UbiArt Proves its Worth with Valiant Hearts and Child of Light

Who says 2D is dead? Certainly not Ubisoft, as the UbiArt engine that powers Rayman looks set to bring us two of next year's most graphically impressive games -- the World War I-inspired Valiant Hearts: The Great War, and the interactive fairy tale Child of Light.

News by Pete Davison, .

I quite liked Rayman Origins but, to be honest, not enough to keep me playing to see it through until the end.

This was at least partly due to the fact that I quite liked Rayman Origins more for the way it looked than the way it played. I mean, sure, it was a perfectly competent -- even decent -- platformer, but I've found in the last few years that that style of game isn't enough to hold my attention any more, regardless of how lovely it looks. I also struggled to convince people to play it with me, and when I did, we found that the co-op mode was more chaotic than helpful, much as it is in the Wii's New Super Mario Bros. titles.

Even though I was a little disappointed with Rayman Origins as a whole -- much as Jeremy was disappointed with its follow-up Rayman Legends -- I could sense the potential in the UbiArt Framework engine that powered its glorious high-definition 2D visuals, and I sincerely hoped that the Rayman series wouldn't be the only time we'd see it used.

Fortunately, as it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. Take a look at this.

This game is called Valiant Hearts: The Great War, and it follows the lives of five people caught up in the events of World War I, inspired by real letters sent and received during The Great War itself. The narrative follows how four strangers help a German solider find his love amid the chaos of trench warfare.

The trailer doesn't give much of an indication of how the game will actually play, but it has a very distinctive art style that would simply make a good animated movie in its own right. If the presentation of the game is on par with the trailer -- and with UbiArt powering the game, that's a distinct possibility -- then it looks like we're in for a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. Ten bucks says the dog dies.

Valiant Hearts is set for release in 2014 for Xbox One, PS4 and PC. It looks like it will be a digital-only release.

But wait! There's more.

This one is called Child of Light. Developed by Ubisoft Montreal, it's a role-playing game based on fairy tales -- not a specific one, but more the general feeling and atmosphere of this type of story. You'll take on the role of a young girl called Aurora who was stolen from her home, and is tasked with bringing back the sun, moon and stars that are held captive by the Queen of the Night.

The game features turn-based combat inspired by Japanese role-playing games, and exploration from a side-on perspective. The art style is again both distinctive in its own right, and clearly distinguished from that seen in both the Rayman series and Valiant Hearts. The animation on Aurora looks particularly lovely, and there's a very nice parallax layering effect on the scenery that allows the camera to zoom in and out for the illusion of 3D.

Child of Light is set for release in 2014 on "current- and next-generation platforms as well as PC" -- though the trailer only specifically mentions Xbox One, PS4, Wii U and PC, unless Ubi is counting Wii U as "current-generation."

These two titles -- and the Rayman series, for that matter -- demonstrate something interesting about Ubisoft. Despite being a huge publisher usually regarded as on the same level as the other giants of the industry Activision and EA, Ubisoft is an outfit that seems altogether far more willing to explore commercially risky territory with its titles. Of course, at least part of this is probably due to the money-printing machine that is the Assassin's Creed series, but it would be very easy for Ubi to rest on its laurels and not greenlight more creative projects such as the two you see above.

"Ubisoft's strengths include its diversity and the freedom it gives its creative teams," said Patrick Plourde, creative director at the publisher. And he's right -- for all the criticisms you can level at the publisher for churning out annualized franchises, it's hard to deny that its willingness to step onto potentially unsteady commercial ground on a fairly regular basis is a big strength that sets it significantly apart from its rivals.

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Comments 9

  • Avatar for limbeckd #1 limbeckd 4 years ago
    Child of Light looks like it could be interesting. I am very hesitant to buy anything from Ubi, though. I don't even remember why anymore, I just know they got lumped into my "bad publisher" category.

    I make a point of not watching trailers if they don't have gameplay footage, so good work tricking me by not mentioning that until after the Valiant Hearts trailer.
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #2 MHWilliams 4 years ago
    @limbeckd PC DRM perhaps?
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  • Avatar for limbeckd #3 limbeckd 4 years ago
  • Avatar for renatocosta90 #4 renatocosta90 4 years ago
    @limbeckd then uPlay, then AC3, I guess
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  • Avatar for limbeckd #5 limbeckd 4 years ago
    @renatocosta90 Well, I have AC2 on my 360. It was fun enough (when I wasn't watching cutscences), but I didn't come anywhere close to finishing it, so I've never really felt the need to buy or pay much attention to the later AC games.
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  • Avatar for renatocosta90 #6 renatocosta90 4 years ago
    @limbeckd I rather liked the story bits, and the ending had a nice twist... but then, brotherhood came along, it was nice, but there was something missing... revelations should have been the warning I needed to stay away from it but no, I had to get AC3 to check it out.

    Ah well, at least I guess it was worth it when there's the bit in Brazil (my country) with the painful dub and absolute senseless gibberish people spoke there (there's a bit where a guy is shouting at the other for having slept with his little sister. it was golden)
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  • Avatar for Zendorian #7 Zendorian 2 years ago
    You are definitely alone in not liking Origins, as is Jeremy with Legends. They are excellent Platformers.
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