Tag Archives: Valiant Hearts

War is about repeatedly killing a man for an Achievement

valiant hearts healing hero gd post

I watched Karl bleed out more than a dozen times before finally saving his life. It is by far not my proudest accomplishment to date as a grown man that plays and enjoys a wide variety of videogames, but it is one that has stuck with me since popping this Achievement in Valiant Hearts: The Great War:

valiant hearts healing hero achievement icon
Healing Hero:
Save Karl for the third time without making any mistakes (60G)

You’re welcome. Also: I’m sorry.

In Chapter 4-5: Saint Mihiel, you’ll be playing as Anna at Emile’s farm. She discovers a badly hurt Karl and immediately goes into nurse mode, which is represented as a…rhythmic quick time event. Not sure how else to describe it. I imagine it’s a bit like playing Guitar Hero, but instead of all the button prompts falling from the top of the screen to the bottom, you are working left to right, along a path emulating something like a heart rate monitor. The desired button presses start out simple, but quickly escalate in variety and amount as you get further into healing Karl’s wounds.

Here’s the rub. The Achievement’s description is not crystal clear, and you have to make it through all three of the healing QTEs without making a mistake for it to work. If you mess up on one of them, your best option is to let Karl bleed out–in other words, purposely miss the button presses until it fails. Thankfully, you don’t have to go back and redo all three instances of the QTE, just the one you goofed. I ended up having to kill Karl a bunch on the third and final QTE, which is naturally the most difficult of the trio. You also do all this to a glorious soundtrack of a child screaming and Karl’s failing heartbeat. Over and over. Yup, it’s brutal for all parties involved.

Fast forward several months from abusing poor, weakened Karl, and I’ve also gone back and found all 100 collectibles in Valiant Hearts: The Great War. Yes, a hundred pieces of actual history, such as urine-soaked rags, periscopes for use in trench fights, and numerous hand-written letters home from soldiers. It turns out that I hadn’t missed that many during my initial playthrough, but in my silly and sometimes too dramatic mind, the act of going back and finding these hidden items seemed like a real arduous task. It was not. I grabbed everything I was missing in a few hours over the holiday weekend, and it was nice to see that the game autosaves the moment you find a collectible, which meant I didn’t have to finish each and every level I dropped into…as that might’ve been too much.

With that, there’s nothing left in Valiant Hearts: The Great War for me to do. That’s fine. I need to begin clearing up storage room on my Xbox One. Yes, already. I do hope to see more unique, small titles like this from Ubisoft. It’s a somber adventure, quite different from a lot of the company’s other output, but the industry needs more unique takes on tough subjects. This could have easily been a quickly forgotten third-person action game or, worse, a lackluster first-person shooter that did what it could with the war’s weapons and tactics (hi, Battlefield 1!). Thankfully, we got something more memorable.

2016 Game Review Haiku, #30 – Valiant Hearts: The Great War

2016 gd games completed valiant hearts

Enter, the Great War
Full of puzzles, trench combat
Disharmonious

Here we go again. Another year of me attempting to produce quality Japanese poetry about the videogames I complete in three syllable-based phases of 5, 7, and 5. I hope you never tire of this because, as far as I can see into the murky darkness–and leap year–that is 2016, I’ll never tire of it either. Perhaps this’ll be the year I finally cross the one hundred mark. Buckle up–it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. Yoi ryokō o.

Valiant Hearts: The Great War can bloom even on a battlefield

valiant hearts gd early impressions

I don’t know much about war, but I suspect I’m more knowledgeable when it comes to details related to World War II than World War I. Mind you, this is not me saying I’m knowledgeable at all. Just more familiar with how things went down from 1939 to 1945. Blame it heavier on popular entertainment media than my limited history school lessons, as I probably absorbed more from things like Band of Brothers and The Saboteur than anything else. As for World War I…well, I know it was one of the deadliest conflicts, with some absolutely terrifying weapons of war used. Like severe mustard gas.

So, naturally, there’s not a plethora of games based on this happy-go-lucky time period, though I did recently puzzle my way through Covert Front‘s alternative take on World War I. Ubisoft’s Valiant Hearts: The Great War is also a puzzle adventure game, released in summer 2014 and developed by Ubisoft Montpellier, and walks the path of being both fun to play and educational. Evidently, the game was inspired by actual letters written during World War I and focuses on four different characters: the Frenchman Emile, his German son-in-law Karl, American soldier Freddie, and Belgian nurse Anna. It’s a heart-twisting story of love and survival, sacrifice and friendship. There’s also a dog you can continuously pet.

Valiant Hearts: The Great War is divided up into four chapters, and each chapter is split into several sections. Most of these sections you to clear an objective in order to progress through the story, like solving environmental puzzles or acquiring specific items related to the situation. Other sections mix the action up, such as surviving heavy gunfire, stealthing past enemies undetected, and, my personal favorite, rhythmic car chase scenarios set to classic songs where you have to avoid obstacles in the road. Also, each of the four characters is able to interact with the world based on who they are, such as Emile shoveling through soft ground, Freddie cutting barbed wires with his shears, and Anna treating patients’ injuries through a mini QTE. When available, the characters can order the dog to carry objects and push levers.

Despite the tone and horrific historical details, I’m really enjoying my time so far in Valiant Hearts: The Great War. It’s got a fantastic, cartoonish art style, and the puzzles have not gotten too complicated to the point where I’d want to throw the controller away. Even if they do, there’s an in-game, timer-based hint system, if you need an extra clue on what to do with the dog or how to sneak by that watchful sniper in the tower. Toss in some relaxing piano tunes for when you are reading up on days past, as well as a soothing narrator, and this is a strangely tranquil gaming experience amidst all the explosions and mortar shells. I’m somewhere in the middle of chapter two currently, so I don’t expect this to last that much longer, but that’s okay. It’s bite-size, but so far quite filling.

Lastly, I keep thinking from its title that Valiant Hearts is somehow related to Vandal Hearts, a PlayStation 1 tactics RPG that I regret trading in back when I was young and dumb (but haven’t written about yet). Alas, the two are no more related than…well, I tried for the longest time to think of some witty war comparison here, but came up empty. Germany and Canada? Meh. If you’ve got a killer line, drop it in the comments.