The Valiant review (PC)

The Valiant, developed by KITE Games and published by THQ Nordic, is heading to PlayStation and Xbox consoles soon but has already launched for PC. It looked promising when we saw it a few weeks ago at Gamescom, so we didn’t want to wait and checked out the Steam version.

When The Valiant somewhat prominently appeared at Gamescom, we were surprised to learn it was a multi-platform release. As a squad-based RTS, it’s the kind of genre that we’ve seen flourish on the PC, although we’ve seen other “PC” titles head to consoles in recent years as well. SpellForce was a good example, and some of the more lush environments in The Valiant even reminded us of that game a bit.

But although The Valiant has fantasy elements, it’s more historically grounded than SpellForce. Story-wise, it focuses on Theoderich von Akenburg, who turns his back on violence after a career as a crusader knight in the 13th century. Fast forward more than a decade though, and he’s forced out of retirement when he and his former fellow knight Ulrich von Greval stumble upon an ancient artifact called the Rod of Aaron.

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Containing immense power that could unleash a terrible evil, Theoderich has to gather the necessary pieces to complete the Rod and keep it out of the hands of those who have less than noble plans for it. This takes him on a journey across Europe and the Middle East, on which he’s joined by several others who have their own personal reasons for joining you – while also giving you more options in the squad-based combat area.

The mechanics in combat are familiar to anyone who’s played something like Divinity, Fire Emblem or Total War. As in the latter, you’ll quickly learn that ranged units can be powerful, but can get decimated if the cavalry succeeds in flanking them. The mechanics here aren’t revolutionary, although some ‘faith’ mechanics like the ability to use devotion can prove novel in combat and seem fitting of the time period. Other combat mechanics include fortitude and health – essentially the willingness and ability to keep fighting. Perfectly functional stuff, but nothing you haven’t seen before.

What makes The Valiant engaging is that the writing’s interesting, especially if you enjoy pseudo-historic tales of adventure and bravery. Your hero characters also join you on the battlefield, which gives personality to the otherwise familiar gameplay elements since they also feature prominently in the story segments and can be upgraded with new abilities in between battles and equipped with different weapons.

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Locations and combat scenarios feel a bit repetitive though – the medieval backdrop lacking the kind of exotic and colorful locales found in other games and objectives lacking a bit in diversity as well. There’s lasting appeal in the included multiplayer modes though, which include Last Man Standing – a mode for three players that we enjoyed quite a bit. Here, you and two friends can keep taking down waves of enemies, unlocking new skills (and cosmetic unlocks) along the way. Compared to the also included 1 vs 1 and 2 vs 2 modes, Last Man Standing feels like the most novel approach to multiplayer included here.

Audiovisually, The Valiant didn’t blow us away, but doesn’t drop the ball anywhere either – the hero characters are very engaging, the battles are nicely animated and we thought the music was excellent. It’s not the most “next gen” game out there, but there’s a great deal of polish to the game that fans of the genre will certainly appreciate as they engage in solid tactical battles with familiar mechanics.

Score: 7.8/10

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