Valiant Hearts: The Great War

Common Sense Media says

An educational, emotional exploration of World War I.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The game aims to educate players on the Great War and make them sympathize with the people who lived through it by providing accounts of famous battles. It shows the impact the war had on civilians and families and explains the conflict's lasting legacies, both good (it helped lead women toward the right to vote) and bad (millions of families were shattered, and historic cities were laid to ruin).

Positive role models

The lead characters demonstrate courage, sacrifice, loyalty, ingenuity, and determination. They rarely engage in direct combat with the enemy. Rather, their objectives are primarily to survive and help civilians and their fellow soldiers.

Ease of play

Action is composed mostly of puzzles that require players to locate and use various objects within the environment. It's pretty straightforward, and checkpoints are generous. Plus, most puzzles come with one or more hints that become available after a minute or so. 

Violence

Player characters don't engage in much combat themselves, but they're forced to toss the occasional grenade over enemy embankments and fire cannons at distant targets. In one scene, the player's character gets into a nonlethal fistfight with a German baron, and in another he uses a shovel to strike and kill an officer, sending his friends to their deaths on the front line. The dead and dying are everywhere. Bodies litter the battlefields, sometimes stained red with blood. Flies buzz around them. Soldiers and civilians choke on chlorine gas. Screaming is heard throughout the front lines. As a nurse, players work to heal badly injured fighters and even saw off a limb damaged beyond repair (though the act is hidden from view). Save for a few photos from the era, everything in the game is rendered in nonrealistic comic book-style drawings, but the emotional impact is still quite strong.   

Sex

One of the notes that players pick up contains a quote from a handbook issued to soldiers that describes women as a temptation that needs to be avoided.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Soldiers are seen drinking wine and ale. Blocks of text discuss soldiers' alcohol and tobacco consumption, provide statistics on daily rations, and recount tales of how fighters would work to keep their tobacco dry in harsh conditions. One character smokes a pipe. Nurses can be seen administering drugs, including pain suppressants in syringes.

Privacy & safety

No privacy or safety concerns.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Valiant Hearts: The Great War is a game about the First World War. It tells a fictional story about a small group of Allies working together to help one another survive, but it's filled with accurate historical facts and details about the conflict, including vivid accounts of major battles, stories about the suffering of civilians, and descriptions of dozens of authentic and interesting war artifacts. The characters don't often engage in direct combat, preferring instead to spend their time solving contextual puzzles within the environment. But parents should know that players will see fields of dead and bloodied soldiers, hear the screams and moans of wounded combatants, and spend a good deal of time tending to people who've suffered grave injuries. It's all in direct service of the moving narrative and to help players appreciate the scale and horror of the conflict, but it's extremely emotionally affecting.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Social Studies

  • global awareness
  • history
  • timelines

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • solving puzzles

Emotional Development

  • empathy
  • perspective taking

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Beautiful comic book-style art and intuitive controls will draw players into the story, which will further hook them with its compelling characters and tense, dramatic life-and-death scenarios. 

Learning Approach

Kids will learn about the Great War by reading explanatory text, diary entries, and descriptions of artifacts. They'll get a sense of the suffering caused by the war and the bravery of Allied soldiers by exploring the world and meeting its people.

Support

Visual clues are provided for most puzzles, as are hints that provide guidance without giving away solutions. Players in need of additional support likely will have to search online for user-generated guides. 

What kids can learn

Subjects

Social Studies

  • global awareness
  • history
  • timelines

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • solving puzzles

Emotional Development

  • empathy
  • perspective taking

Kids can learn about the First World War and its legacy in this emotional and engaging puzzle game. A mixture of text and authentic pictures from the era provides details about the causes and statistics of the war, documenting the misfortunes of not just soldiers but also cities and civilians caught up in the fray. The game also touches on the major political, social, and technological outcomes of the war (it spawned the safety razor!), as well as more personal details, such as the art that trench soldiers made out of the remains of exploded ordnance. Contextual puzzles, meanwhile, force players to think logically, putting various objects to practical use to overcome environmental obstacles. Valiant Hearts: The Great War will leave players with a better understanding of World War I and its lasting impact on our world.

