There is an embarrassment of riches these days if you are a gamer. You can play high quality games at any time of the day on a super computer that you keep in your pocket. Independent development has gotten bigger, and gaming as a whole seems to be pushing and trying new and innovative things. Today I want to talk about a game that is fresh, innovative, fun, and very pleasing to the eye. I want to talk about Monument Valley.
Monument Valley is a game that first debuted on iOS and is now on Android. If you are not familiar Monument Valley places you in control of a character that is moving around in a 3D world that is represented in 2 dimensions while playing on perspective of viewing. What do I mean by that exactly? Do you remember that scene in Inception where they show the stairs and change perspectives to make it a loop of sorts? This game is like that, only all the time. That is called the Penrose stairs and for those who have not seen Inception, it’s a set of 4 stair cases that connect to form a box. This is visualized in 2D images but not possible in 3d space. This and similar images came from a man named M.C. Escher whose unique art inspired much of the level design for this game.
With this conceit in place the developers of the game, USTWO, use rotation of 2D surfaces to hide puzzles in the game. The point of the game is to make it from a start point to an end point but you will have to find your way around, rotating a structure to reveal that while disconnected from one perspective, they connect in another. In that way it is very reminiscent of Fez. There are additional things in place to add to the complexity of the puzzles, some you may have seen elsewhere. There are also times where you will be looking around at your screen for some type of switch of button. There are times this game reminds of The Room in feeling.
While the game is innovative and fun the thing that really sets it apart is the visual design. It feels like a visual fiesta of polygonal art. The water is made up of triangle, reminiscent of wallpapers you may see on mobile devices. The characters are simply designed but do have depth in their animations. The color palate is sometimes bright, and sometimes muted, but always beautiful and stylized. Every level of this game is beautiful and could make for a fantastic piece of pop art on your wall or a wallpaper on your favorite electronic device. The developers no doubt realized how beautiful the game is since they decided to throw in the ability to take a screenshot and share it to social media right from the game.
My only gripe with the game is that it is not very long. There are 10 levels and though I am not done, I think I could finish in the time it took me to write this up and I may have 1-2 hours in this game. That being said, I still think this game is worth the price of $3.99 that is being offered in the iOS and Amazon app stores and on Google Play. While it’s not long, it certainly is enjoyable.
Monument Valley is beautiful, thoughtful, intelligent, and artistic. It is my favorite game that I have played in 2014 and I say that without qualifiers (mobile, indie, etc.) This blend of Escher, Fez, The Room, and Mattias Duarte (lead designer for Android at Google) makes this game stand out from a crowd of even the best games. Why are you still reading this? If you are check out the trailer below.