Playing Monument Valley is a weird experience. It doesn’t last very long, but for the hour or two that you are playing, you’re torn between progressing with the puzzles or just staring slack-jawed at the screen. Because this isn’t just a game: it’s gorgeous, beautiful art.
The best way to explain Monument Valley is to bring up a scene from Inception. You know, the one with the impossible staircase? You walk up the staircase, and yet somehow you end up back where you started. Monument Valley is a game built entirely around these concepts of forced perspective, isometric viewpoints and impossible shapes. You interact with the environment, swiping, rotating and moving objects to create a path for the main character, Ida. Solving these puzzles will hurt your brain. You have to force yourself to think in a completely different way: visualising paths where there logically shouldn’t be any. But if you can overcome that hurdle, you will get an immense sense of satisfaction. Along with that whole brain-hurting thing.
The puzzles are great, but they’d be nothing without the gorgeous artwork that accompanies them. Every single screen of this game is a work of art, and could quite comfortably line the walls of a museum. The colours, the shadows, the textures…utterly magnificent. I enjoyed looking at Monument Valley every bit as much as I enjoyed playing it.
The experience is quite short: easily under 3 hours, and maybe under an hour if you’re smart. Tying everything together is a story of sorts, but that’s quite weak and flimsy: figuring out what’s going on is difficult, and the short bits of text you do get are purposefully vague and confusing. It’s a shame, as what I could make out was interesting, but there’s just not enough substance there.
Other than that though, the game is fantastic. Yes, it is short, and maybe a little expensive for what you get. But what you do get is so good that it doesn’t matter. Skip buying Starbucks for a couple days, and buy this instead. You’ll get a hell of a lot more out of it…
Monument Valley is out now on iOS.
Review copy kindly provided by the developer.