Valiant Hearts: Coming Home is a mobile game that follows the story of four unsung heroes dealing with the overwhelming nature of war during World War I. The game is directed by the original core team from Valiant Hearts: The Great War, and is the first of three mobile games that Netflix and Ubisoft are bringing exclusively to Netflix members starting in 2023.
The game pays tribute to the Harlem Hellfighters, the first African-American infantry unit to fight in World War I, who broke down racial barriers at home and abroad. The story deals with themes of survival, sacrifice, and how love can push anyone past whatever adversity is in their way.
Ubisoft has been finding themselves in a weird position recently with their AAA releases with fans of Assassin’s Creed being more divided than ever and the Farcry franchise falling into creative fatigue. However, Valiant Hearts: Coming Home shows that they are still capable of creating games that are not only fun to play, but also meaningful in their themes and storytelling. This game is a testament to their commitment to making games that are both enjoyable and thought-provoking. Something which I hope they continue on with their future releases.
The horrific beauty of war
One thing that immediately stood out in the game is its gorgeous art style, which effectively depicts the horrors of war with striking images while at the same time showing off the tender and loving moments between the characters and their relationships with each other and the world around them.
The comic book look enables Valiant Hearts: Coming Home to be a little bit more creative in the way it depicts certain scenarios and level designs feel packed with small details that add up to paint a grim yet oddly beautiful picture of World War 1. Level designs feel unique from one another in terms of aesthetics. From a battlefield with flying bullets and constant bombing to a hospital with injured soldiers filling every corner. It makes each chapter have its own personality other than the fact that you play a different character each time.
The moment-to-moment gameplay is extremely simplistic with a mix of exploration, mini-games, and puzzle solving, making it accessible to a wide range of players. The touch-screen controls are easily understandable with the non-existent HUD benefitting the immersion of every scene.
As players navigate through various real-life events of World War I, they’ll see how each of the characters fight through adversity and society. There are three main chapters with 19 episodes to go through. Each one is brief enough to go through in a couple of minutes and yet, Valiant Hearts: Coming Home makes full use of its precious time with barely any filler. Although there are some levels where backtracking is required, it was never too tedious enough to the point that it overstays its welcome.
There are also a couple of collectibles you can find all throughout the levels with each one giving interesting real-life information about the various trinkets found from the war. There are also times when you can open up documents showing authentic images taken during World War 1 alongside a brief explanation of what you’re seeing. It’s a great way to feed bite-sized context to the times the game takes place in.
One of the strongest aspects of Valiant Hearts: Coming Home is its emotional storytelling. The game does an excellent job of capturing the essence of what it means to hope and to love during a time of war.
From the relationships between the characters to the events that unfold throughout the game, you’ll be transported to a world where bravery and selflessness are the norms, and the drive to survive and make it back home is the ultimate goal. The emotional ride of the game, from subtle imagery to key story beats, will tug at your heartstrings and make sure you’ll be rooting for all the characters.
However, there are a few personalities that I felt like could’ve used a bit more development to further strengthen my connection with them. There are clear favorites when it comes to how much the narrative focuses on them. I only wish the others got the same treatment.
Valiant Hearts: Coming Home also tackles how bad racial discrimination can be back during the war. One of the character introductions, for example, shows how a character of color was not even trusted to hold a gun and was relegated to using brooms and sticks during training, while white soldiers in the background enjoyed their firepower.
Final Verdict – 8/10
The game’s simplicity in gameplay and the emotional journey it takes you on make it a fantastic mobile experience that is well worth your time. The story is well-crafted, with characters you’ll care about and events that will have you on the edge of your seat. The mix of exploration, mini-games, and puzzle-solving is enjoyable, and the fantastic art style is the cherry on top.
Valiant Hearts: Coming Home is a game that will take you on an emotional journey through the horrors of war and the triumphs of the human spirit. The game’s beautiful art style, emotionally-charged storyline, and simple yet enjoyable gameplay make it a must-play for anyone who loves a good story, whether on mobile or any other platform. With its portrayal of bravery, hope, and love, Valiant Hearts: Coming Home is a game that will stay with you long after you’ve put it down.
This review was made via a code provided by the publisher.