Monument Valley

Monument Valley screenshot

First Impressions: This indie game can best be described as a physics-based puzzle solving game with incredibly visually pleasing art. You are tasked with moving Princess Ida along three-dimensional platforms to reach the end of each level. In order to make it through most of the scenes, you rotate, pan, and slide the platforms and various other structures so that the princess can travel across seemingly impassable obstacles. The backstory is slowly introduced as Ida finishes a series of levels and communicates with a ghost. However, it is more of an artistic impression than a fully developed narrative. The player is expected to interpret various symbols and fragments of speech. 

Going Further: My first impressions barely scratched the surface of this game. After a few levels have passed, crows start to appear more and more frequently. As the game cleverly mentions, they are annoying but not really aggressive in nature. If they’re sitting on a tile next to the path, Princess Ida can walk right next to them. They noisily squak in her ear but there is no effect on her health.

In fact, she has no health at all. I think that’s to convey that this game isn’t about fighting or survival. It is a journey of exploration and discovery and health points would only add an element of stress.

Pretty shortly after their introduction, the crows have the ability to pace back and forth on a platform. When Princess Ida steps in front of them, the stop moving and squeak loudly, making it impossible to pass. The A.I. is very simple but very well done. In order to pass by a crow, the player must determine how they can displace the crow from its typical path. Usually, this is done by waiting until the crow is positioned in the correct place and then rotate or move the platform that it is standing on so that it no longer blocks the path of the player.

Overall, I was very pleasantly surprised by this game. The art and music were incredibly relaxing. The puzzles were the perfect balance of challenging and satisfying. 

Reviewed by
Nathan Macfarlane