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    dkirschner's Valiant Hearts: The Great War (PC)

    [August 8, 2016 10:49:02 AM]
    Excellent game with mostly really high highs but also some pretty low lows.

    Highs: (1) The art and sound are top notch. It's done in some sort of comic book style, and given the (2) historical accuracy of the material, I wouldn't doubt if the style is based on WWI-era comics or artwork. I might be wrong, but again I wouldn't be surprised if the collectibles that you find are actual digitized images of real objects. I know the photos are, but like the letters you can find from soldiers on the front, I bet they are real letters.

    (3) Yall, this is a war game where you never shoot anything. That's pretty cool. You do throw some grenades and get people killed, but (4) killing soldiers is usually an upsetting experience in Valiant Hearts. For example, (5) I had tears in my eyes at the end of the game. I had been sitting on the couch next to my girlfriend playing the last few missions, and as Emile was walking with the officer in leg chains, I told her, in disbelief, how I thought this game was about to end. I was right. So, (6) girlfriend gets satisfaction of watching me cry.

    Some of the scenarios/missions in the game were amazing, especially (7) the ones where you are driving and dodging missiles/avoiding traffic/fighting a boss set to music like the can can. The first one of those I was like "wtf is this" and then I was pretty soon like "this is awesome." I like that I played this so soon after Spec Ops: The Line because it's similar thematically just about war being hell. (8) The story is excellent. I really enjoyed the 5 characters, especially the main character Emile and the dog that joins him. (9) The game does a great job of showing that war is hell, that it tears apart families, creates alliances and social divisions, and destroys the environment. Through the (10) really interesting historical facts, I learned all sorts of things about weapons development in WWI and military culture, as well as how everyday people survived through it all. And despite how profoundly moving the game is, (11) it contains much humor, joy, and whimsy, and in that way reminded me of the film Life is Beautiful.

    Lows: This is sort of a puzzle / point-and-click adventure style game in terms of the actual gameplay. (1) The puzzles for 90% of the game are really simple, which and the longer ones can get monotonous and really drag the progression of the game to a halt. I remember this one in particular where you are trying to advance under enemy fire and you get to a tree with a mine cart hanging from it. You have to break the tree limb to drop the mine cart so you can continue the advance. Well, there is a box of bombs way back at the beginning of the level, and so you have to sloooowly go back to the bomb box to get a bomb and back to the mine cart to toss it in there, three different times to break the limb. And if you get shot, which I did a handful of times, you have to go get the bombs 3 times again. Why not just make me do it once? I get it the idea and doing the action over and over is tedious!

    (2) Oddly, the puzzles at the end of the game jump in difficulty, which is weird because that's when the story is at its most urgent. So the puzzles really throw the pace of the game off. I get the desire to increase the challenge, but it just isn't necessary in the context of the story and given how the puzzles for most of the game are very easy.

    (3) The dialogue in the diaries is cheesy and feels inauthentic juxtaposed to the excellent "historical facts" and history that the game is steeped in. Also, I understand this was made by Ubisoft Montpellier, but there are tons and tons of odd uses of English words. First world problems, right?

    (4) My game has a terrible bug where the "up" key doesn't work when digging. I'm not sure if you can normally dig up, but if I want to dig, say, up and right diagonally, I can't. The game doesn't register the "up" key and so I can only go right. This was really really really irritating because this first became an issue during a part where you have to dig up and right. I couldn't figure out what to do. I died 20 times either suffocating from gas in a tunnel or hitting a buried explosive. I could see that I might be able to dig around the explosive, up and right, but just couldn't do it. I'd die, try again, reload, run around the level, try to get the dog to do something, look at the in-game hint system, but I could not figure it out. So after probably half an hour, I went online to a walkthrough and they all just say to dig around the bomb. So I checked some forums, and lo and behold, some people experience a bug where the game doesn't register the "up" key when digging. You have to go into options and rebind it to another key and then it works fine. Then there are about 5 more times in the game where I had to rebind the "up" key in order to effectively move past obstacles because it doesn't register the default up arrow as up when digging. Really annoying. Not sure why that's not patched.

    So the pros certainly outweigh the cons, and despite quantifying everything, my qualitative evaluation is that this is a must-play game. It's beautiful, has an important presentation of a war and its effect on people, and is generally a joy to play. Plus you learn something and might go read a book or look up more about chlorine gas or early tanks or flamethrowers or whatever on Wikipedia.
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    dkirschner's Valiant Hearts: The Great War (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Thursday 4 August, 2016

    GameLog closed on: Sunday 7 August, 2016

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Historically interesting. War is brutal. Game has whimsical feel as well. --------------- Excellent game, must play.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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