Amongst a sea of Bejeweled clones, flapping birds, micro transactions and other nonsense in your app store, lies an absolute indie gem called Monument Valley.
Monument Valley, developed by Ustwo, is an isometric puzzle adventure game for mobiles, originally released for iOS earlier in 2014, it has now found its way to Android and Kindle Devices.
Monument Valley tells the story of the silent princess, Ida, and her quest for forgiveness through a beautifully-crafted isometric world heavily inspired by the art of M.C. Escher, brought to life by designer Ken Wong.
The story of Monument Valley is quite bare bones, strong emphasis instead rests on its gameplay and puzzles. Players guide Ida through each level using touch controls to rotate and manipulate the world, each world has it’s own theme and central mechanic.
It features incredible world design and architecture with optical illusions and impossible geometry. Each chapter, of which there at 10, has several levels that each build on the previous in terms of gameplay that create a truly unique experience like no other.
Throughout these chapters, Ida encounters several characters, including the strange crow people inhabit the world and block her path, as well as a mysterious ghostly figure that questions the true motives of her journey.
The art of Monument Valley is truly its strongest asset. Each frame is its own piece of artwork, you could take a screenshot of it at any moment and frame it on your wall. While the puzzles are not all that difficult, the level design of Monument Valley is truly something else.
Monument Valley isn’t just about looks, all of its environments have a stunning level of detail and thought behind them. The design makes strong use of colour to guide the player through each level and highlight which parts of the world the player can interact with to solve each puzzle.
The atmosphere of Monument Valley’s tall towers and dark depths are both oddly lonely yet relaxing, the fact that the player cannot let Ida die or lose the game ensures a positive experience for everyone while still engaging the player on an intellectual level.
Admittedly, Monument Valley is not a very long game as players can expect to finish it in around 90 minutes, which is a little disappointing for the game’s $4.99 price tag.
But after much demand, Ustwo have recently released Monument Valley: Forgotten Shores, an expansion of 8 extra levels available as an in-game purchase. Offering a continued story, more challenging puzzles and new interesting mechanics.
I would highly recommend Monument Valley if you have not played it already. It is a stunning example of the capabilities of the mobile platform, a welcome change from the direction mobile gaming seems to have taken.
Ustwo are currently working on their next title, Land’s End, for Samsung’s Gear VR. You can watch the teaser trailer for Land’s End here.