In 2014, Ubisoft launched Valiant Hearts: The Nice Struggle, a sport that stood out by advantage of it being a smaller, extra intimate story amidst its many extra action-oriented brethren. As a substitute of explosive set items and primary characters that doubled as killing machines, the sport focuses on the individuals who discover themselves eternally marked by conflict. 9 years later, Valiant Hearts: Coming House continues the story on cell gadgets completely by Netflix, and it picks up proper the place the earlier story left off. Whereas an absence of difficult gameplay and a brief lifespan might sink different video games, brevity is used to its benefit to make sure the story hits simply as arduous as its predecessor..
Coming House begins in 1917, simply as American troops are coming into the conflict for the primary time. Acquainted faces Freddie and Anna return, together with three new primary characters: James, Freddie’s youthful brother; George, a fighter pilot; and Ernst, a German sailor who, by no fault of his personal, finds himself an unwitting participant within the conflict effort.
The story is instructed throughout 19 scenes cut up into three chapters, which interprets into about 2.5 hours of gameplay. On paper it sounds very quick, however the story is effectively instructed. Not one of the beats really feel like they drag on; from the opening scene Coming House does a exceptional job of being clear-cut with its narrative–even these designed to make the participant really feel uncomfortable. For instance, the very first scene exhibits James’s enlistment expertise, which has him compelled into racially segregated traces with one line receiving weapons and the opposite, James’s line, being given brooms for custodial work. In one other scene, the medic Ana frantically runs round a hospital therapeutic wounded, placing the participant in management as she removes shrapnel from limbs and administers bandages.
That is one among my favourite issues about this sport. There may be neither glory nor glamour in its battle, and triumph comes not from dominating, however merely surviving. Even when a scene lightens the temper, there’s nonetheless a palpable sense of dread that one thing might go improper at any given second. Coming House does simply as properly at portraying these horrors as its predecessor with out reusing any main plot factors.
Whereas the story is one other victory for Valiant Hearts, really taking part in it would not all the time maintain up. I do not suppose the sport is poorly designed; the duties requested of me throughout my playthrough, from a technical standpoint, work very properly outdoors of the occasional misreading of a swipe or faucet command. The issue is the sport’s 19 scenes are steadily easy and typically hardly interactive. Reasonably than obstacles, Coming House typically met me with velocity bumps that require too little effort to really feel partaking.
A part of that minimal effort is as a result of primary management scheme. Most actions could be accomplished with both a swipe or a faucet on the display screen. When holding an merchandise, urgent on the display screen will mean you can purpose and throw it. If there is a heavy object to be pushed, tapping it whereas the character is standing close to it is going to have stated character seize it. It often works, albeit mindlessly. There are moments, nonetheless, the place an upward swipe to climb onto an object is registered as a faucet as an alternative, which makes the character seize onto the thing once more. It is annoying, nevertheless it’s actually not game-breaking.
Some scenes contain strolling by a small Metroidvania-style space on the lookout for particular aims or fixing transient puzzles. Others are extra linear, just like the stealth missions the place you need to watch enemy actions and keep behind cowl to be able to keep away from getting caught. Each every now and then the sport shakes issues up, both by making you pilot George’s aircraft as he avoids obstacles like mortar shells and enemy planes–all of which assault George in sync with the sport’s classical music–or having you faucet to the rhythm of the on-screen band like rudimentary Guitar Hero. None of those sequences is designed to carry gamers up for very lengthy. On this manner, it is easier than its predecessor, however the pacing additionally helps the story, finally.
The sport is not completely linear, although it very almost is. Every mission options hidden gadgets that unlock journal entries depicting real-world occasions and gadgets used in the course of the conflict, which is a welcome returning function from the 2014 sport. Nevertheless, the merchandise placement is very apparent, which makes discovering these trinkets a lot easier than they may very well be. Whereas the thought of hidden gadgets fleshing out the story is sweet, particularly in a sport devoted to sharing a historical past lesson, I’d have appreciated needing to work tougher to search out them.
I by no means anticipated to be taking part in a sequel to Valiant Hearts–much much less taking part in it on cell by Netflix–but after ending Coming House I spotted that cell, and by extension Netflix, does make a very good place to revisit this franchise. The gameplay is simplified in comparison with its predecessor, which does not all the time work within the sport’s favor. Nevertheless, the scene-based construction permits for bite-sized classes whereas on the go, whereas the quick complete completion time permits for marathoning your complete sport if the participant chooses.
When considered by that lens, Valiant Hearts: Coming House is a hit story. It tells an emotionally resonant story by a number of episodes, every with easy gameplay mechanics and an issue degree that is welcoming to many gamers. That being stated, seasoned online game veterans will discover the shortage of substance in gameplay, even when they’re moved by the story being instructed.