Review: Valiant Hearts: Coming Home

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Almost ten years after the surprise hit Valiant Hearts: The Great War came out, the successor Coming Home has been released for all current systems.

Valiant Hearts: Coming Home was initially released exclusively for Netflix subscribers on iOS and Android on January 27th, 2023. The game was released for PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on March 9th, 2024. If you have missed Valiant Hearts so far, you can purchase both games in one collection at a reduced price. Unlike The Great War, Coming Home was largely developed by Old Skull Games, although judging by the credits and a short Moby Games research, some developers of the original game from Ubisoft Montpellier were also involved in the development of this game.

Coming Home is a direct sequel to Valiant Hearts: The Great War (2014): As Belgian medic Anna, British pilot George, German sailor Ernst and brothers Freddie, who headed to war for France, and James supports the U.S. Armed Forces as part of the 369th Infantry Division, also known as the Harlem Hellfighters, we experience excerpts from the last few years of the first World War. We already grew fond of Anna and Freddie in the first game, therefore we’re very involved in seeing their story continue.

The new characters all bring a new perspective: While crash pilot George plays a somewhat minor role and is given little play time in which we help repair his battered aircraft, setting sail with Ernst is a lot more interesting, after all we sabotage a German submarine with the former trader in order to put an end to the war in the North Sea and to protect his new American friend James, who on the other hand has to contend with the tragic fate of the Harlem Hellfighters. His comrades, with whom he also plays music, pass one by one as cannon fodder. The few silver linings are the meeting with Ernst, who hands him his clarinet when his own falls into the Baltimore Harbor, and the reunion with his older brother Freddie. Just like in The Great War, these moments are short-lived and are quickly marred by the next stroke of fate.

The game was originally designed for mobile devices, so it differs slightly from its predecessor in terms of gameplay. There are hardly any large areas to explore, instead there are more streamlined scenes in which we have to attend the wounded in a hospital with Anna by doing quick-time-events, sneak through trenches behind enemy lines with James and provide supplies in our own position, dodge enemy planes, hot air balloons and anti-aircraft missiles with George in the jet fighter (similar to the vehicle chases in part one) and use Freddie to mark positions that George should attack. The gameplay loop is loosened up by the music playing of the 369th Infantry Division around James as a rhythm game and seems a bit out of place in the overall picture. The flight passages with George are not very demanding and occur a bit too often. In contrast, treating people disfigured by war as quickly and competent as possible with Anna gets our pulse racing thanks to its visualization and the short time limit and it is somewhat reminiscent of the indie hit Fall of Porcupine, which was nominated for the Best German Game at the German Computer Game Awards. Avoiding guards in the trenches, on the other hand, is again very entry-friendly and not very challenging.

Valiant Hearts: The Great War thrived on its dense atmosphere, unique graphic style and believable characters and Coming Home delivers on all of that. Even though Freddie gets less screen time than in the previous game, he is essential to the story. The beautiful graphic style of the first game, which was created with UbiArt Framework (just like Rayman Origins/Legends), is also used in Coming Home. The hand-drawn look also looks great in the sequel and makes the series unique in its depiction and storytelling of the First World War, similar to 11-11 Memories Retold. On Nintendo Switch, the level of detail is slightly lowered in handheld mode, but the frame rate always remains stable. The original’s score was characterized by piano pieces and the sequel does a decent job by continuing that effort, also by adding effervescent big band pieces. At around three hours, the play time is considerably shorter than its already short predecessor and we would have liked to be able to spend a little more time with the characters. Localization of the voiceover would also have been desirable. The international dubbing of Valiant Hearts: The Great War was great, this time you have to make do with the equally high-quality English narration.


Valiant Hearts: Coming Home brings the story about people of different origins, genders and professions in the midst of the First World War to a bittersweet end, relying on the iconic graphic style, the well-known narrative and the proven gameplay formula of point’n’click scenes mixed with rhythm-based mini-games, with everything being dumbed down a little. Fans of the original enjoy the decent continuation of the story, but Coming Home doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. We would have liked a little more courage to innovate here. Anyone who likes story-driven adventures and has missed Valiant Hearts is encouraged to give the franchise a chance.

Ubisoft provided us with a copy of Valiant Hearts: Coming Home for Nintendo Switch and the screenshots.