E3 2014 – Valiant Hearts hands-on preview


By Zoe Hawkins on Friday, June 13, 2014

Valiant hearts

Time flies when you’re killing Nazis, but before the horrors and gaming cliches of WWII, there was WWI, or the Great War. In the year marking one century since that war started, we finally get a war story from that period that’s worth telling, but is it worth playing?

I’ve been following Valiant Hearts since it was announced. I loved the fact that Ubisoft was looking for actual letters, mementos and other artefacts from the time to bring the game to life. The art style looked brilliant and I was excited to see how the game would shape up – I got to play it, and it’s not exactly the game I was hoping for.

I suppose I should have realised that the gameplay might not be up my alley, but I wasn’t expecting something that was so very different from what I wanted. But let’s start with the good.

The game explores relationships, communication and meaning during a tumultuous time. The Great War was unlike anything that anyone had ever seen before, and thanks to the efficiency of the postal system (after some initial hiccups) most communication was done via letters. Valiant Hearts uses these and other tools to tell the stories of a variety of characters as they struggle to survive one of the deadliest wars, and help bring two characters back together. It is a deeply compelling story, and it might just be enough to carry the game.

The art direction and music is enthralling, making the experience immersive an impressive. The characters are utterly unique and enjoyable, with a dog who ties it all together. I honestly fear for that dog’s life – I can only hope that he survives, and I have a vague hope that he is actually the game’s narrator.

Then there is the gameplay. While the controls are fluid and the game runs easily, it truly reminds me of a point and click. During the demo, I couldn’t advance without making potatoes for the one captain. This involved going into a room, pulling levers and turning wheels until water, fire and potatoes were present in the right order. While it wasn’t particularly difficult to manoeuvre, it did get a bit frustrating at times.

I know that there are fans of the genre who will be overjoys to hear that it resembles a point and click. I am also aware that the game simply wouldn’t work as a shooter, or platformer, or most any other genre. However, it seems to me that the focus is so strongly oriented towards the story and characters that gameplay has somewhat fallen by the wayside.

Of course, that could just be specific characters. One other character that I played during the demo was also using some point and click elements, but was much more active. I can only hope that the variety continues across the character range to mix things up with the gameplay and keep people from finding the game as boring as studying the time period can be.

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Author:Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. I believe people should stop defining themselves and just enjoy playing games, so let's get on with it!
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  • hairyknees

    This game had one of the best trailers of e3 (IMO). I think I will still give it a try, hopefully the story is really good :)

  • hairyknees

    This game had one of the best trailers of e3 (IMO). I think I will still give it a try, hopefully the story is really good :)

  • Jonah Cash

    So how many people got a Destiny invite? I played an hour this morning and I am truly happy!! I have never played a FPS game online, but this is a good place to start me thinks!!

    • CAE9872

      Yeah I got the invite and also played an hour earlier despite work commitments – had to take a look.

      In truth it is VERY Halo and as I said in another post, very Halo Reach. Obviously there are progressions trees, items, clothes, weapons to find, etc but core concept is similar. I enjoyed it, but then I am a massive Halo fan so always knew I would.

      I played about an hour and truth be told, its nothing groundbreaking in any way from what I have played as yet. There are definitely RPG elements in there.

      If you around this weekend we can try and hook up for some co-op – first boss battle would be easier in co-op for example.

      • Jonah Cash

        I am game for a co-op!! I have had my ass handed to me on my own this morning. But when I loaded out to the mission and it said that I am brave to go with the items I chose I knew it would get very tricky!!
        Never ever played Halo, so can’t comment on that. But I think the world will be cool when it starts to fill up an you meet random people everywhere!! Let’s do make a plan!!

        • CAE9872

          I may even take a break from ACIV! I am on usually around 12h00 to 14h00; and then again 18h00 to 20h00 (not tonight I am afraid). In between filled with the fam(dam)ly. If you around will message you.

  • Jonah Cash

    So how many people got a Destiny invite? I played an hour this morning and I am truly happy!! I have never played a FPS game online, but this is a good place to start me thinks!!

  • CAE9872

    Valiant Hearts – point and click? Interesting – I was thinking more Dragons Crown/Metal Slug type gameplay.

  • MrLamprecht

    This looks freaking awesome.

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