Next two, HERE WE GO:
(Screenshot and its contents belong to Zombie studios- the game’s developer)
In a world where P.T and Outlast are on PS4, and P.T is FREE, how the hell did this get on there? Starting out on PC “Daylight” made its way to PS4 somehow, and I’m here to review it I guess. It’s a horror game in the “Slender” mould- you run around environments in first person lighting up areas with your phone (or you use a glowstick instead because the phone sucks), looking for collectible files that enable you to get a key in the form of a unique item that will let you open the door to the next area. I only know all this because I had to look it up. All the game tells you is “Find remnants” and even that’s written in tiny letters at the bottom of the screen. So you run around a lot, and sometimes someone from an amateur dramatics group who sounds like someone doing a bad impression of Vincent Price makes faux-poetic comments about nothing important in an attempt to sound deep. You are Sarah- a woman who wakes up in an Asylum and rather than trying to leave through the front door (which is blocked, but she could find something to pry it open) ventures deeper into said Asylum and every now and then says words to the effect of “I know someone’s there!” when there isn’t, and gasps when things fall over once in a while. Oh, and also there are witches that pop out to wish you a good evening, and you politely return the sentiment by using a flare to disintegrate them.
Now, I didn’t finish “Daylight” because it’s awful, but I did look up the story, and it turns out that Sarah obviously has a deep, unknown connection to the asylum that she doesn’t know about. That’s pretty much all there is, really. It’s not scary, it’s boring as hell, the voice acting and writing is awful and it seems even more of a rip-off when you consider that P.T IS FREE. FREE. It’s the scariest game I’ve played in years and it’s entirely free.
“Daylight” sucks, don’t buy it.
Valiant Hearts: The Great War
Right then, onto a good game. “Valiant Hearts” gets points right away for being a game set in World War 1 without any combat and running on the UbiArt engine (“Rayman Origins” and “Rayman Legends”. An interesting and under-used setting with an amazing graphics engine? Colour me intrigued, Ubisoft. You know, it’s games like this that make me conflicted about Ubisoft as a company. They make some really shitty decisions, but they do make a lot of good games. They definitely have that over say, EA. Anyway, Valiant Hearts is a character piece- putting you in control of four characters: Emile- an old French man drafted into service, Karl- Emile’s German son-in-law who’s drafted onto the opposite side, Freddie- an African-American man who volunteers to aid the French forces after his wife is killed at his wedding ceremony in France, and Anna- a young, Belgian nurse who helps the other three out while being sent to various fronts to help out the French troops. The story wisely uses WW1 as an all-consuming, monstrous backdrop to the personal trials of each character, and most of the time they’re just trying to stay alive and get back to their families, or in Freddie’s case stay alive and get revenge on the game’s villain- Baron Von Dorff. Von Dorff himself is oddly goofy in a way that feels at odds with the tone- particularly its more serious moments- but he isn’t in it that much, and when he is his scenes are over rather quickly. The way WW1 itself is handled ties into my next point:
“Valiant Hearts” works very well as an educational game. Yeah, you heard me- educational game. Every time you enter a new level, or where otherwise appropriate, the game will give you a little notification that, if you press a button, will give you a nice, condensed guide to where you are and what happened there, relevant to the events of that particular level. Sometimes it’ll just provide context for a battle, other times it will offer supplemental information on supplies and gear. That’s more often handled by the collectibles though- items hidden throughout levels ranging from things like ID tags and gas masks to coffee beans and letters. It’s nice that rather than relegate the historical information to an archive the game splits it up and provides it when and where you need it- it’s really well handled. The only problem here is that there’s quite a lot of reading involved. I didn’t have a problem with it but it’s something to be mindful of.
Gameplay wise it’s a mixed bag (in terms of content, not quality)- mostly you move forwards on a 2-D plane, finding items that lead to new areas or can be swapped for other things, and every now and then mini-games break things up, with the stand-out being sections involving a car avoiding obstacles and bombs that appear in time to music. The gameplay is solid and has a decent hint system, but is nothing particularly outstanding. It serves the story though, and that’s the main thing. A real stand-out is how UbiArt- taking a break from vibrant, colourful environments to render the muted tones of trenches and war-torn cities, and it works- it’s the usual beauty of UbiArt with a different palette and look.
Any problems? Well, I only really have one main one. At first I thought that characters were speaking in nonsensical gibberish, but upon listening more closely it turns out they’re actually talking their native language- be that German, French or English- quickly and without subtitles. So if you want to hear what they’re saying you better be able to speak German, French and English or you can eat shit, Space Cowboy. Character dialogue isn’t essential to the plot (A narrator handles all the heavy stuff) but it’s annoying all the same.
So, is “Valiant Hearts” worth a look? Definitely. The story is a personal character piece with some real emotional punch (the ending in particular is rather moving) even if parts of it occasionally fall flat, the gameplay is solid and the educational aspects are surprisingly well handled. Check it out.
By James Lambert