Archives: game review

I played – Valiant Hearts

In 2014 Ubisoft Montpellier released a 2D adventure puzzle that takes place during World War 1. It’s name is Valiant Hearts – The Great War. It is an anti war game and it is truly and I mean truly amazing. I have played this game 2 years ago I think, but just recently I was thinking about it again and how much it moved me. And I thought that if I can bring just one person to play this game I have done good.

Fotu_ValiantHearts_cover

Right from the beginning I knew that Valiant Hearts was that kind of game. The kind that moves you, makes you tear up and leaves you thinking. And that stays with you. After all the other games you have played, you still think about it and feel a sense of melancholy.

So, in this game you play 5 characters: the frenchman Emile, his son in law, the german Karl, the american soldier Freddy, a Belgian nurse named Anna and Walt, a dog. It comprises of four chapters that again are split into sections. The game is about love and the horrors of war. About the strength you receive from love and friendship. It is about a family that is separated by the cruelty of war and pitted against each other.

In the beginning of the game, Karl is deported by the french and put in the german army. His french wife Marie and his son Victor are left behind. Maries father Emile and Karl’s father in law has to join the french army. The two of them are in opposing armies now but the goal of the game is to reunite Karl with his wife and kid. The characters have different skills like using a bone as a makeshift lever or a wire-cutter to get through obstacles. To progress in the game you have to solve puzzles and find your way through a terrifying war landscape with bombs going off nearby and shooting and screaming. I thought that the difficulty of the puzzles was just on point. Not to tough and not to easy.

And then the music! Oh the music!

Listen to it:

I don’t remember how long it took me to finish the game but it’s said to take between 6 to 8 hours for the story. The price is around 15 $.

What I find so appealing in this game is the fact that you play in a historic event but that it doesn’t feel like the boring history class we all had to endure. History comes to life here and as I said it is terrifying, but also beautiful.

I played – Virginia

I heard about Virginia on the Girl Tribe Gaming podcast (Great listen if you are looking for a game review podcast).

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I had not been playing a lot of Indie games until recently. After games like Valiant Hearts or Child of Light I was certainly interested, but now I am hooked. Virginia helped a lot to fuel my enthusiasm.

It was released in 2016, developed by Variable State and published by 505 Games. It is available on all platforms.

It took maybe four hours of gameplay to finish the game. It is hard to tell though because I could not finish it in one sitting. If I remember correctly I played it on three different nights. So maybe around four to five hours.

Because I cannot, for the love of god, create a tight summary of a game, I went to Major Nelson to get a nice short tease for Virginia:

Virginia is a single-player first-person thriller set in a small town with a secret. Experience a missing person investigation through the eyes of graduate FBI agent Anne Tarver. Together with your partner, seasoned investigator Maria Halperin, you’ll take a trip to idyllic Burgess County and the secluded town of Kingdom, Virginia, where a young boy has vanished and nobody seems to know why.“

The game is really weird. It is not like any other game. You hardly act as a player in it, you rather lay back and experience it. For the most part you can not interact a lot. If you can interact with a person or an object you see a circle forming on the screen where you look. That way you know you can do something. The game is mysterious and confusing and to me it seemed like a trip. As the gamer I was hopping on a train and took a ride. I got off and was very confused and happy. Happy, because I love mysterious things. I love when you don’t quite know what the hell is going on. Like in a Kafka book.

Lyndon Holland’s  music helps create a mystifying atmosphere. It is really beautiful music! Especially „Sojourner’s Truth“ is hauntingly beautiful and reminds me of Twin Peaks. Lyndon Holland is also the co-writer of the screenplay.

I don’t want to tell you more about this game because I feel it probably plays best if you know as little as possible. I can only recommend that you play it with an open mind and a bit of time on your hand. I wish I could have played it in one sitting. Afterwards you will have many questions. But there is help for that. There are a lot of answers/interpretations in several game reviews I found. The only question is…do you want answers and interpretations? Or is it sometimes best to let your mind spin for a while?

Next up in „I played“: 7 Days To Die.

 

 

I played – Life is strange

What a game! I had only heard great things about Life is Strange and when I saw a good deal on Xbox I immediately bought it. I have to say I have never before played a game like this. Right from the start I was captured by the music. The atmosphere created by it is beautiful, dreamy and sad. I was intrigued.

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You play 18 year old Max Caulfield, an aspiring photographer who attends Blackwell Academy in the fictional small town Arcadia Bay. Max spent her childhood there and then moved to Seattle for 5 years. After her return things have changed and friendships have suffered.

Life is strange is an interactive, story based adventure game. Throughout the game you are given choices that impact the game and often you have to look for clues and objects to trigger the next sequence. The game consists of 5 episodes. The first came out in January 2015, the last one in October 2015. The studio behind Life is strange is Dontnod Entertainment, a french studio established in 2008. Before Life is strange they did Remember me (2013). Their future project „Vampyr“ is coming out this year. Life is strange is available on all platforms.

So back to the game itself. Right at the beginning of the game Max discovers that she can rewind time, which becomes a well used feature as you can imagine. The gameplay overall is good, not super intuitive (at least for me), but ok. I think the most fascinating part of the game is the amount of emotion generated in the player. I had tears in my eyes not once but definitely up to 3-4 times. The choices you have to make are pretty huge at times. And with huge I mean in a philosophical/moral way. The game puts you in a spot you might not have been before, raises questions you may not have thought about before; in a way it’s a game about life ethics. And maybe the grand „What if“? Is there more than one life? Can I change lives (if given the chance of time travel) or is everything destined to happen one way or the other?

Life is strange is also pretty dark at times. Topics like suicide, bullying, murder, euthanasia and general teen angst are all in the game. At least the latter applies or applied at some point, for a lot of people. And I, although I am in my 30’s, can still remember what it felt like to be a teenager.

I really, really enjoyed the game and I can only recommend it. I am not sure about the upcoming Vampyr game though. It is hard to tell at the moment with only the trailer. Maybe it is the setting that bothers me. But anyway, go play Life is strange.

Next up in „I played“: Virginia.

 

 

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