Review: Monument Valley

Beautiful, clean, designerly, deliberate, serene, and charming. You may not see these words used to describe a video game very often; however, in the case of Monument Valley, there is little else that seems fitting. While not entirely unique in its mechanics ­ see Fez or Echochrome ­ the simplistic underlying story combined with the ambient visual style makes for an experience well worth the $4.99 AUD asking price – a premium that mobile and tablet owners may not be used to paying. In experiential terms, the player engages with Monument Valley as a silent princess, navigating her both directly and indirectly through a series of 10 unique environments – the main means of interaction being in the rotation of level elements, essentially altering the perspective of the level entirely. The game entirely consists of the player solving spatial puzzles, thereby allowing the princess to move unhindered to the end of the level. Although the puzzles aren’t necessarily challenging, often just figuring out how the level works spatially and finding which elements can be interacted with can keep you busy for up to 10 minutes per stage.

If you decide to play Monument Valley, turning your sound right up and relaxing into the experience would be by far the best way to go about it. Along with the wonderful visual design, there is a fantastic minimal soundscape constantly playing in the background, peaking at staged points, with music strengthening the emotional elements of the story. In terms of story, the delivery is quite minimal, as a player can only expect to get a snippet of text here and there. Each chapter title tells you what to expect, albeit in a slightly cryptic sense, preparing you for the symbolism to look for in the coming chapter. Although there is never any explicit narrative, there is an ending that rounds everything off nicely, resulting in an opportunity for the player to sit back and ponder their experience.

Monument-Valley-Presentation

Monument Valley is quite short, as may be expected for a mobile experience, but it is very different to the experiences that players may be used to on tablet devices/smart phones. The total play time comes in at around an hour and a half, but you will need to dedicate 5 to 15 minutes to each level, so it’s not as pick­up and put­down in nature in comparison to similar titles in the mobile space. The replay value is quite high, however, as you will probably find yourself wanting to go through it again and see the symbolism embedded within the experience with more clarity.

Those who enjoy slower paced, experience-based games would do well to pick up Monument Valley. Don’t let the premium price deter you either – the culture of $0.99 apps being the norm definitely needs to change so that we can all benefit from titles like Monument Valley being released more often. The careful and loving design put into this title is clearly visible and would be a valuable experience to add to your gaming repertoire – even as a conversation piece for future reference.

Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Share on Tumblr0Share on Reddit0

Good

  • Beautifully crafted visual experience
  • Appropriate for children and adults alike
  • Replay value entirely based on players desire to delve into the experience

Bad

  • Initially players may be confused as to what elements are interactive (not clearly signposted at times)
  • There is almost no direction for those who need hand holding
9

Amazing

Jair is a running, climbing, jumping, video game making ginger roustabout. People tend to yell "Oh jeez, Fentooooon" as he walks by. Youtube will explain that one.
  • Dave C Haldane

    See, for me, there wasn’t enough game in Monument Valley for me to rate it higher than a 7 or 8. Definitely a great experience with beautiful presentation and atmosphere but very light on gameplay. The puzzles are ridiculously easy so I felt I was just moving the princess thru the story as it unfolded. Than again I felt the same with Journey so I’m clearly the type of person who segregates art and games 🙂

    • Yeah, I agree. I remember enjoying it, but that’s about it. It was over too quickly that I can’t remember much else. That being said, I’m keen to try the new levels that were released recently.

    • Greg Newbegin

      I’m a little different – I just can’t invest a lot of time in mobile games. I start playing something, then something shinier catches my eye. So it was refreshing to find a mobile game that I not only finished, but I WANTED to finish. It was exactly as long as I wanted it to be.

  • Jair McBain

    I think I’m rather biased towards games as art and vice versa, but I at times personally enjoy sitting back and experiencing something interactive at a reduced pace more than I do rushing through having to achieve a bunch of difficult goals at once. I think had the puzzles been more challenging it would have only taken away from the narrative experience and the game would have become something entirely different.

    • Dave C Haldane

      I agree 100%

Lost Password