The Valiant feels like a bit of an odd choice for a console port. While games like Age of Wonders 4 and Company of Heroes 3 made the transition, they did so with some genuine concessions to control and performance. The Valiant, released on PC back in October of ’22, doesn’t fare that much better, though it put considerably less strain on processors in the first place.
It’s a decent port, though. It tells the story of two warring Knights, Theoderich and Ulrich, formerly best friends until the latter claimed a powerful, evil relic at the tail end of the Crusades. The story is pretty good, though the telling of it suffers at the hands of an engine that struggles with the in-game cutscenes. Theoderich is a strong enough lead, if a little comparatively dull. All he wants is to live a quiet life away from war and bloodshed, but with Ulrich going off the reservation and raising an army to sack Britain, Theoderich has no choice but to get involved.
During fights you’ll be directing squads of troops around the battlefield. You’ve swordsmen, spearmen, archers, mounted knights, the usual assortment, and there’s a pretty simple loop of damage where one soldier type is more effective against another. Because the camera stays above the action, you’ll have a pretty good view of who’s doing what and where they are.
Each mission will have clear objectives as well as various side concerns. From all-out assaults to escorting VIPs, there’s a decent variety of missions across the 16 main stages. Your soldiers and hero characters all have unique abilities you can call upon, which never stray too far into fantasy. You won’t be summoning demons to fight or anything, but you can buff your squads, charge the enemy, or deliver precision volleys. You can even find loot such as special weapons and armour to outfit your men for war. It’s not the deepest system but it adds another layer of customisation and tactics.
Moving your squads around the battlefield is easy enough. You may well start an engagement in a position of advantage, but it does often last. Skirmishes are highly mobile, with enemies coming from all angles and directions. You’ll need to split your forces often in order to defend multiple fronts or flank the enemy where possible.
The Valiant plays great on a DualSense 5 controller. There aren’t a ton of button combos to worry about, and activating specials is as simple as hitting the corresponding button. I did find that it felt a little unresponsive at times, and my troops would just mill about a bit until I repeated a command. It’s also not always super clear to see what’s happening as the console version has no close-up zoom. Your men all blur in with the enemy after a while.
The console version launches with the main game, Skirmish mode, the online multiplayer, and the Last Man Standing horde mode where you just need to defend a trio of heroes against waves of enemies for as long as you can. It’s a great mode for those who crave a solid challenge, but the multiplayer will give you much more to think about. Adding other players into the mix is always a great way to increase the challenge, but arguably The Valiant doesn’t need it. It doesn’t add anything new to the overall experience, but rather changes the way you approach the core gameplay.
On PS5, The Valiant is just as playable and enjoyable as on PC, even if it’s not quite as good-looking. The control scheme works well, and there’s enough content across the different modes to keep you busy for a little while. There are better top-down strategy choices out there, such as the aforementioned Company of Heroes 3, but this is great if you’re a particular fan of medieval warfare. Whether you’re looking for an interesting if in-spectacular story campaign, or a challenge to stretch your tactical brain, The Valiant is a pretty solid option.
Controls well on DualSense 5
Combat is fun
Good selection of modes
Story isn't amazing
Can be hard to follow the action
Cutscenes don't impress