Game of the Month – Valiant Hearts: The Great War

Hey look Game of the Week is back though it has evolved to the next level becoming a monthly segment. I originally had no plans on bringing back this article series anytime soon, though the change did encourage me to bring it back with a new vision instead. My original problem with Game of the Week was the constant need to find a game each week to write about, often these games did mean something to me but other times I was doing it more because I needed something that week. Though now we return as Game of the Month where each month I will shine a spotlight on a game that means something to me that month, and for this month I have chosen to take a look at Valiant Hearts: The Great War. I have tried to avoid any spoilers

I have been meaning to pick up and play this game for months, sadly finances have not allowed it, though thanks to Playstation Plus this month I have finally been given my chance to experience this amazing game. Valiant Hearts: The Great War was released in 2014 which was exactly one hundred years after the beginning of World War 1. Now to put it simply war can be tough topic to play on, usually in a game universe it comes with certain expectations from the players, as well as that due to the dark and brutal history of such an event these types of games can be challenging.

More often than not we are provided with visions of such moments as World War 1 through the likes of shooters. The reasoning behind this is simply because this fits more with the theme of war than any other game genre can, however Valiant Hearts is by no respect a shooter, in fact the only shooter moment there possibly is in the game is you driving a tank and firing a cannon and the latter in more puzzle than anything else with the game indirectly telling you where you need to fire. No Valiant Hearts is not a shooter instead it is a puzzle game that is set during many of World War 1’s most iconic and deadly battles, as well as Prisoner of War camps (or POW if you prefer) and looks at some of the forms of weaponry used in the War including flamethrowers, Zepplins and even gas.

This can really be treated as more of a history lesson than anything else, which is what I respect more. Recently I have been trying to consider what games could be used to educate students or adults that are on consoles, and while I have to look deep into some, this is immediately present as an educational game that should be used in schools to teach students about World War 1. There are several levels in this game but each contains facts to be read detailing the environment, how people were affected, weapons used, casualties from certain battles, it is all really interesting stuff.

Game Wise however this acts as more of a puzzle game with some levels requiring plenty of backtracking forward and backward to find the items required for progression. While you are very rarely actively involved in the war as a soldier the games worlds and environments do paint a very dark but truthful picture of the harsh realities of the war.

I don’t know what it is but even though this is most of the time very simple puzzle solving the game is extremely engaging, the levels are all interesting and it features an amazing story. Maybe that is the case the story of the game has you following five different characters each with their own skills and abilities and even story. The story follows the French farmer Emile, the nurse Anna, the American Freddie, the German Karl and a dog, each character has their own motivation in the war and following their story across each level completing puzzles and seeing the war is part of what makes this great.

However what is much more memorable is the games conclusion, the game is summed up by one of the games protagonists as he faces a fate that many faced during the war, in a particularly tear educing moment. The game ends on a bitter sweet note that is memorable and sums up the amazing but very sad experience of Valiant Hearts and World War 1 without making War look like a good thing.

To finish this is a must play game for everyone from a High School age it is educational and extremely engaging.

Take a listen to the games main menu music it is beautiful.

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