Monument Valley: In Which JJ Enjoys a Unique Experience

When I learned yesterday that Monument Valley had finally been released on Android, I switched on my Nexus 7 and bought it immediately. It's a game that was able to capture my imagination through its gorgeous aesthetic alone, and had me considering buying an iPad to experience it, along with a handful of other games exclusive to Apple's ecosystem, of course.

The gorgeous aesthetic didn't disappoint. The Escher-esque worlds are vibrant and beautiful. I couldn't help but imagine how the imagery might shine through on a retina iPad's display, but even at 1280x800, this game is an absolute pleasure to look at. There is even built-in screenshot functionality that makes it easy to capture images of the game's worlds at any point.

Playing the game is simple, and consists of tapping a space to move the protagonist, Ida, as well as manipulating the world to create perspectives that line up paths for her to continue. The concept is very similar to Echochrome, though a bit more casual. I enjoyed the difficulty (or lack thereof) and pacing of Monument Valley; it's tough to get too stuck.

One of many gorgeous levels
One of many gorgeous levels

The story is a bit esoteric, but I can appreciate that. It's told through level introductions and a few short sections of dialog. Other than that, it's the actions of Ida that you'll have to interpret as you will. Ida finds a yellow totem friend who helps her to navigate the worlds, and her goal seems to be to deliver a particular geometric shape to a point in these worlds before moving on to the next. You're told that the geometry of the worlds you're traversing is sacred, and also that something has been stolen. Perhaps Ida is returning the stolen parts of the world? It's something I feel like I'll have a better grasp on if I were to play through the game a second time knowing what I do now, and filling in the blanks.

Replaying the game isn't so much of an issue, either, as it took me only about an hour the first time. Length of games, or the value of a game, has always been a fairly contentious issue. I fall on the side of hour counts not meaning much. It should be enjoyment rather than time that's weighed against cost. Monument Valley is $4 on the Google Play Store right now. For an hour long game, some people may say that's about right; others will undoubtedly say it's way too much. To me, I enjoyed that hour quite a bit. I appreciated the sense of wonder the developer, Ustwo, was able to encapsulate into that time span. For me, that's more than enough to warrant $4.

Monument Valley is a small yet artistically brilliant game with subtly captivating bits of storytelling. If it sounds at all interesting to you, I'd recommend you give it a try. Games like this seem to be where my interests lie these days. Kentucky Route Zero is another game in a similar vein, which I enjoy quite a bit. With the third episode of KRZ finally having been released a bit ago, I'll be playing through that in the near future. I may even write about it!

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