Most wartime settings tend to be found in strategy games or first-person shooters, but in 2014 the adventure genre will be getting one of its own in Valiant Hearts: The Great War, from French developer Ubisoft Montpellier.
Many scenes in the game draw inspiration from real letters, and your mission is to follow the lives of five very different characters and their experiences during World War I. From the "green forests of the French countryside, to dank trenches and snowy fields... friendship, love, sacrifice and tragedy befall each one as they help each other to retain their humanity against the horrors of war.” Most of all, this is a story of survival.
The cast includes Emile, a French infantry POW relegated to peeling potatoes for the Germans; Lucky Freddy, an American volunteer with a penchant for danger; Anna, a combat medic; and George, a British pilot with suspect credentials. These four characters all find themselves in some way eventually helping Carl, a young German, lost and alone, who simply wants to return home to his love. It is perhaps the sixth character that will steal this show, however: the faithful canine companion that will lead and assist each of the protagonists on their journey.
Valiant Hearts: The Great War is a very stylistic game. No 3D, no hyper-realism. The game is displayed in a side-scrolling perspective accompanied by beautiful hand-painted artwork, strongly reminiscent of titles like Machinarium. This game could be described as cute if it wasn’t for the violence being portrayed, as the game does not shy away from showing the horrors of war. Matching the stylised world is the choice of dialog, or lack thereof. The majority of the game utilises visual and audio cues to convey meaning, rather than a reliance on scripted dialog.
The game plays largely as a traditional adventure. Expect to see obstacles overcome with scavenged items, in addition to puzzles solved with the unique skillsets of each character. In an interesting twist, the canine is a secondary character who can be ordered by the current protagonist to perform tasks that would be otherwise impossible – with the option of giving him a nice pat afterwards.
Currently Valiant Hearts: The Great War is set to release sometime during 2014 as a download only on PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3 and PS4.