The Valiant – PS5 Review 3

Real time strategy is a genre I’ve spent a long time away from. Being mostly a console gamer, I just don’t tend to cross paths with what tactical offerings they can bring. With a fresh set of controller bindings, The Valiant looks to transition onto the Playstation 5. Kite Games are leading the charge and this tale about knights and greed delivers some depth at the cost of some repetition.

The Valiant‘s story takes the Crusades setting and firmly sticks to it. Your band of merry medieval knights are battling in the holy lands when a relic comes into their possession. A branch from the tree of life has splintered and Ulrich, a compatriot immediately takes command of it. As time passes, he operates as the main antagonist who your brothers fear could seek the other pieces of the branch.

As hokey as it sounds, I do find the story is delivered well. The in-engine cutscenes do have a sense of action figures on a stage with no room for moving mouths or much gesticulation. The voice acting is absolutely committed and can at least give proceedings a hefty weight. The campaign revolves around a constant sense of conflict and, as such, everyone is deadly serious. Chapters are nicely sandwiched between animated storybook sections that fit perfectly with the tall tale being delivered.

Console controls for a real time strategy game can always be a tricky bridge to cross. For what it’s worth, the controller defaults seem perfectly serviceable. It doesn’t compare with the precision of a mouse but tactical pause options do allow you to halt the action as you see fit. In real time, the d-pad helps you switch between groups easily. It can still be clumsy when units are in close proximity to each other but, for the most part, the controls worked out well.

The campaign itself is split into 16 missions. The first two act as a prologue which introduces the game’s challenge, as well as the tools of battle. I found it to be a tough enough ice-breaker that does inform you how important battleground composition will be. It begins largely with infantry scuffles that can, if you’re not careful, go south. Even at that early stage, careless management can result in a lost unit.

Heroes offer the biggest opportunity to turn a tide. These special, story characters must be kept alive to ensure success and they are far more robust than the standard fodder. They have unique abilities that can deal buffs, direct damage and so on. I felt the whole army was important but heroes carry an aura that it can be worth protecting.

New units are introduced regularly and they all seem to have their specialities when it comes to engaging the enemy. Archers can pin opposing units down in a hail of arrows but they are not made for close-quarters combat. Spearmen offer javelin throws and can charge horseback cavalry but aren’t the quickest to attack. These trade-offs meant I was generally trying to strike a balance between boots on the ground and ranged assault. Strength in numbers wouldn’t always cut it.

To help, The Valiant gives you a lot of feedback. Hovering over terrain gives you handy breakdowns of any advantages and penalties your units will received. Bushes can help hide units although the element of surprise didn’t usually take precedence, for me. Abilities are well explained and display clearly things like the direction of charging cavalry or areas under control by archers. It’s a lot to take on and, providing you can manage the small text, there’s a lot of depth to consider.

Whilst I do enjoy the strategic elements, I felt the campaign did settle on the same objectives and battles. As I mentioned with the story, there’s very little time to cool down and relax with some sieges feeling elongated and exhausting. There’s a lot of falling back to defend villages and I just got worn down by some of the repetition. Weaponry and some light base building ultimately all serves to hammer home a game that loves to see a siege.

It doesn’t help that these missions tend to fairly lengthy with 30-40 minutes going by. Checkpoints do alleviate some of that drag but, if you suddenly feel you don’t have the right manpower at your disposal, you’re better off restarting. To the game’s credit, you do get the option to rejig your available hero and regular units. Sometimes it’s necessary when you don’t quite know what opposition is ahead of you. Manual saves are missing although I didn’t find that omission to be too distressing. The checkpoints usually trigger when an objective is completed.

Aside from the campaign, there’s a skirmish mode to tinker and experiment against the AI. Last Man Standing is effectively a horde mode where you prepare a trio of heroes to battle waves of enemies. This does encompass some base defence but these kinds of challenges are almost replicated during the campaign.

If I’m honest, The Valiant didn’t really click for me. It’s not a genre I venture in too often but the campaign does slowly teach you the ropes and unveil new troops to keep things fresh. Unfortunately, the objectives bring that staleness back and and the repetition ultimately got to me. There’s obvious depth on offer but it all seems to be wrapped up in siege warfare that I couldn’t maintain enthusiasm for.

The Valiant
6 Overall
+ Offers plenty of feedback to the player.
+ Enjoyable storybook interludes between chapters.
+ Tactical with a good sense of depth.
+ Controls well on a gamepad.
- The campaign can feel repetitive very fast.
- No ability to manual save.
- Small text can make some tips difficult to read.
- A lack of variety in the other game modes.
The Valiant doesn't all come together, in my opinion. The depth on offer feels undercut by a repetitive and exhausting campaign. The feedback on offer does a great job of helping you come up with a strategy and using a controller felt relatively hassle free. The narrative might involve a fairly standard holy MacGuffin but the storybook way it was told was enjoyable. I do wish it traded more in variety. A change of pace from the persistent sieges and defence could've kept me engaged. As it is, The Valiant feels like a grind.

About Mike

Mike gets all the racing games because he understands that stuff even though he doesn't drive.

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