This Learning Rating review was written by Chad Sapieha

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

Set during the First World War, VALIANT HEARTS: THE GREAT WAR tells the fictional tale of a group of Allied friends trying to survive on the front line. Player-controlled combat plays a relatively minor role in the form of occasional grenade tosses and ladle conks on German helmets. The focus instead is placed on contextual puzzles found within the game's side-scrolling world. Playing as a Belgian nurse tending to wounded soldiers, players must find sources of water and create a makeshift crutch to help patients. As a French conscript, players interact with valves and levers to move objects, rescue trapped civilians, and find ways to trade for goods in the trenches. Whenever a dog is present, players can use him to scoot through narrow openings to retrieve important objects necessary to progress, such as broken switch handles and sticks of dynamite. Through it all, players will read emotionally stirring historical accounts, diary entries, and item descriptions that provide true-to-life facts and insights about a war that claimed more than 11 million lives.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Valiant Hearts: The Great War is that rare game that educates as it entertains. Stuffed between its enjoyable (and not overly challenging) contextual puzzles is a mix of interesting details about the war. Some of these come in the form of important dates and cold hard facts, such as casualty statistics. Other informational tidbits are more emotional, including letters to and from the front lines and details regarding the first soldiers ever to suffer gas attacks. More, still, explain how the war revolutionized the world, from the invention of safety razors to the promotion of women's rights.

Even if players elect to skip over these details (which is entirely possible), they'll undoubtedly be moved -- perhaps to tears -- by the story of a group of friends who risk their lives to help not only one another but also the civilians they encounter, including wounded men on the battlefield, women trapped in destroyed houses, and children crying in city streets clouded by plumes of green gas. It may be emotionally draining, but the characters and their story through this warfare is great enough to keep players going. If nothing else, they'll come away not only with an inkling of the horrors of the Great War but also the courage of those who lived and died in it. And if a game can do that, it has to be doing something right.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the impact of violence in a game like Valiant Hearts. Can violence serve a purpose in games? Can it be edifying rather than simply gratuitous and for the sake of entertainment? 

  • World War I is sometimes overshadowed by World War II, but it resulted in some 11 million deaths and remains one of the darkest chapters of human history. Do you know whether anyone in your family participated? Does your family have any artifacts from the Great War? What have you learned from them?

Game details

Platforms:PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Price:$14.99
Pricing structure:Paid
Available online?Not available online
Developer:UbiSoft
Release date:June 25, 2014
Genre:Puzzle
Topics:History
ESRB rating:T for Violence, Blood, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One)

This review of Valiant Hearts: The Great War was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byAblation October 26, 2014
AGE
12
QUALITY
 
LEARNING

Wow!

Great game teaches you a lot about the world war! It is very depressing though, as you see the suffering and pain of others, and the world. It teaches you that war is not a "Fun" time. War is a time for remorse. You never actually kill anyone in this game. You hit a few German Soldiers on the head with a shovel, but it just knocks them out. But yes it is a very sad game. WARNING SPOILER COMING UP DO NOT READ IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW! In the end your character is executed, by his own forces. As he had hit one of his own commanders on the head with a shovel out of rage, and killed him. The last picture you see in the game, is a field of white crosses stretching on for miles of all who had died. And you see your characters grave, with the dog standing next to it proudly.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Easy to play/use
Adult Written byJEDI micah October 20, 2014
AGE
13
QUALITY
 
LEARNING

Entertaining, Educational, and Emotional!!!

Absolutely a fantastic game! It's a great way to learn more about World War l and to test your puzzle skills! It is also very touching as the story of the characters you play as continue with the game. Some may even cry at some moments (Yeah, it's that touching; even I cried at some moments!). Altogether, this game is definitely a must-have for everyone!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Easy to play/use
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Safety and privacy concerns

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