The game is essentially a puzzle-type game. The player tries to get the character, Ida, from point A to point B to complete her journey through the valley. The game is artfully designed, and extremely aesthetically pleasing. There is not much backstory to the game, besides the fact that the player needs to take Ida on this journey. The game mechanics are relatively simple, the player just needs to tap on the screen to instruct Ida to go there, and certain pieces of the obstacles or buildings can rotate or move in order for Ida to get to the end point. The game play is relatively simple, but the environment is very immersive and interesting. If you like games that don’t have a lot of overhead and backstory, and you like aesthetic design, calming music, and an easy-to-get-into puzzle game, this is for you.
As I continued to play the game, the more intrigued I was by it. I thought it was great because it balanced a lot of things well: difficulty, immersion, design, and music. First of all, from watching the preview video introducing the game on the website, I was afraid that the game would not have enough instructions, or be one of those game that had points where I would just be stuck, and unsure of what to do because there was lack of instructions or something just wasn’t clear enough. Monument Valley was not like that at all. There were barely any instructions, but there were just enough so that I was not lost at all during the entire playthrough. The concept was simple enough, and the learning curve was just high enough to make me think, but not enough to stymie me or impede me from continuing for a long period of time. I also was pretty immersed into the game, which is surprising because I normally don’t like puzzle-type games that much. I think the reason is that Monument Valley is so artistically designed with the player in mind that it’s hard not to appreciate the things the game developers do for you (or maybe that’s just me, after taking 378 and developing games myself I’ve began to realize that the small things matter). Additionally, in my opinion, the entire game is the player meeting the game developers at the halfway point. I mean this by the game developers put a lot of thought and effort into making the game fun and challenging, but they never expect you to be able to go all the way by yourself to figure something out. There are always clues, hints, or subtleties that indicate, subconsciously or consciously, what move or path you should take. For example, when I first meet the ally block character, I immediately knew what the ally could do for me. It was presented in a way that was not immediately obvious, but given the circumstances and environment of the current puzzle, it became clear that I could move him just like a movable block. I also loved the elegance and concept design of the game. Many of the maps or puzzles (like the unfolding box and emerging sea one) were just extremely well thought out, and super cool to see in actual gameplay. Much of the game is based on these “impossible” geometries, such as the endless waterfall, or the hand drawing a hand, and the game made it easy to visualize how these pieces fit together, even though I had never previously had to think as abstractly in a puzzle game. All in all, I have very little criticisms for the game, as I thought the game was beautifully designed, balanced, and curated for the casual iOS game player.
- Jack W.