Monument Valley is a brand new game for the iPad designed around the concept of impossible objects. The game combines beautiful visuals, soothing music and clever and challenging puzzles based on manipulating the environments and your perspective of them.
We have been playing the game on the iPad for some time now and these are our thoughts.
We have all come across the concept of impossible objects before. These are 2D or 3D objects that are designed in such a way that when seen from a particular perspective, form an entirely different 3D object, one that often defies logic by its appearance and thus cannot actually be possible. It’s an optical illusion that plays with your mind to make you see things that don’t really exist and more importantly, can’t really exist.
Monument Valley makes good use of these impossible objects to create an M. C. Escher like world where paths exist and don’t exist depending upon how you see them. The game is somewhat reminiscent of Echochrome that was released for PSP and PS3, but while Echochrome made you simply adjust your perspective of your world to form paths Monument Valley actually lets you move parts of the world.
You play as Princess Ida, the silent protagonist of the game, who is on a quest to find… something or the other. You guide her around this world by tapping on places and she’ll automatically walk there. Not all paths are clear, however, and some you have to make yourself. The game lets you move around certain objects around to create a path. This is where the concept of impossible objects come in; your brain tells you the path you just made cannot exist in the real world. The two platforms that seem like they are next to each other because you look at them from a certain perspective are actually quite far apart. But in this game (and as it was in Echochrome), if it looks real, it is real. If two platforms look like they are touching, you can walk over them, regardless of how far apart they might be in reality.
This is the beauty of this game. There are no actual puzzles to solve. The puzzles are basically assessing the environments and forming a path to the exit. You move objects around and in some cases turn the level around to form paths that previously did not exist to make your way to the next door.
The game has ten levels in total and each level usually has a few more sub-levels. In most of the later levels, you have to walk over to a switch on the floor to activate it in one of the sub-levels and do this in the other sub levels to complete the main level.
In terms of challenge, the game is not really that difficult. Only once or twice will you get stumped for a minute or two but you figure it out pretty quickly. Perhaps a slightly higher difficulty in later levels would have been nice but the game is more about the overall experience than just solving puzzles. Overall, though, it is quite satisfactory and will keep you hooked till you finish the game, which actually doesn’t take far too long.
Graphics and Sound
Visually, the game is absolutely stunning. The way some of these levels are designed and the level of intricacy and thoughtfulness that went into it is truly commendable and can only be fully appreciated by playing the game and working its little mechanics. You can’t help but smile every time one of the levels just flips and turns into something completely different from the same objects and creates a completely different world. Add to that the gorgeous palette of colors, that range from psychedelic to soothing and what you have is less of a game and more of a work of art.
The sound is equally impressive. The music is nice but what I truly loved is what sounded like sitar strings being plucked in tune with the objects being moved and turned. It’s a nice touch and stands out among an already impressive sound work.
I wasn’t fully aware of the hype that surrounded Monument Valley before it was released and after playing it I now feel it’s well worth the hype. The game is beautifully designed with thoughtful puzzles that suck you in and won’t let go until you finish the game. Each individual part of the game is very good in its own right but when added together Monument Valley really turns out to be quite a masterpiece. It’s one of those games that makes it worth having an iPad.
Pros: Thoughtful puzzles, beautifully designed levels, lovely audio
Cons: None in particular
Download: App Store • Android
Note: This game was reviewed on an iPad Air.