Review: Monument Valley, by ustwo
Monument Valley, ustwo
· Good puzzle challenge game
· Music and effects are integrated with the game
· Easy to learn and play
· Only 10 levels available (now)
Monument Valley is a fresh take on a puzzle game. It relies on a three dimension, shifting world straight out of the mind of Escher. The good news is that you can help control the world. With a good integration of storyline, innovative graphics, a soothing soundtrack, it is easy to get lost in the game. I decided to review this app with the help of my daughter, Elizabeth, who has played this game for days upon days.
Figure 1: Simple movements such as twisting the crank allow you to modify the world around Princesss Ida.
In Monument Valley, you are trying to help Princess Ida become queen. You assist her moving through the world, getting objects that she needs to be elevated to queen. To make Ida move, you just tap on the location you want her to go. If there is a clear path there, she will walk that way. If not, you aid her by twisting, rotating, turning, tapping, and dragging the three dimensional world to enable Ida to walk around. In fact, sometimes you take what appears to be a simply location and progressively make it more and more complex through your interaction. You also have to uncover secret portals, stairs, ladders, and passageways. Gravity is non-existent in this game, as Ida may end up walking upside down, sideways, and even sometimes right side up.
Figure 2: Unlock levels (up to 10) by completing the level prior to it.
At the beginning of each level, Ida is trying to get to a trigger plate at the end of each level and find the object reward. Along the way, she can even get assistance from the realm itself with “totem friends” who help lift her to higher locations. She can also encounter “crow people” that paralyze her, although there is no long lasting harm to the encounter. After progressing through ten levels with increasing difficulty, she eventually is crowned Queen, and the crow people are released from their spell becoming colorful companions.
Figure 3: Find critical objects at the end of each level to aid Ida's quest.
The graphics are simple enough, but because of their Escher like quality, they appear very complex. At times, it is difficult to remember you are not dealing with a straightforward world, and interacting with the realms may lead to seemingly impossibly Escher like imagery. The controls are very simple – tapping, rotating, and sliding are the extent. The haunting music that accompanies the game blends perfectly with the graphics to enhance the otherworldly atmosphere of the game.
Figure 4: Simple backgrounds increase in complexity quickly. This started as a simple square box.
This is a universal app, and can be played on any iOS device. There is no multiplayer option, which would be an interesting twist (needing two people to navigate a world could require some intense cooperation). One drawback my daughter was quick to point out was that there are only ten levels – I can only hope that more are on their way.
Figure 5: At the end, even the "bad guys" are transformed into Ida's friends.
All in all, Monument Valley is an engrossing puzzle challenge game. Simple is design, without any speed requirement or goals other than simply reaching the end of the puzzle, the game is easy to learn and fun to play. While there are only ten levels, my daughter has indicated that she has played each of the levels multiple times, so there is the potential for high replay value (even though the puzzles remain the same). At $3.99, the price is reasonable, and from what I have read, new levels will be available with in-app purchases soon. As a universal binary, this can be enjoyed on any iOS device. Four and a half out of five stars.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating. Please comment on these reviews. All opinions expressed in this review are precisely that – opinions. You may agree or disagree. If you own the app, tell me what your opinion is. If the review prompted you to buy (or not buy) the app, let me know why. If you want more information about the app, go ahead and ask.