You don't go and develop a series like the classic Rayman and simply fade into developer's obscurity: Ubisoft Montpellier is Ubisoft's branch on the ground in Montpellier, France, and it is a company that has been consistently developing games as a subsidiary of Ubisoft since 1995, existing prior to this as far back as 1989 as Ludimedia. This article is a developer profile that takes a short look at the company in a little more detail , as well as some of the games it has produced over the years. A particular focus here is their 2014 title Valiant Hearts: The Great War, a puzzle-based adventure game that gets its inspiration from actual letters during World War I.
About the Company
Before the company became a subsidiary of Ubisoft, many of the staff at Ubisoft Montpellier were formerly working under the collective name of Ludimedia. It was under this guise that the company created a game that would go down in history as one of the most memorable series of all time with an iconic character to boot: this game was Rayman. The very first branch of Ubisoft itself formed in Brittany, France, and aside from the release of their very first title called Zombi in 1986, Rayman is one of Ubisoft's earliest creations, with the Montpellier subsidiary being largely responsible for its success.
Ubisoft Montpellier's greatest works come in the form of the Rayman series, Beyond Good & Evil, and Valiant Hearts: The Great War. Though the company are responsible for developing a total of 17 individual games as of 2015, it is the aforementioned titles that truly stand out as the jewels in the Ubisoft Montpellier Crown. Rayman, for example, went on to become a gaming icon as well as a fully-fledged franchise - 2013 saw the release of Rayman Legends a massive 18 years after the very original Rayman was released, demonstrating the longevity of this franchise.
As well as being known for series like Rayman, Beyond Good & Evil, and even working on the Assassins Creed: Unity - Dead Kings project, one of Ubisoft Montpellier's greatest achievements is their creation of the UbiArt Framework engine. This 2.5D engine allows for the organising of 2D animated vector graphics into a finished video game project whilst cutting out much the intensive coding process that would ordinarily go into performing such a transformation.
It is clear that Ubisoft Monpellier have been the developers of quality games for many years, but arguably one of their most impressive and ambitious projects was the development of a game called Valiant Hearts: The Great War. As its title suggests, this game's inspiration was taken from the many letters that survived from World War I. Rather than being a full-on combat epic like Call of Duty or Battlefield however, Valiant Hearts' focus is a little more on the puzzle/adventure side of things.
The game's storyline involves assuming control of four playable characters, each with a role to play in helping a German soldier find his love, with friendship, sacrifice, and of course your own survival being the main themes that run throughout. A majority of the gameplay involves tackling the game's many puzzles, which in turn involve finding and utilising a variety of items needed for the situation at hand. There are also sections of the game that are more traditionally war-themed, such as encountering gunfire from enemies and having to employ a great deal of stealth to avoid detection.
The adventure side of the game rears its head in the storyline of course, but also in the format of the gameplay itself. Each of the four characters you play as possesses slightly different abilities or traits, but all characters are able to move in the usual manner as well as interact with objects around them, perform melee attacks, and pick up/throw certain objects.
If you look at the reception that Valiant Hearts: The Great War received when it was released, you're only going to find largely positive responses. The unusual format combined with its wonderful graphics and intriguing storyline won it the support of a majority of critics, and makes it stand out amongst Ubisoft Montpellier's already impressive collection of games.
Information about the particulars of Ubisoft Montpellier's history is quite sparse, even on the official website, but for a more detailed look at their works and for a glimpse at a nicely-designed website, head to Ubisoft Montpellier section of the Ubisoft website. You'll also find some great pictures of the current staff that give a deeper insight into the general work environment at the studio.