Valiant Hearts

Stylish WWI ad­ven­tur­ing on iOS

Mac Format - - CONTENTS - £2.99 De­vel­oper Ubisoft, Works with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch Ver­sion 1.0.3 Age 12+

This episodic 2D ad­ven­ture game, set dur­ing World War I, is stylish enough to draw in those who pre­fer other gen­res.

Valiant Hearts tells a story of friend­ship in wartime, with hand­drawn char­ac­ters com­mu­ni­cat­ing through ges­tures and speech bub­bles. Un­for­tu­nately, the mes­sage is di­luted by the me­chan­ics – much of what you do feels at log­ger­heads with the theme.

Valiant Hearts draws straight from the ad­ven­ture game hand­book, with plenty of locked doors and bro­ken levers. Some scenes feel ac­cu­rate – sneak­ing past pa­trolling sol­diers – but many are in­con­gru­ous. Ve­hi­cle sec­tions are par­tic­u­larly jar­ring; in them you dodge pro­jec­tiles and mines that ap­pear in time to jaunty clas­si­cal mu­sic. It’s fun, but triv­ial.

Over­rid­ing all of that is an almost of­fen­sive ap­proach to death. If one of your char­ac­ters dies, you get to try again, un­like any fallen sol­diers and civil­ians be­side you. En­e­mies, on the other hand, flee rather than fall. This sug­gests a game that wants to show the mis­ery of death with­out hav­ing to ques­tion the moral­ity of killing.

With col­lectable his­tor­i­cal arte­facts, this could have been an ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence for a broader au­di­ence, but it re­lies too much on gamer logic, and the touch con­trols are frus­trat­ingly fid­dly. De­spite its prob­lems, how­ever, Valiant Hearts is a wel­come change from the firstper­son shooter ap­proach to war sto­ries – will more games at­tempt this more per­sonal per­spec­tive in fu­ture? Jor­dan Erica Web­ber

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