iOS, Android, Windows
April 3, 2014
Monument Valley is an illusory adventure of impossible architecture and forgiveness by ustwo.
There are certain games that make you stop and appreciate the beauty of the game. Not just the graphics but the interaction and thought behind it. These types of games tend to be more focused on the experience than in giving you new game mechanics or challenging you with impossible puzzles.
Monument Valley is most definitely one of these games. It is intensely focused on experience and delivering the best one possible, and it does that very, very well. There aren’t any new mechanics in this game, and in most cases the mechanics that are present have been done better for other games. But that isn’t the point here, the point is purely the experience.
The graphics are simply gorgeous, and no two stages are alike. And even within the stages themselves the methods you use to solve the puzzles might be similar but the process in which you do them is different. In one you might simple need to spin the puzzle to present a different perspective to move the Silent Princess, in another you will need to rotate and move pieces. In yet another you may have to solve a puzzle.
The base game (which sells for $3.99, and is available on almost all mobile platforms) only has 10 levels but there are multiple puzzles in each level that have to be solved so it feels larger. Some puzzle aren’t so much complicated as they are relaxing and enjoyable. That isn’t to say some aren’t complicated however. In the most difficult levels the complexity is enhanced by the Escher-like environment. Having to move blocks to a certain position so you can move others to different levels can be tricky when there is no obvious solution. When you have to change the orientation of the entire puzzle to even find the correct pieces it can be frustrating, but at no point did I ever get so frustrated I had to put it down and walk away.
To date there have been two expansions to the game, “Forgotten Shores” and “Ida’s Dream.” “Forgotten Shores” is a full expansion, containing eight new levels. Again, the ideas and mechanics aren’t new but the mind-bending perspective shifting that goes on gives you familiar game play with new takes on existing ideas. “Forgotten Shores” contains some of my favorite levels, including the Oubliette.
“Ida’s Dream” is a single level that was originally given to players as a part of the Project (RED) promotion. ustwo has released it the public saying that they felt everyone should be able to enjoy the full Monument Valley experience. Although it is a single level there are multiple puzzles that you have to solve to complete it. So it’s more like 4-5 mini levels.
All in all Monument Valley is one of my favorite games to play on the phone. I’ve gone through the entire collection at least 4 times (most recently while down with the Flu) and probably will again and again. As I understand it ustwo won’t be releasing any more levels for this game, instead focusing on their upcoming projects like Land’s End and a new mobile game.
If you like puzzles, Escher, and/or games that don’t require rapid button pushing I highly recommend giving Monument Valley a try.