backlog-review-monument-valley

Backlog review: Monument Valley

A Shining star in a darkened sky. Writer’s note: Ah, This is my first mobile game backlog review. If you like the game I suggest you also get the forgotten shores DLC which double the game’s length and is super cheap. Ustwo did an amazing job here and I can’t wait to see what they are going to do next. 

Mobile games get an undeserved rep. Sure there are a lot of games marketed specifically to easily impressionable kids and what’s referred to as whales, low-budget licensed games that are made within a day and of course the much hated micro-transactions. But it’s also a unique platform that basically every person owns, is easy to quickly start up and allows for devs to do something really special if they really want to. Not only does Ustwo attempt to deliver a game that perfectly fits the system but it is also a prime example of how games on mobile can be much more than what the general audience perceives of it.

 

How far have you wandered silent princess. 

The story takes the player on a journey with a little white princess named Ida. She’s on a quest to be forgiven for some unexplained event or act but never does the game really explain what happened. There is little plot and a lot is only implied but it’s never really elaborated. It actually works wonderfully with the setting. There is a soothing yet slightly haunting emptiness in this world that is better not explained and left to the player’s interpretation. During the trip trough the Escher-esque world, Ida meets up with a mysterious blue spectre who poetically describes the history of this abandoned world. Just like most of the game, the storytelling takes it easy and calm. The story isn’t that much of importance but nontheless the writing is top notch here. There is little dialogue and what little there is is done with a calm and soothing tone. Ustwo also manages to implement some narrative elements into levels and the gameplay. There is an entire level where the princess meets a CompanionCube-like ally. The player joins a character on her journey for an unexplained redemption and as is often the case it’s more about the journey and less about the destination.

                                                                                                                                                                    Dialog is cryptic and kept to a minimum which perfectly fits the game’s mood.

 

Ida embarks on a quest for forgiveness.

Monument Valley is puzzle game which uses optical illusions as its main puzzle elements. The player must rotate, lift and twist various pieces of the environment to help the little white princess reach doors until at the final screen they need to reach a pedestal. The puzzles are fun and require the player to think a bit more outside the box. You tap the screen to tell where Ida needs to go and then slide your finger across the screen to raise platforms or rotate objects. It feels very engaging and makes you feel as some kind of otherworldly force guiding the girl on her quest. It makes the player feel as if they were a part of this world by ironically making you feel like an outside force. Every level has new and interesting mechanics going on in them and makes every level feel fresh and unique. Most obstacles the player will come across are mostly just a question of getting from point A to B, however nearing the later levels in the game crow-like enemies show up that withhold Ida from continuing and ask the player to instead of kill or defeat the Crows utilize them to finish puzzles. Monument Valley is a fun puzzle game that will make the player go”Oh Wow” but what it will not do is make the player do is “Hmm”. Even though the game was designed to be completable by everyone it poses no challenge at all. Puzzles will be breezed trough for the most part and any time the game does spike its difficulty, the answers can be found in a short amount of time. A decent challenge would have also helped the second problem the game faces. It’s length. There are ten chapters and each take around fifteen to twenty minutes to complete. When all is said and done the game leaves the player wanting for more. Monument Valley is an amazing  game, but it’s two most major flaws are that it’s incredibly short and incredibly easy. It will take players around four hours to complete and after all is said and done it will leave you with an appetite for more.

                                                                                                                                                                         The concept takes some getting used to but once it does it’s incredibly rewarding to solve puzzles.

 

Get transported into Escher’s world. Its concept takes some getting used to but it’s incredibly fun and rewarding solving puzzles.

The game is absolutely enthralling in its stunning beauty. Every screen looks like they should belong in a modern art museum. While the game is very colorful the color palettes of every stage are very mellow and subdued. Just looking at any of the screens is relaxing and it really feels like you are interacting with beautiful pieces of art. It’s clear the people at UsTwo took their time and carefully chose what colors to use and how to use them. What few living beings you see in the game all have a very minimalist design and a specific color theme to complement the rest of the game. Players will always manage to find Ida wherever she is. She stands out but never clashes with the color palettes of the levels or pops out like a sore thumb. The music itself is also very soothing. Most of the tracks consist of ambient sounds. The audio makes the world truly feel empty and deserted with the exception of the object and characters that are present on screen. Monument Valley based it’s concepts and ideas from Escher’s Paintings like Relativity, and at one point even tasks the player to recreate the artist’s famous lithograph; Waterfall. Monument Valley is a very aesthetically pleasing and very soothing game that will make the player stop in their tracks and just take in the beauty of the game’s art. It’s one of the best examples that on a visual level games certainly be can be art.

                                                                                                                                                                         The imagery and color palettes are breathtaking.

Beautiful and soothing.

 

Closing Note:

Monument Valley is an amazing game and one of its kind. It’s a great example of how mobile games can be more than just a quick fix on the can or filled with sleazy business practices. The game shines brightly as a beacon of what can be done on mobile platforms. Its story isn’t revolutionary but it’s presented elegantly and with style much like the presentation of the game in general. The optical illusions which are the entire basis of the game are almost jaw-dropping the first time you see them. After the initial surprise factor wears off the game throws some neat little tricks at you but never do the levels really pose a real challenge. Monument Valley is a game that should be remembered and looked at by its gameplay idea and presentation but not its length or challenge.

9.5/10

 

This game was reviewed on Iphone. If you are interested in this game you can get it from the following places:

IOS devices:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/monument-valley/id728293409?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D2

Android devices:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ustwo.monumentvalley

Windows phones:
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/p/monument-valley/9nblggh3z8pq#system-requirements

I'm a fun loving guy who like piña coladas, getting caught in the rain and long walks on the beach. I work hard, I play hard. Must like cats. Ugos need not apply. If you want to ask me anything you can contact me at yordi.verhoene@gmail.com