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Why Valiant Hearts is a Mixed Bag and Kim Kardashian Feasts on Your Tears

| 28 Jul 2014 12:09

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!

Let's start with the lady of the hour: Kim Kardashian: Hollywood is a massive moneymaker, poised to bring in millions on the socialite's name alone, and that's provoked quite a bit of discussion. On The Daily Dot, Samantha Allen lauds the game and its central figure for flouting the highly gendered negativity being directed at it:

Kim Kardashian is surfing this wave of male tears all the way to the bank. In a world with limited opportunities for famous women as they age, Kardashian broke the Internet simply by lending her likeness to a single mobile game. And to read Kardashian as a vapid figure who does not deserve her fame is to fundamentally misunderstand the ways in which women exercise agency within the sexist constraints of celebrity culture.

Shifting gears from mobile to console and PC games, in the latest Errant Signal video (above right), Chris Franklin contends that while Valiant Hearts: The Great War is at times successful in striking a balance in gameplay and tone, it ultimately shows no confidence in the story it wants to tell:

[T]here's this whiplash inducing indecision between "Let's make this a moving, powerful game about a small number of characters" and "Let's make this a super fun video game that people want to spend fifteen dollars on" and you never know which direction the next scene's going to go.

[...] The game demonstrates that it's perfectly capable of being maudlin without ever falling into mawkish or manipulative but also without attempting to overreach and deliver a story deeper or more complicated than its lush drawings and simple mechanics can tell. It knows how to be a quiet, somber eulogy those we lost during the Great War punctuated with warmth and humor to remind you why we should mourn and what we lost. It just, for whatever reason, doesn't or can't commit to that vision.

On the subject of a small game's bottom line, Simon Parkin has turned up in The New Statesman to discuss why framing independent game development in terms of financial success is a dead end:

If the incentive that we present to young people for making games is predominantly a financial one [as in Indie Game: The Movie], then we are all the poorer. Video games allow people to express themselves and present the ways in which they experience and interact with the world and its systems in a unique way to others. [...]

This focus on financial gain rather than artistic gain is, arguably, at risk of turning video games into a cultural backwater. The big business side of the industry is characterised by creative conservatism, sure-fire bets based on bankable precedents.

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

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