We all know what the past looks like. Go back a hundred years, and the world was black and white, sped up and weirdly jerky. People talked in ornate title cards – which was lucky, because how else could you hold a conversation over the din of a dramatic piano score? Philip Larkin once wrote that sexual intercourse began in 1963; it seems that sound and colour began before that, but not by all that much, compared to the history of the world. It is strange to think that two entire world wars were fought entirely in monochrome.
I was predisposed towards liking Valiant Hearts: The Great War. I mean, here’s a game about a war that is rarely seen in video games (the First World War), there’s no shooter gameplay in it, it is not about winning, the game has a distinct anti-war streak, the overall tone is melancholy, and Valiant Hearts even does a good job of educating its players about WW1 without turning into a moralising lecture. Whereas the vast majority of games set in wartime put you behind a gun or inside some vehicle equipped with guns, Valiant Hearts is largely pacifist in its leanings. Its protagonists are French, German, Belgian – and canine, since I hesitate to assign a nationality to a dog… as does the game, to its credit.