Solve puzzles and learn about WWI

WAR STORY: A screenshot of the video game, which is inspired by World War I. It can be played on a computer, PlayStation 3, PS4 and Xbox 360. PHOTO: UBISOFT


    Jul 04, 2014

    Solve puzzles and learn about WWI



    $17.50 (PS4, version tested; PS3); $19.90 (Xbox 360); 14.99 euros (S$25.50, PC)

    Rating: 9/10

    LAST Saturday marked the centennial anniversary of the start of World War I.

    On June 28, 100 years ago, Archduke Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo. His killing led to four years of carnage that left nine million combatants dead, 20 million wounded and seven million missing in action.

    And for every tragedy, there is apparently a video game. With vibrant hand-drawn animation and stirring music, Valiant Hearts: The Great War takes you back in time through an engaging plot involving five protagonists - from France, Germany, Belgium, Britain and the United States - plus a lovable dog.

    The main story centres on a German farmer Karl and his French wife Marie. They live on the French side of the Franco-German border at the time of the assassination.

    Anticipating war, the French are deporting Germans, and Karl is forcibly conscripted into the German army. Soon after that, Marie's father, Emile, is conscripted into the French army.

    When war breaks out, Emile is captured and ends up as a prisoner of war, and the prison camp's potato-peeler-in-chief.

    He escapes to search for his son-in-law and befriends Freddie, a tough US soldier, and an adorable dog named Walt.

    Along the way, they meet Anna, a Belgian nurse whose scientist father is captured by the fictional villain, General Von Dorf, who is building a Zeppelin bomber and other war machines. They also meet George, a British pilot who is not very good at flying.

    While the characters are fictional, the historical backdrop is real.

    The game is a 2-D puzzle in which you play any one of the five characters at a time and you must solve puzzles to advance the game.

    This is no action shooter. If you expect guns and gore, you will be sorely disappointed.

    As the story progresses, key events of the Great War are recounted and the characters get involved in major battles, including the Battle of the Marne (where victory for the Allies kept the Germans from taking Paris and pushed the front line back to the north) and the Battle of Ypres, where the Germans first used chlorine gas on the Allies.

    You will discover items such as the khukri knife, French coins, gas masks, the compass and razor blades, along with interesting information about them.

    Urine-soaked cloth, for instance, was used extensively by soldiers as it prevented poisoning from chlorine gas when placed over the nose and mouth.

    Valiant Hearts: The Great War is a unique game that offers great puzzle-solving opportunities and a deep story amid the backdrop of an important part of history.