games I've ever played. If you haven't yet, and want to experience another emotional journey, check out "Brothers". The controls feel awkward at first, but after about an hour you don't think about it.

Yeah, I enjoyed that one a lot, too. I replayed it once already, or else I'd go back a third time (and still may, since it's been a while).
 

Humdinger

Member
Child of Light and the latest Rayman games all use the UbiArt engine.
Superb stuff.

Thanks. I played and enjoyed Child of Light. I've never gotten into Rayman games -- I'm not much for platformers, and Rayman games seem to be on the more challenging end of the spectrum -- but it's interesting to hear that they come from the same studio.
 

manfestival

Member
Reminds me... I played the game. Got pretty far and then it glitched out not allowing me to progress at all. Want to reinstall it on my ps4 and see what happens
 
Great for the historical nuggets and further info that were integrated in the game.

And some terrible gameplay (match heartbeat mini-game, run to dodge the falling bombs sequences).

Overall, a decent effort, that made me learn a few historical stuff I was not aware of and also triggered my curiosity to research more details. But not replayable for me by any stretch.
 

nemiroff

Gold Member
It's a worthwhile experience despite a couple of annoying gameplay flaws. It has an atmosphere to it, an emotional one, and I like that.
 

Humdinger

Member
Great for the historical nuggets and further info that were integrated in the game.

And some terrible gameplay (match heartbeat mini-game, run to dodge the falling bombs sequences).

Hm. I haven't found those to be a problem. The heartbeat mini game is very forgiving. I screw up and still get through on the first try every time. Escaping the bombs is easy too, since they show you exactly where and when each one is landing. Even if you mess up and go kablooey, you just try again without losing progress. No big deal.

I have gotten a little impatient with some of the more complex puzzles -- the ones that require multiple steps (solve A to solve B to solve C to solve D) -- but I always manage to get through them without too much angst. I've consulted a hint or two, and that's helped.

I agree that the gameplay is not the star of the game, though. I find it enjoyable enough, but I wouldn't replay the game for the gameplay. It's the story, narration, music, art style, and historical backdrop that makes it a standout.
 

Laieon

Member
This was my GOTY of 2014.

I wish Ubisoft would bring back their UbiArt games, because Valiant Hearts was incredible and while I didn't like Child of Light as much, at least they were trying something different.

It reminds me a lot of The Last of Us 1 or Telltale's the Walking Dead in that the gameplay isn't great, but it's worth playing for the story and characters (I didn't include TLOU II in that list, because I think it's the best third person shooter I've ever played, the gameplay was fantastic).
 
Last edited:

OneMoreDay

Neo Member
Huh, I played this no more than a couple weeks ago. The comic-book-like artstyle was the high point for me. The story didn't hit me that hard, but they seldom do. The length of the game was perfect.
 
Hm. I haven't found those to be a problem. The heartbeat mini game is very forgiving. I screw up and still get through on the first try every time. Escaping the bombs is easy too, since they show you exactly where and when each one is landing. Even if you mess up and go kablooey, you just try again without losing progress. No big deal.
The heart beat mini-game was introduced somewhat late into the game, and at least on PC, it was not obvious what you should do right away (it involved using keys that you might not had used up to that point and there were no prompts). I found it also to be a stupid mini-game but not as stupid as...

the run-to-avoid-falling-bombs sequence. It's not that it was hard. It wasn't. I had an issue with this trivialization of an air strike bombing and which was conflicting with the atmosphere/mood/seriousness that the story and premise were going for.
 
Last edited:

Humdinger

Member
the run-to-avoid-falling-bombs sequence. It's not that it was hard. It wasn't. I had an issue with this trivialization of an air strike bombing and which was conflicting with the atmosphere/mood/seriousness that the story and premise were going for.

