Monument Valley

Screenshot

First Impressions

Monument Valley is an interactive puzzle game where the player controls a click and move princess through various monumental puzzles.  The player is given very little backstory and no instruction and is just expected to interact with the environment to see what the various puzzle pieces do.

Visually, the game is absolutely stunning.  The textures are minimalistic but there is so much detail in the environment that it still gives an incredibly detailed and complicated look to it.  The puzzles themselves are ancient buildings which the player has to control and the puzzles are built around the idea of an M.C Escher piece that you can actually change around.  

Just the idea alone of being able to control confusing structures is enough to entice any player, and I was no exception.  

 

Going Forward

As I played the game I noticed that the levels became more and more difficult and eventually more and more abstract.  The earlier “monuments” in the game are all very standard building-esque looking structures with a bunch of different platforms that you are supposed to travel on.  However, through the progression of the game the monuments lose their building like qualities and look more like pillars, almost as if they are the structures but more damaged versions of them.  I thought this was a wonderful progression story-wise.  

One of my favorite features of the game was her subtle character progression throughout the story.  You are given some backstory and eventually find out she is stealing all of the “sacred geometry” of the valley from the people who originally owned it.  Along the way you meet these nuisances called the crow people who do nothing but get in your way and a totem who wants nothing more than to see you succeed and be a part of your life.  

Eventually you are crowned as the crow’s queen and begin to use them to solve puzzles and for the totem you just use and eventually abandon to drown (He comes back later but only briefly to help) and it is just a really cool subtle progression of lonely thief to ruler  who uses her subjects to complete her goals.  I thought it was really well done with only puzzles which I have never really thought as possible before.

My one and only gripe with the game (Besides it being too short obviously) is that in the end you see her with her totem friend.  I saw her leaving it behind as an important arc in her character progression where to gain power you have to leave some people behind.  The picture I have is of her leaving the totem and it was a poignant scene that elicited a lurch in my gut because I had left it behind.  And when I saw the totem again I was happy to see it was still willing to help, but when she abandoned it a second time I fully expected to never see it again.  It just didn’t sit well with me that it was so supportive of someone who kept leaving it behind, and the fact that it unrealistically kept finding her.

That one minor detail aside, this is probably the best mobile game I have ever played.  The art was beautiful, the levels were tricky and creative, and the character progression was done in a very novel way that I hadn’t seen before.  If I were to rate this game I would give it a 9/10.

- Samuel L.