The Average Gamer

Valiant Hearts Gameplay Preview Video

Valiant Hearts Logo
Described as a 2D puzzler, Valiant Hearts: The Great War was one of the most intriguing games announced at Ubisoft’s Digital Day this week. The story follows five characters from different backgrounds affected by the war – English, German, French and American. Their stories will intertwine, with the characters sharing their unique skills to overcome problems together. Just so you know that Ubisoft are bang on-trend, the one thing tying all five characters together throughout the war is a dog.

“It’s a symbol of empathy in the trenches,” said Ubisoft’s IP Development Director Adrian Lacey. “That’s how the dog came around. It wasn’t that he was transporting messages but that the empathy you feel towards an animal – particularly at war – is important and that’s something we wanted to reflect as well.”

Valiant Hearts promises to tell a story focusing on the human sides of the war, from its start in 1914 to the war’s 1918 finish. “One of the first things we said about dealing with World War I was ‘we’re gonna show it from the people who were living the nightmare and we’re not going to pick sides,” said Lacey. “It’s not about the good cop, bad cop. It’s not a black and white thing. ”

“Hundreds of thousands of people were dying over a piece of land. They didn’t know why, they were just getting sent over, so we wanted to take it from that kind of perspective. We really wanted to focus on… Karl was just a young guy who got drafted on the other side. Marie was just a girl who was in love with a guy. Emile was just trying to help him [Karl]. Freddie had his wife killed in the first bombardment of Paris. We really tried to take it from that grassroots level and not try to preconceive politics or judgement.”

The first character in the demo was Emile, a older French man who enlisted after his daughter’s German lover was drafted to the opposing side. Emile was promptly captured by the Germans and at the start of the demo he works as a prisoner of war chef in a German camp during The Battle of Neuve-Chappelle.

Introducing us to the simple game mechanics, Lacey showed Emile going about his day: being shouted at by German soldiers to fetch water for their dog, prodding the three usable items in the kitchen in the right order to boil up a huge vat of wurst and eventually escaping with a helpful canine companion. Finding a femur on the post-bombing battlefield, you can use it to play fetch with the dog, thereby training him for future puzzles and displaying the game’s gallows humour toward the war.

“We don’t necessarily want you crying over your console but there’s an emotional side to World War I so we’re treating it with that emotional context,” explained Lacey. “We’re still trying to keep that [game] fun and the art style allows us to play that black comedy moment.”

Valiant Hearts The Great War - Emile BombingSince Emile isn’t a seasoned war veteran, his game segments tend less toward combat and are more about overcoming obstacles – keeping a plank at a height that allows him to climb up to a higher platform and so on.

Freddie, the second character from the demo (inspired by real-life Corporal Freddie Stowers) gets much more into the action, timing his advance to avoid being mown down by machine guns and throwing grenades to clear blockages in his path.

See how both of these characters work in the live gameplay video below:

Valiant Hearts: The Great War is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC in 2014.