Hound Of Love: Valiant Hearts – The Great War

By Adam Smith on June 11th, 2014 at 10:00 am.

Valiant Hearts, an UbiArt game set during the dark days of the First World War, has always seemed like an unusual and interesting proposition. The E3 trailer showed during the company’s big staged event a couple of days ago but I only got round to watching it this morning. My head has been full of noise and my browser has been plagued with a hundred open tabs. Almost everyone I mentioned the trailer to immediately dabbed at their eye, lip trembling, and muttered something about ‘that poor dog, that noble hound’ before excusing themselves. What’s all the fuss about?

Whew. I was absolutely fine until the shot at the end. Jurassic Bark never required the added tragedy of a lost generation to draw a heaving sob out of me.

Whether this ends up playing like a barely-interactive cartoon or has hidden depths, I can’t imagine the time spent with it will feel ill-used. Like Cuphead, it’s a fantastically impressive reclamation of a particular animation style, and I’d probably by Valiant Hearts The Movie Of The Game on Blu-ray. Hopefully Valiant Hearts The Game will be worth a punt as well. Our Nathan had a closer look last year.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a spot of weeping to take care of.

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25 Comments »

  1. honuk says:

    yes, who doesn’t love transparently maudlin trailers. let me just pull out of my copy of dead island here.

    • pollosaurus rex says:

      Your cynicism and world-weariness make you charming and interesting.

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        Gap Gen says:

        They’re right, though, this will probably just turn out to be a WWI zombie shooter.

    • Pop says:

      I’m more of a Gears of War one myself.

      A lot of games have had maudlin trailers to sell chainsawing meat to pumping heavy beats, but a game about the tragedy and toil of WWI surely justifies it.

      • honuk says:

        maudlin is not a state, it is a judgement. nothing “deserves” a maudlin trailer, because to call something maudlin is to criticize it. maudlin affects tragedy rather than producing it, and it exploits reality rather than expounding on it. sentimental WWI dog trailer doesn’t tell us anything, it shows a dog so that we might use the proper reserved tones for its subject matter. emotion does not equal quality, it is often used as an excuse. not every war movie is good. most of them are terrible, even the ones that want you to cry. one day video game writers will understand this.

        • Eight Rooks says:

          Yeah, that’s right; there was absolutely nothing in this trailer beyond LOOK AT THE DOG, LOOK AT THE DEAD MEN, ARE YOU SAD YET, CRY, CRY, CRYYYYYYYYYYYY. Go away, you cynical grognard. (And I say that as someone who wasn’t particularly impressed by Jurassic Bark and thought it was one of the weaker episodes of Futurama.)

        • Pop says:

          My sense is that the trailer does tell us a lot: it tells us primarily about the purpose and feel of the game. Based on it I’m expecting something a lot like War Horse, and at the end we will have a sense of the heroism of the characters and the waste of war. It won’t reflect the realities of war because it seems to already lionise its heroes. In that sense I think the trailer and game will probably be in harmony.

          You are right though: no game play, and it may be that the game gets nowhere near the trailer. And you are right, WWI doesn’t by default deserve such an approach. In fact something that casts its characters in a more human and mundane form would be more interesting. But then again I enjoyed War Horse, and if it’s not too long I’ll enjoy a stirring sentimental game as much as I’ll enjoy shooting exploding barrels.

      • Becalel says:

        As a ‘more of a Gears of War one’, it’s funny you should mention ‘A lot of games have had maudlin trailers to sell chainsawing meat to pumping heavy beats’

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccWrbGEFgI8

        :D

  2. GernauMorat says:

    I hope there is little or no narration in this game, as I reckon it would run the risk of adding cheese and diminishing the intended impact

    • SominiTheCommenter says:

      Woof!

    • Eight Rooks says:

      I could have sworn I read the dialogue was going for a kind of Simlish/Amanita approach, though I can’t see find any article saying that now. Even if true, though, I guess that wouldn’t rule out voiceovers.

      I may have been reading things into Edge’s preview – they really didn’t like the way it shifts from comic nonsense to The Horror, The Horror and back all the time. (Didn’t really put me off – I have no intrinsic objection to telling very serious stories with comic nonsense. Hopefully I don’t end up feeling Ubisoft have screwed it up.)

  3. natendi says:

    I’m really curious what the gameplay will be like, maybe something like Scribblenauts?

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    JamesTheNumberless says:

    I told myself not to watch this at work, but I didn’t listen. Thank God I have hayfever as an excuse to bury my face in a pile of tissues.

  5. Kubrick Stare Nun says:

    It feels strange that, in terms of the launch date, this game is celebrating the start of the war and not it’s end.

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      cpt_freakout says:

      It’s still a videogame, after all. :P

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      JamesTheNumberless says:

      Seems fitting to me, the game is ostensibly celebrating the lives of the individuals who lived during the war, and seems to be set (at least partially) at the start of the war too. It isn’t about winning the war, or commemoration of the dead.

      But probably even more importantly, on a more practical level, how many WW1 games do you think we’re going to see during the next 4 years? If you’re making one it’s best to get yours out early before people start to tire of them.

      • soldant says:

        Probably very few, because you can’t make much of an FPS around sitting in a waterlogged, muddy trench waiting to run into machinegun fire or to be buried in an artillery barrage, or falling ill and dying from disease, for a war that was fought over a mess of reasons that the average soldier probably didn’t even care about anymore. Even the strategy games are horribly depressing.

        Call of Duty: Muddy Warfare isn’t quite as testosterone-pumping as shooting super Nazis who are very clearly the bad guys and more modern, mobile warfare zoom zoom pew pew shader effects bang bang.

        Or something. I don’t even know where I am anymore.

  6. Meneldil says:

    Given the content I’ve seen so far, the game starts at the beginning of the war. French soldiers still wear the dreaded red pant uniform in most screenshots (not in the one above though), and Germans also have the early-war equipement.

    Maybe they intend to make several games?

  7. Shadrach says:

    As long as it doesn’t require Uplay I’m really looking forward to this.

  8. eataTREE says:

    I try not to pay too much attention to Games In Development (too many either never get finished, or simply don’t live up to their early promise when fully realized), but for this one I will make an exception. Can’t wait to see it.

  9. RogerioFM says:

    So, it’s the dog narrating the game?

  10. soldant says:

    Usually my iron heart is totally unmoved by these kinds of things, but this actually got to me. Maybe it’s because World War 1 has a very special significance for me, but whatever it is… I don’t actually think I’d be able to sit through this game if it’s anything like that trailer.