I picked up Valiant Hearts: The Great War back when it was available for free on Xbox Gold back in 2015. It is now 2017 and I have finally made it onto its penultimate chapter. This is definitely not a reflection on the quality of the game. I have just not put much time into sitting down and playing it. After all, it had to take a back seat when games like Fallout 4 or the Witcher 3 commanded my attention. This is purely down to the spare time I have had to play games in the past few years.
Valiant Hearts: The Great War is, as signified by its title, a game full of heart. Set during World War I, it focuses on four characters each with different roles. You get to play as a French man (Emile), an American soldier (Freddie), a German man (Karl) and a nurse from Belgium (Anna). Throughout you get to explore the world as each person but also get the opportunity to complete sections with multiple characters. A big plus to all of this is that a dog named Walt also accompanies you on some of your journey. Everyone loves a canine companion.
Inspired by real life World War I letters, Valiant Hearts gives a history lesson in an interactive and engaging way. As you progress in the game you are rewarded with short bits of information about many aspects of WWI. Of course you can always skip reading these but it really would to a disservice to the game. By providing real life context to its setting, Valiant Hearts packs a truly emotional punch.
It is typical of most shorter games, in that it has a strong puzzle element. This is kept fresh as each character has unique abilities on top of the basic pull lever, climb, etc. For example, Emile has a shovel for digging, Freddie can cut barbed wire and Walt is able to climb into small spaces and fetch items. Many sections require you to use all three characters with Walt being the vehicle in which you switch between the human characters.
Sometimes you can figure things out at your leisure but there are also sections in which quick thinking is needed. Often when you are on the battlefield you have to run to avoid missiles and bombs while also clearing a path. The nurse Anna also has a unique segment in which you have to heal the injured through a series of quick time event sections.
Overall, Valiant Hearts: The Great War is a superbly engaging game. It keeps you on your toes and also provides you with easy to follow historical facts. As you get to explore the relationships between the characters, it is hard not to feel for their situations. Despite the atrocities of WWI, Valiant Hearts: The Great War is great reminder of how resilient, brave and hopeful the human race can be.