Stylish WWI adventuring on iOS
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