Cody Shepp

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Monument Valley - a short review

Published on 6/28/2014

When I downloaded Monument Valley, I knew I was in for a treat.

Sometimes when you just look at screenshots of a game, you can tell that the developers and designers put a lot of thought and hard work into their creation - and that's definitely the case with MV. It's so very true that every level in the game is a work of art. In fact, you can easily purchase prints of any screenshots you take in-game. The low-poly, geometric, brightly colored architecture that's the focal point of MV is a breath of fresh air, coming from the all-too-common pixel art style that many games are adopting, especially in the mobile market. On top of that, you get the intricately layered, often mind-boggling level design, which really makes for some unique perpective shifts throughout the game.

Last week, I finally had a chance to download the game, brew a cup of coffee, and sit down on the couch with my iPad to dive into this beautiful world.

Stranger in a strange land

My first interaction with MV was beautifully orchestrated by the developers. My objective was clearly marked on the screen as a target-like set of concentric squares on the ground, a visual queue that was obvious but didn't seem out of place. Of course, the path to my objective was blocked, so I reached for the clearly defined interaction point - a knob - and with one small motion, the perspective shift clicked into place for the first time...and I was hooked.

As the game progressed, the puzzles were layered with additional mechanics - moving obstructions, buttons that open new paths, a general disregard for gravity, and even a companion. The different mechanics always kept me thinking, and they interacted in interesting ways. Can't get past that enemy? You have to flip the platform upside-down to get around - that sort of thing.

Jolly cooperation

I have to admit, the main storyline in MV was lost on me. I get the gist - I'm a princess, I took some geometric stuff, I had to give it back, there were some graves, we're all pretty birds now - but it just didn't do anything for me. Maybe my expectations were unrealstic, or maybe the story was just shallow, it's hard to say, but either way I was disappointed.

That said, I still really enjoyed playing MV. And I love that Totem to death! Who knew that a pillar with an eye could be so adorable?

If you've got an extra $3.99 and an iPad, I would definitely recommend that you pick up MV - not sure how it looks on a smaller iPhone screen, but on the iPad it's a work of art!