From Valiant Hearts' Mixed Messages to Games Beyond Industry

From Valiant Hearts' Mixed Messages to Games Beyond Industry

Hello, Escapist readers! As part of our partnership with curation website Critical Distance, we'll be bringing you a weekly digest of the coolest games criticism, analysis and commentary from around the web. Let's hit it!

First off, Feral Vector's David Hayward takes us on a stroll through the English countryside (right) as he reflects on the one thing really holding back the games industry: the "industry" part.

One of the few games set during World War I, Valiant Hearts: The Great War, is under Andrew Dunn's magnifying lens this week for its simultaneously cartoonish and raw depiction of history:

It's torn between being a serious This Is How It Was telling of WW1, and a ludicrous steampunky romp which plays merry hell with the history it earnestly tries to impart when it's not about fistfighting an evil German baron on top of two ruined tanks in the middle of the Somme's No Man's Land. To say the game is tonally inconsistent is an understatement. It's full-out atonal, right from the main menu screen: a morose soldier and his dog standing in mud and ruins while the sad theme music plays, juxtaposed with a jaunty text strapline about how many collectibles the game has.

It should go without saying, but Dunn's analysis goes further than just the title screen. Check out the entire article before drawing your own conclusions.

At Eurogamer, Tom Bradwell engages with a woman commenter to discuss how that classic derail to defend marginalization in games -- "it's not historically accurate!" -- is fallacious at best.

Lastly, as Bradwell's article relates directly to recent discussions on Assassin's Creed, this History Respawned video with Bob Whitaker interviewing Jessica W. Luther concerning race and the slave trade as depicted in Liberation and Freedom Cry is a nice follow piece. While a bit unfocused, it's a good history lesson.

Want more? Be sure to swing over to Critical Distance to have your fill!

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I think they did an awesome job with Valiant Hearts.. The more cheerful sections of the game managed to make the lows hit harder than if the entire game was just low.

And trust me, making a WW1 game but 100% sad takes little effort. Bringing us the cheerful and happy moments that Ubisoft managed to, that's the hard part.

No offence to anybody what the fuckery happened to this site? First a Competition and then gamefront came from nowhere and now this Critical Distance website.

Not complaining or anything but where is all this coming from? Though, gamefront has always felt a little "shoot 5 ipads for your chance to win an ipad" to me, might be a marketing or PR thing though.

Just asking, did the escapist merge or get bought out or something?

Nikolaz72:
I think they did an awesome job with Valiant Hearts..

It's just too bad they walled it behind uPlay.

I suppose it will just have to be one of those few games where I watch the Let's Plays but then never buy or play for myself.

omega 616:

Just asking, did the escapist merge or get bought out or something?

Escapist got bought out like 2 or 3 years ago my friend. Themis itself got bought out by Alloy Entertainment, who owns Alloy Digital, who are the partners with groups like Smosh. Currently, Alloy Digital is placed as the owners of The Escapist. This happened back when Susan was the Editor in Chief.

Neronium:

omega 616:

Just asking, did the escapist merge or get bought out or something?

Escapist got bought out like 2 or 3 years ago my friend. Themis itself got bought out by Alloy Entertainment, who owns Alloy Digital, who are the partners with groups like Smosh. Currently, Alloy Digital is placed as the owners of The Escapist. This happened back when Susan was the Editor in Chief.

Well, I missed that! So they only just started pushing there wares?

Oh well, the world keeps on turning.

You say 2 or 3 years ago and I check how long I've been here ... Dear god, how time flies! Should be a 5 year badge!

omega 616:

Well, I missed that! So they only just started pushing there wares?

Oh well, the world keeps on turning.

You say 2 or 3 years ago and I check how long I've been here ... Dear god, how time flies! Should be a 5 year badge!

No, there was a time in which Smosh stuff was getting posted a lot in the news on here, and a lot of people didn't like it because it was cluttering up the Featured Content and News Room stuff, so they stopped doing it. I think the contests might be the Escapist's ideas.
Also Omega, we're old! >.<
*joined August 09*

Valiant Hearts would have been less special if its tone was the same throughout. Almost every war movie, book, video game, comic, etc. does things that way. As with the observation that music gets flatter when you take away the variation in volume of different instruments and notes in a song, making everything grim and dark takes away a viewer's sense of surprise when yet another bad thing happens. And maybe it would have been a little less honest, too.

Sometimes things suck. Sometimes something silly happens. Sometimes you (an old French dude) make a new friend. Sometimes your new friend is an awesome black guy and you think he's basically Goddamn Mr. T. And then sometimes your new friend sorta-Mr. T is in danger of choking to death in a very non-heroic way on a tank full of chlorine gas. The game has the capacity to surprise and perhaps even evoke an emotional response, and I respect that.

I have no desire to visit this "critical distance" site with its "coolest" criticism (which looks more like a desperate attempt to be edgy. Hah! Take that criticism, you curdled curds!) Judging by the other comments, i am glad to not be alone there.

Only played the demo of Valiant Hearts and was greatly surprised by how touching it was. Will pick it up on payday definately. Love me some emotional gaming!
It sounds like it sucks to be a PC gamer with this Uplay stuff. On console it is just a lightly rewarded option at best.

Hate to say it I got so bored half way through I quit watching.

How do you think getting people to learn about a subject would work best? This is not aimed really at adults. It's aimed more at a teenage demographic of 12 and older. The game is actually incredibly balanced, getting out swaths of information about how the war happened and each collectible, exploiting the skinner box reinforcement method, is actually an item that teaches you something about the war.

Lice combs, shovels, pieces of shrapnel, letters from soldiers, trench art.

The things you collect are things that mattered. Told in a fun exaggerated story that is more metaphor than anything else. We can't have soldiers literally clawing out their burning eyes scarred with acid and vomiting up blood as their lungs burn from the inside out.

We can however put in a collectible telling you about it. That way you learn without us having to make this an 18+ game.

Nice vid might give them a glance but might be a bit slow for people with a short attention span, bt I agree with the grander argument from what i've seen of the actual games industry and its flaws in being traps in being a cold machine.

I don't think the author of the Valiant Hearts critique has an issue with the story having lighter moments as much as ~how~ they're handled. Seeing as historical accuracy gets left in the dust the moment the tone needs to pick up, while there most assuredly were lighter moments in the real war they could've tapped into.

It's inconsistent in tone and message. It also isn't very balanced in its depictions of the Germans, what with the comically evil Baron and the fact you only ever kill Germans in the game while, when playing as the German you have to go pure stealth as to avoid killing any "good guys". So Valiant Hearts absolutely has problems and right out denying or dismissing them won't be doing anyone any favours because goodness knows we'll be seeing a lot more of these games over the next four years, and then again in 36 years as the centennial of the second World War will be coming up then. So might as well try and iron out the kinks now.

And my opinion on that video will have to come later since I'm on my lunch break at work and as such, have no sound.

I watched Loading Ready Run's very own Cam stream the game. It looked really good, times of light hearted ness to sadness, it didn't really feel very inconsistent too much beyond the title screen. IF there was any one major problem about the game that I noticed was one bug, where if you were trying to use temporary bolt cutters, sometimes they would break without cutting barb wire, getting you stuck till you reload. (And it looks like it supposed to happen too! So you might not even know.)

 

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