Have you ever looked at the world around you and wandered if what you were seeing was really there? It’s not often a game kicks off a deep philosophical thought process for me, but Monument Valley, available from the Google Play store for £2.99, most certainly did.
You play the character of Ida the Silent Princess and there are 10 chapters of increasing complexity to work through. Along the way you meet some enemies, the Crow People, as well as some friends who help you out on your journey through this dreamlike world where the spatial laws you are used to, simply do not apply.
Let’s kick things off by stating the obvious. This game is stunningly beautiful. You could sit and write a list all of the superlatives you could think of to describe the artistic direction and graphics and not even come close to doing Monument Valley justice. The sounds are equally mesmeric as what you see and play a big part in immersing you in the world. The soft piano notes and woodwind sounds that play out when you move the environment are simply perfect. I can’t think of a title I have played recently where I sat back and just thought….WOW. I spent a good five minutes just turning and changing things, simply listening to the sounds with the biggest smile on my face. Surely that, my friends, is all you can ask for.
Now, back to my original point. This game makes you seriously think about the geometry and visual perception of the world in which you find yourself. The developers have utilised things called impossible shapes (3d objects which make no sense in our reality) to allow you to move through the game world. A classic example of this type of structure is the Penrose Triangle. To make things all the more interesting, the game architecture is designed in such a way that simply changing your visual perspective can open up new pathways through the chapter. Finding the solution to a puzzle is incredibly satisfying and the mental kick you get every time something clicks never gets old.
The controls themselves are as simple as they come. Tap a place and Ida will move to it, or manipulate an object by swiping it. Easy. The great thing about this game is all of the frustration you sometimes get from games with poorly thought out controls, (Lara Croft: Guardian of Light I’m looking at you!), just doesn’t exist here. The way the game plays so smoothly allows you to enjoy every second of it and your immersion is never broken by dodgy controls or misbehaving mechanics.
There are some neat added extras too. The developers have inserted a feature that allows you to take snapshots of the world. These can then be shared on social media using the #monumentvalleygsme hastag directly from the app.
I would say that the joy of Monument Valley comes not from frustratingly difficult puzzles, which this game doesn’t have, or long boss fights, which again, this game doesn’t have, but from the simple tranquility and profound beauty that it brings in bucket loads. It is almost like an exercise in mindfulness playing this and there is simply no other recommendation than to sit down in a warmly lit room with a glass of something that you fancy and play Monument Valley right now. This is by far and away the most lovable thing I have had the pleasure of playing in ages.