Monument Valley – Indie app of the day

May 14, 2014
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What is Monument Valley?

Monument Valley is an atmospheric puzzle platformer that was just released for Android. The premise is fairly simple. You play as a princess named Ida who must wander around a strange and captivating world filled with puzzles and little crow people. It sounds easy but thanks to some creative level design, it’s actually quite the challenge.

Let’s first talk about the level design. Each level is a captivating mix of retro graphics and optical illusions. The beauty isn’t so much in the graphics but rather how the puzzles, the graphics, and the level design all work together to create a cohesive and undeniably elegant experience. In other words, the way the levels are set up are pretty much going to blow your mind more often than not.

Okay so here’s how you play. You start out on a level and you must make it to the end. At first glance it looks impossible, but there are various levers, wheels, switches, obstacles etc that you can hit that alter the level. This is where the elegance sets in. The game uses carefully crafted optical illusions to create steps where there weren’t steps before. Thus, if something looks ridiculous, then it is likely that there is part of the level you haven’t altered yet in order to continue.

Therein lies the challenge. Even when you figure out where all of the illusions and switches are, you have to make them work in accordance with one another to reach the end. It also helps that the game comes with a soothing, atmospheric music that is augmented by the actions you take. For instance, if you swipe to lower or raise a ledge, you may hear some guitar strumming. Using music and sound, the developers found a way to merge the game play with the music and graphics to turn it all into one big experience.

On the outside of the magic, you’ll no doubt notice that this game supports Google Play Games services. In this game, only achievements are supported. The settings menus are extremely bare bones and include the ability to reset the game (and delete the save data), sound and music settings, Google+ sign in, social media links, and the credits.


Monumental Valley

PROS
  • The level design is breathtaking.
  • The game mechanics are easy to learn and enjoy. The difficulty is in the puzzles.
  • The music, level design, and game play all work together to create an experience.
  • It has Google Play Games Services (achievements).
  • Minimal menus keep you in the game, not in the settings.
CONS
  • $3.99 can be steep for some people.
  • The game hints at a story line, but it's very shallow. Don't expect to get too attached to Princess Ida.
  • Non-game animations (such as between-level animations) are slow and become tedious after so many levels.
9.0

Overall, Monument Valley is an amazingly beautiful title. It’s a lot like Osmos HD where the fun isn’t necessarily in the game play but rather the experience of the game as a whole. It’s sound almost spiritual but that’s what makes it so much fun. The care and cleverness of the developers when designing the levels is clearly evidence and the nearly seamless merging of music, sound effects, level design, and game play is truly a sight to behold.

It is a little short, but depending on how clever you are, levels can take a long time to beat. Also, it is a puzzle game and a platform game and there are people who don’t enjoy those genres even if it’s a truly unique title. It’s $3.99 which may be a little steep for some people but if if you’re in the mood to play something unique and different, we consider it $3.99 well spent. Click the button below if you want to see more.

google play

Check out the last indie app of the day: Make It Rain
Check out the next indie app of the day: Circix

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