Valiant Hearts for History Class

Valiant Hearts is rated PG (rated Teen in the US), despite taking on some of the darkest facts and scenarios from the Great War. At $20 or less its a well produced, narrative driven adventure puzzler which smacks of the kind of French cartooning style of the nineteen sixties.

The players switches around four characters which are not at all typical action heroes. It manages to describe the great war without resorting to the kind of graphic violence that would raise media-fearing eyebrows. Most of the time you’ll be solving puzzles and over coming obstacles. The hint system is pretty slick too, making you wait for the next one on a count-down. The effect is that you know a hint is going to arrive, so most of the time, my kids went back to trying to solve it rather than wait for the clock to tick down.

Watch the trailer or read the Wikipedia entry for more details. The game is well paced, with save points and plenty of puzzles to solve which could easily be mediated into a study of to the great war. My 8 year old was more than able to play it, but skipped all of the ‘historical’ fact cards which offer up information as game play progresses. In school, you could make a lot of these cards, building activities and discussion around them as students progress. The game is on PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, XBONE and PC. With a decent metacritic score of 80% on all platforms, my pick would be the XBONE edition for class and small group work on an IWB.

It represents the growing interest game developers have in remediation of historical narratives without resorting to smash and bash or puzzles which rely on visual inspection and decoding with limited effort to allow game-play to tell its own story. It also debunks the myth that gamers have limited taste in games or that they are not willing to try text types which are unfamiliar.