Everyone has their own reactions, and that's fine. I didn't see it that way at all, though -- as a "trivialization of an air strike" -- any more than, for example, the sequences with the crazy German zeppelin commander were a "trivialization" of zeppelin combat, the crazy halftrack fights were trivializations of tank combat, the looney car sequences were trivializations of troop transport, etc. I could keep going on with examples. You could (mis)characterize the entire game as a trivialization of WWI, if you wanted to, but I think you'd be missing the u-boat (that's a two-fer: bad pun + wrong war).

I disagree that the game intends to have a serious atmosphere/mood. It does, but that's only half of what it is aiming for. The game is also very lighthearted and goofy.

That was the point I was making above, about how the game juxtaposes light and dark, heavy and serious, tragedy and humor, pathos and looney-tunes. If you just think the game is trying to tell a serious, somber story about WWI, you're missing half of what the game is doing. The way they handle the bomb drops is no different than the way they handle many other things in the game -- with a light, almost silly, cartoonish style.

It's really a challenge, to pull that mix off well. I think it's testament to this team's creativity and skill, that they were able to do it.
 
Last edited:

Fbh

Gold Member
Really enjoyed this game.
And that damn ending is the closest a game has gotten me to shed a tear. I think the fact real people actually went through shit like that makes it a lot more impactful.

This alongside Rayman Legends and Mario Rabbids are a reminder that the people at Ubisoft could make good stuff if they were allowed to make things other than generic open worlds.
 
Everyone has their own reactions, and that's fine. I didn't see it that way at all, though -- as a "trivialization of an air strike" -- any more than, for example, the sequences with the crazy German zeppelin commander were a "trivialization" of zeppelin combat, the crazy halftrack fights were trivializations of tank combat, the looney car sequences were trivializations of troop transport, etc. I could keep going on with examples. You could (mis)characterize the entire game as a trivialization of WWI, if you wanted to, but I think you'd be missing the u-boat (that's a two-fer: bad pun + wrong war).
Right, yeah, the issue I had was with all of the gameplay that involved eg. avoiding the shadow of falling bombs. It's been quite a few years I played through, so I only had few examples off the top of my head.

I didn't have the same issue with the quiet moments of the gameplay or get quite the same mood killer effect from other action sequences. It's of course a personal taste kind of thing.

I do remember looking forward to the game after the E3 trailer for it, which was quite impressive

and then get an early "why the hell did they inject this?" reaction. early on. about the gameplay.

Still, the game is a decent effort and refreshing despite the specific gameplay stuff that annoyed me.
 

rahuljx

Member
Such an emotionally moving game. Exceptional story-telling and while it's an easy game to overlook a masterpiece in my eyes.
 

Humdinger

Member

Kind of woke isn't it? My best friend is black, and it was nice of them to let me know his wife was Caucasian (even though I fail to see what context that had in the game.)

I even had to come to his defense, from the "racists?" French troops (Yes, they were all Caucasian) that were picking on him! I'm not kidding!

Nice artwork, and it's kind of puzzle oriented in it's actions. Not a lot of fun, but intriguing.

Will "play/experience" some more tonight, and lets see if my automatic Caucasian racist ass can accept the enlightenment that Ubisoft is trying to foster on me.

"Woke"? That didn't even occur to me. Tbh, I didn't even recognize that Eddie was black. I thought he just had darker toned skin. Not that it matters. I don't see pairing a white guy with a black guy as "woke." I never felt (as you did) that Ubisoft was being critical of white people.

To be sure, the game is inclusive, but I didn't inclusiveness is "woke." For example, they mention the involvement of various subgroups in the war -- women, Muslims, Canadians, dogs, etc. But being inclusive isn't being "woke." I'd elaborate, but I don't want to stray into politics.
 
Last edited:

Humdinger

Member
I finished the game a few moments ago. I got very sad at the ending. Without spoiling anything, I remembered what was going to happen, but not why or how, if that makes sense.

I loved the game. I could nitpick here and there, but I don't feel like it. I feel like expressing appreciation that games like this get made, even if it's only once in a generation. I think I enjoyed it even more the second time through.
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom