To me, there are two types of puzzle games. There are puzzle games that are fun and exciting because they don’t make you think all that hard, but can keep you engaged for hours, and even days. I am thinking of games like Candy Crush or Bejewelled. Then, there are puzzle games that incorporate a clever narrative, puzzles that make you pull your hair out. Monument Valley is the latter.
The game is one of the smartest games I have played, and reviewed. With that intro, here is the review.
The game has an almost wordless narrative, using only pictures and music to tell its story. The protagonist is a faceless character which is asexual. This is one of the many design choices that the developer has made to make this game accessible to pretty much anyone. Old, young, male and female…almost anyone can identify themselves with this game. As the game progresses, design choices like this become even more evident and it’s hard not to come off impressed with amount of thought that went into this one.
The entire game (or narrative) is broken down into individual set pieces. I say set pieces, rather than levels, because you will be moving entire structures to take the player character to his/her destination. You will be shifting stair cases, moving levers, sometimes raising and lowering platforms in order to get to the end point.
The puzzles can get complicated, and the game allows you to zoom in and plan your approach. There is no time involved, making this more like a chess game than a hyper-kinetic button masher. The puzzles borrow the basic concept of optical illusions and multiply that by a hundred times. The answer to fixing the set piece is hidden in plain sight. Being able to look beyond the obvious will help you solve the puzzles with ease.
Visuals and Sound
Is there any game that can look more beautiful than this one? Every set piece is like a work of art, and kudos to the art team for bringing this picture alive. Colours are used symbolically to help move the story along, and the music that goes with each level is ideally used to set the right mood. The game is best played with headphones on. Have you installed one of those relax music apps? If you have, you might add this game to that relaxing sound effect app list. The music and visuals are that good.
The only complaint I have about the visuals, is the jaggedness which affects the suspension of belief a little bit. The game was played on lower display device, and yet the visuals were popping out with jaggy edges everywhere. It’s not a deal breaker by any stretch, but this could have been a little better.
With a game like this, it is hard to expect Replayability. The game suffers from the same problem that affects other awesome puzzle games like Portal/Portal 2 or those Tomb Raider games. There is no practical way to increase the difficulty and that means, there is nothing to motivate you from playing the game again. Once you finish it, you will probably looking to remove it from the phone.
The game had zero bugs during my play through, and it did not prompt me to buy any packages either. The game is a paid game, but of course, there are some games that offer you to buy more stuff even after paying for it. That is not the case here, and that’s good. Once the game is completed, you can buy extra levels, but the whole story is part of the original purchase.
Game version at the time of review: 126.96.36.199 / Device used for review: Lumia 820
Download Monument Valley for Windows Phone by clicking or scanning the QR code.