‘Valiant Hearts: The Great War’ for iPad (Review)

On the centenary of World War I, we can expect to see all manner of specially-commissioned TV shows, documentaries and movies aplenty commemorating this first truly global conflict in human history. Now, recounting the gruelling and unimaginable slog of trench warfare through historical records, diaries and drama has also entered the app domain, with Valiant Hearts: The Great War, which is coming out for iPad, iPhone and iPod.

Valiant Hearts recounts the major events in the European theatre of World War I, sending the player through some of the Great War’s most pivotal battles, such as the Battle of the Somme and the Battle of the Marne. But instead of taking the obvious and potentially tasteless route of shoving a gun in your hand and sending you on an FPS mission of mad massacre, Valiant Hearts takes another road entirely. Intent on educating the player and humanising the conflict, the player’s mission is taken through a mixture of solving puzzles and sneaking through enemy lines, in order to reunite a German soldier with his lost love. The game features four playable characters in an interlinked storyline, as well as a trusty companion in the form of a loyal Doberman pincher called Walt, just in case it needs any more of an emotional impact.

According to the developer, Ubisoft Montpellier, the plot of the game is based on more than just the surface events at Marne, Somme and elsewhere: «Valiant Hearts is inspired by letters from the First World War and a number of other historical materials,» the company explains. In addition, to this touching human element, the story of the war itself is written to incorporate all the major events and sites of the Western Front. Interwoven into the playing experience is a concise history of World War I, told through animated episodes within the game.

Developed by some of the people behind the Rayman games and Beyond Good And Evil, it’s already been lauded as a thoughtful take on war, and from what we’ve seen so far. Valiant Hearts looks like an artful and timely take on a subject whose human side is too often overlooked in favour of in-your-face violence in game adaptations.

SOLVE YOUR WAY THROUGH

A key feature of Valiant Hearts is that you must solve puzzles and sneak your way past enemies to advance. This includes finding passages past soldiers so they won’t spot you, or operating mechanisms like the series of pipes shown here.

ARTFUL DESIGN

The design of the world of Valiant Hearts takes inspiration from real-life designs and engineering from WWI, and tweaks them for effect, highlighting and emphasising the essentials of each location, be it snowy fields or muddy trenches.

LITTLE HELPER

Fighting against the stereotype of Doberman dogs everywhere is Walt, the loyal companion who binds the four characters’ stories together. You can command him to help, from spotting land mines to operating levers.

EDUCATING YPRES

Bridging the gameplay levels are a series of fact-filled animated episodes that recount the story of WWI, focusing on the Western Front, the brutality of trench warfare and the effect the war had on the people of Europe.

War Horse Interactive Edition

War Horse Interactive EditionThis app delves into the story behind Michael Morpurgo’s famous book. It offers a combined version of the full book text extended excerpts from the stage musical and an interactive journey through the real world events that inspired this equine epic.

Timeline WW1

This thorough app details over 1,500 events of the war, features over 100 videos and film clips, first-hand accounts from soldiers and generals and even poetry from famous war poets of the time. The app’s price is essentially £6.99, because the free version only offers up full functionality for WWI’s first two weeks.

Great War Battlefields of the Western Front

This app should come in handy for any iPhone-wielding, WWI aficionado traveller, as it details locations of events of the Great War all along the Western Front It features photographs, information about each site and an on-the-go historical overview.

The Great War 100

Do you like infographics? Are you interested in WWI? Then you could say that this app has pretty much been custom-made for you. Featuring over 65 infographics on all things World War I, The Great War 100 educates via a more visually appealing representation than pretty much any other WWI app out there.

Games

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