"Valiant Hearts: The Great War," a new adventure game by a 10-person team at Ubisoft Montpelier, might be the most interesting new thing coming out of the mega-publisher's Digital Days event last week.
I don't mean any disrespect to "Assassin's Creed III: Liberation HD" or "Child of Light," which were also announced at the show. It's just that "Liberation" is an admittedly robust-seeming port of a PS Vita game, and "Child of Light" was let out of the bag last month.
With five protagonists, gorgeous art direction, and a puzzle-solving Rottweiler companion, "Valiant Hearts" takes the day. Here's the game's first trailer:
Each of the five characters has a special ability that will help them traverse the Western Front's labyrinth of trenches, shrapnel, and chlorine gas while helping Karl reunite with his long lost love. The story is partially based on the real-world letters of Felix Chazal, a French soldier during World War I and great-grandfather to "Valiant Hearts" developer Yoan Fanise.
Perhaps in a more combat-oriented game, Karl would have been relegated to enemy solider. "Valiant Hearts" is a love story told through adventure game mechanics, though. Since it doesn't have to deal with the top layer of combat and war-making, "Valiant Hearts" has the room and tools to explore a more character-driven, nationality-agnostic story. I like the idea so far.
The trailer also intimates that not all of "Valiant Hearts"' five protagonists survive until Armistice Day, which could allow for any number of neat story-telling or gameplay mechanics. If the Rottweiler dies, though, we are going to have a capital-P Problem.
Like "Child of Eden," "Valiant Hearts" uses the UbiArt Framework game engine, the in-house Ubisoft tech that led to "Rayman Legends"' butter-smooth animations and distinctive art. Colorful, vibrant downloadable games are becoming A Thing at Ubisoft, and "Rayman"'s success on the Wii U makes "Valiant Hearts"' eShop snub all the more noticeable.
Instead, "Valiant Hearts" is coming to PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One some time next year.
Joseph Leray is a freelance writer from Nashville. Follow him on Twitter