What’s Valiant Hearts: The Great War all about? Sombre puzzler brings a more thoughtful approach to war

Valiant Hearts The Great War

As we approach the hundredth anniversary of one of the darkest chapters in human history, a humble little 2D puzzle-platformer, Valiant Hearts: The Great War, aims to ensure that not all war-based PS4 games are thoughtless slaughter simulators.

What is Valiant Hearts: The Great War all about?

Valiant Hearts: The Great War follows the intertwining tales of five strangers caught up in the conflict that raged between 1914 and 1918. There’s French POW Emile, Belgian field medic Ana, English pilot George, American volunteer Freddie and German soldier Karl, who has been separated from his love Marie – a girl who just so happens to be Emile’s daughter. And although they don’t know it, these five characters will help the pair find their way back to one another. They also have one other thing in common: each is, at some point, helped by a loving and loyal canine companion.

Aside from providing a much-needed distraction from the mud, blood and chaos of the trenches, the dog helps characters solve the variety of puzzles that make up Valiant Hearts’ core gameplay. For example: in one sequence, Emile and the dog attempt to escape prison by solving a series of physics-based puzzles, pulling levers and pushing carts to counterbalance ramps, pulleys and lifts. In another, more action-packed sequence, American soldier Freddie must use standard-issue wire-cutters and his own ingenuity to sneak past enemy soldiers and blow up a bridge during the First Battle Of The Marne.

Valiant Hearts: The Great WarAlthough the comic-book style artwork makes Valiant Hearts look relatively light-hearted, it’s intended to convey both tragedy and comedy, as battles rage and bodies burn in the background. It’s heavy, heart-breaking stuff, so it’s a welcome feature that, at any point on the PS4 version, you can use the controller’s touchpad to give your doggie a reassuring belly-rub.

Valiant Hearts might be set during The Great War, but it isn’t a game about conflict. It’s a game about the people caught up in the fight, and the personal cost to those who willingly laid down their lives. So, adorable dog aside, we can’t wait to see more.