[Review] Monument Valley (iOS)

I love it when ‘fee and gaming collide…

A Starbucks recently opened on the college campus where I work. I am not a lover of Starbucks really…I mean I don’t refuse free Starbucks, but I don’t go out of my way to drink it. In any case, one day last fall a colleague of mine and I found ourselves in the line-up at this shiny new Starbucks. I had no plans to pick up anything; my colleague was after the 6-dollar spinach and cheese pastry. As we approached the cash, I noticed a sign that said, “Starbucks Free App of the Week!” along with a pile of little cards. What is this! I loves me free! I took one of the cards, and discovered it contained a free key code to a game I had never heard of before called Monument Valley. The graphic for the game intrigued me immediately so I thought I had nothing to lose by trying it out. The only barrier was that the key code given was for the game in the iOS environment. I am predominantly an Android user, but thankfully, I have access to an iPad at work, so I was able to use the key before it expired at the end of September. This was the first game I actually played on the iPad, and am pleased to say the experience was a good one. And as it turns out, Monument Valley was a pretty fun game.

I am not exactly sure what the story is behind Monument Valley, but it is a puzzle game where you lead your main character, Princess Ida, through and around beautiful, odd structures and mazes, in her personal quest for forgiveness. The puzzles remind me of the stylings of M.C. Escher (1898-1972), where every puzzle contains a visual paradox. With each puzzle your mind is constantly being bent around in an optical illusion as you tap around, leading Ida through each scene. Levers, turnstyles and strategically-placed buttons are available for you to control platforms and catwalks so that Ida can advance through a scene. The game’s mechanics are very much reminiscent of the Room and the Room 2 (games I reviewed here and here) where you are presented with a puzzle to solve in order to advance to the next room, as well as having the ability to interact with the scene, and move your perspective around to find the correct path you need to send Ida down. Stylistically speaking, keen eyes can’t deny drawing similarities to Kentucky Route Zero (a game I have reviewed previously), particularly in its use of muted colours and fonts. To that end, each scene is beautiful – vibrant, and visually appealing. GORGEOUS, in fact. With every scene, I almost want to take a screenshot, print it out and frame it!

Although a pleasant time-waster, my only real critique with Monument Valley (aside from an unclear plot) was the lack of a serious challenge. It was also a short game, as I completed all the levels in an evening. The game was designed for the iOS environment (it won Best Game for the iPad in 2014), then ported to Android, so I am unsure how it translates to Android. Regardless, Monument Valley is a very placid game, non-stressful, and a decent user experience. …And expensive – $5.99 in Google Play and Apple App store. So, if you can get it for free or at a discount, I recommend it!

7.5/10

Monument Valley
Developer: Ustwo
iOS / Android / Microsoft Mobile / Windows
2014

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15 comments

  1. That does look like a really intriguing game. As for Starbucks … I’m in complete agreement. I actually can’t remember the last time I had a coffee from a Starbucks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, I never buy anything from our campus Starbux. Our department had hired a work study student this past summer who also worked at another Starbux and told me pretty much there was a mark-up at the campus outlet. No thanks, I’ll pass.

      Like

  2. I too recently played this…for free. The iTunes Store had it featured as the free app of the week a month ago (-ish) so I downloaded it and gave it a whirl. I enjoyed the art style and the mechanics of the game, but like you felt it to be lacking in the challenge department. If anything, the game felt like a demo for a much deeper, more challenging game. I was okay with the story being a bit on the shallow side, mostly because it reminded me of the first Zelda game. I agree with your score, but would give it a 10/10 it it were 100% free for everyone.

    Also, I played it on my iPhone 5c, so I’m sure my experience would have been better on a tablet.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is great timing – I’m bored with the usual games and I just got an iPhone! I just looked in the Apps Store (gah I hate that, it should be the Applications Store. Apps sound like you’re in a sports bar and it’s Appy Hour. It just sounds dumb to me). Anyway, it’s $4.59 tonight, nothing on offer for free. It looks pretty, but I don’t usually pay for games (I save my monies for records!), and if you completed it in an evening I can’t see paying for it. I enjoyed your review, though! Nice one, Sarca!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, and don’t get me started on Starbucks. I can’t stand their coffee. It tastes like somebody burnt the coffee, then bare-assed sat in it for a week, then burnt it again. It needs so much sugar to kill the flavour of it that at that point it isn’t coffee anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

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