Valiant Hearts, certainly on paper, seems like a strange concept. A World War I puzzle game played from different characters perspectives in a 2D platforming style. It works incredibly well in not only providing interesting puzzles but also an incredibly engaging story and characters whom you find yourself deeply caring for by the end of the adventure.
The general plot follows characters whom are trying to see it the war with as little fighting as possible. One is a German soldier with A French wife and child, a French cook (who happens to be the German soldier’s Father-in-law), an American who was living in French during the outbreak of war, a young female medic and a faithful dog.
The characters all have separate stories that blend together at times. Their stories are interesting to follow and the conclusion is satisfying and moving.
The game is played in a similar style to any other 2D platformer but this is very much a puzzle game. The puzzles are interesting and varied, growing in difficulty fairly well throughout the plot.
As with any other story based puzzle game the key to its success or failure is the momentum that the player is able to gather whilst playing. Puzzles should provide a challenge but should never slow the pace enough to lose their pace and become bored. Equally a player shouldn’t breeze through everything without need for thought. Momentum is key and I felt that Valiant Hearts got this spot on, for the most part.
The majority of the puzzles are, at times, elaborate delivery missions, taking a sequence of items to characters in the correct order to receive other items and so continue the chain. The dog is used to get to hard to reach places and to pass items between some characters.
There are stealth sequences, an action sequence driving a tank, you save people’s lives as the medic, join troops in battle, explore the trenches and much, much more.
The graphics, though normally not an area I’d make a fuss of in a game, are absolutely beautiful. The art style is amazing. I could watch the characters and animated backgrounds for hours. The detail is incredible, watching troops going “over the top” in the distance whilst you push your own line ahead in the foreground. I would happily have a poster of the game’s characters up in my office.
The weakest parts of the game were the car sections. Several times throughout the game you play through a chase or escape and control a car as it constantly speeds towards to you, dodging enemies from behind and barriers ahead of you. These felt at odds with the rest of the game, adding a change of pace but not quite slotting naturally in.
I had a wonderful time playing Valiant Hearts. It was a wonderful challenge, a great change of pace and its characters and story will stay with me for a long time.
The story and characters are wonderful.
The puzzles are challenging yet achievable
The driving sections
Playing a Valiant Hearts was an experience that will stick with me for quite some time. It was moving, challenging and a wonderful puzzle game.
Visit back soon for my thoughts on using Valiant Hearts as a teaching resource.