Monument Valley is a game that is ideally suited to mobile play and yet it appears far more beautiful than is expected of something made solely for touch devices.
Needless to say, tablet and smartphone games are not exactly famous for their depth, especially in relation to PC or console games. Monument Valley might not be up to the same depth and standard of its older siblings, but it’s a beautiful and cathartic experience that offers more than the standard mobile fare to which we’ve perhaps become accustomed.
Monument Valley is an expression of emotion delivered through colour and shape. Taking influences from Japanese prints and Islamic architecture, Monument Valley looks absolutely gorgeous. It also has a beautiful, serene soundscape that works at its best through headphones. Appearing like an interactive Escher painting, we play as Ida – a mute princess who we must guide through a series of mazes and seemingly impossible puzzles in order to reach the summit of abandoned monuments.
While directing a silent protagonist from one point to another might sound like an arduous and straightforward task on the surface, it’s an exhilarating experience made up of typical puzzle solving coupled with perspective altering optical illusions. The game is displayed entirely isometrically and hides clear paths and angles needed to progress, and it’s our job to manipulate the environment, connect the pathways, and progress to the next monument.
“Monument Valley is a sweet, sophisticated, and beautiful experience”
Objects of interaction throughout the game are displayed through the use of colour and shapes, and the game shows no interactive frame or buttons on screen whatsoever. Despite its lack of traditional screen prompts, however, Monument Valley feels intuitive to play, and it was always clear what could be interacted with, and what could not. This design decision also maintains the game’s beautiful aesthetic meaning each level looks like a piece of art that could be framed and put on the wall.
This beauty perhaps shields the game somewhat from criticism towards its length which, at just ten small levels, is a little sparse. There’s very little challenge here, too, meaning the game can be completed in just over an hour. Within half that time, the game’s mechanics have made themselves abundantly clear, and little more is offered from that point forward. Things start to repeat themselves a bit, which means the game has a relatively short lifespan – perfect, perhaps, for killing time on a commute, but less so in terms of long-term satisfaction.
Monument Valley is a sweet, sophisticated, and beautiful experience that’s truly like interacting with a piece of art. It’s a clever and intriguing interactive experience with an absolutely wonderful aesthetic, and it stands head and shoulders above most games currently available on mobile devices. It’s a great little game with grand ideas. But, while it positively glows in its appearance, it falls a little short in its conclusion, leaving an insatiable thirst for more.