One of the best all around adventure story games released in the last few years. A mix of a beautifully composed musical score, stellar artwork, great story, impressive puzzles, and real life historical content. This game actually made me think about the collectibles and ponder the historical facts as much as I did the story at times.
Set during World War I (The Great War), Valiant Hearts gives you a look at individuals in war and how this particular group of individuals finds themselves connected. A German man married to a French woman who is forced to go back to Germany and fight. His father-in-law forced to fight for France. An American who befriends the Frenchman. A female doctor that finds herself crossing paths with all of them. Then there is Walt, the war dog, who becomes their ally, friend, and savior at times. While they all may battle for different reasons, countries, or leaders, they all care for one another. They all find ways to help one another overcome struggles, support one another in troubles, and connect to one another as humans rather than enemies.
While the art style is cartoonish, you feel immersed with its very stylized and life-like animation. Faces and body language is done well so that you can see the story without having to hear dialogue. Even most of the speech bubbles are only pictures to give you clues as to how to solve the puzzles, or where you should go. The puzzles that are incorporated into the gameplay are interesting and clever at times. They aren't overly difficult, but a few make you feel like you figured something clever out. They are easy enough to keep frustration low and you focused on the story.
Besides puzzles there are quite a few action sequences. This makes the genre tip a bit away from a point and click adventure as it would seem from the outside. These action sequences aren't hardcore fighting, or anything extremely daunting, but there is a lot of interacting with objects and other people in the game to push it away from a traditional puzzle solving adventure game. You even have a pet dog named Walt that you can have fetch you items, pull levers that you can't do, or have him distract an enemy while you slip in and steal something you need. It adds a nice change to just simply having to solve puzzles in the old fashioned way. You can actually die in the game as well, although it is only about 2 seconds of time lost if you do. Dodging bombs, bullets, and even driving sequences become part of some action sequences that keeps you on your toes and gives certain battle heavy chapters more immersion. Then there is what many may feel is annoying, the doctor rhythm quick time event sequences. They aren't difficult to pass, but can seem annoying to some with slow reactions.
Within the game there are dozens of collectible items that are some of the best collectibles for any game I have ever played. Each chapter has 4-6 of them where you must find items that are pieces of war memorabilia. You will find things from war helmets, dog tags, items that soldiers made themselves to pass time, and even things like bars of soap. Each items carries with it an explanation of its historical uses in the war. You will see some very interesting and thought provoking items here. Sometimes you will find old letters from soldiers to family, or wives. Everything is quite interesting and adds a lot to the overall feel of the time period and the war. Some of these items are even from contest winners who shared things their ancestors had with them during The Great War and were used in the game. All of these are materials and collectibles you will want to read, and find not for some Achievement and completionist ideal, but because they are just that interesting that you want to see what their story is. They put a human face on the war with a bit of a shared humanity and recognition. They make you consider what it was like to be a soldier based on the things they carried, and this is why they are such a great addition. These are items that we can understand because they are simple and we can put them into the context of how they were used while in the battlefield.
On top of all these collectible items you get historical data that will explain the real life battles that you are playing in the game, talk about all aspects of war from the economics, farming, civilian life, military police, and many, many others. All this additional material is fascinating and a phenomenal addition to the game. Some of these items, or histories had me pondering war and just how horrible it must have been as a soldier in these battles. Trench warfare, the weather, barbed wire, the mud. Even the idea that they were fighting in mines underground where enemies would set explosives below them to have them crushed. They really tried to give you a sense of the reality of it in this material.
Valiant Hearts is a complete adventure game that excels in all areas. It is a polished experience with lovely art, a soundtrack worthy of separate purchase, and a “feels” story. It has some of the best collectibles and supporting material of any game I have played. I would recommend this game to any fan of story games. Especially those of you that like to feel some emotion. Point and click gamers should be fine with it, but realize that there will be some action sequences that you may get a bit frustrated with if you don’t have OK reflexes, but I would still give it a chance because it is worth it.
Included are 3 card drops. There are NO Steam Achievements in the game because...this is a uPlay game. It does have uPlay Achievements, but who cares about those. uPlay I had to go online just to paste the CD key in after I bought it, then I put it in offline mode immediately and never had to go back online. The game will start from your Steam Library, although it will launch uPlay before running the game every time. Since I already have about 5 uPlay games I have no issues with it. If you do then either buy it on a console, directly from uPlay, or don't buy it at all. Your loss. ;)