Some games thrill you. Some excite you. Some get you addicted for reasons even you cannot figure out. And then there are those games that leave you simply stunned. Monument Valley comes bang into this last category.
Those of you who have read our app reviews in the past will know that we are notoriously difficult to please, but well, we have been playing this game for almost a week and our fascination absolutely refuses to desert us. No, it does not have jaw dropping graphics like Infinity Blade, non-stop action like Asphalt 8, the physics razzmatazz of a Cut The Rope or the strategic intricacies of a Plants Vs Zombies. But what it DOES have – and that in spades – is truly superb graphics blended with some very innovative gameplay.
Monument Valley is an incredibly simple game. All you have to do is help a princess find her way around some rather complicated buildings. In terms of gameplay, it is classic touch to play territory – you simply tap where you want the princess to go and she ambles along to that place very obediently. But of course, there is a twist. This is not a random roam-around. There are many times when the princess seems to have reached a dead end and it is here that Monument Valley comes into its own – you have to play around with levers, revolve pathways and push panels to open a path for the princess. And it gets progressively more difficult as you proceed further in the game as buildings and paths get more complex, and obstacles pop up along the path (irritating crows who stand in your way and caw loudly for one!). Staircases revolve, structures shift, and sometimes the princess can even walk on walls. It is like a Lego world where only some of the tiles can be moved.
This in itself would have been good enough, but what makes Monument Valley skip past ‘good’ and leap into the ‘great’ category is – presentation. The graphics are very much on the minimalistic side as it the music, but put together, their effect is almost hypnotic. You cannot see the face of the princess , who is just a tiny figure, but the detail with which the buildings through which she walks is nothing short of amazing. The game is an architectural marvel and heck, we are trying to figure out a way to get its music because it is understated and yet oddly soothing. And did we point out that there is actually a story behind all this? Yes, there is, and while it does not keep getting pinged in your face, it does enough to keep you riveted. Who are the strange spirit-like people meets inside these buildings, generally towards the end of a level? Why are they sometimes so rude to her? Yes, there are hours and hours of gameplay here, and we recommend playing it on the iPad, simply because the larger brings out the intricacies of building design so much better. Incidentally, at the time of writing, Monument Valley was an iOS-only game, although an Android version is in the works.
In many ways, Monument Valley reminds us of Myst – the classic adventure game in which you were placed in a beautiful world and had to figure out what happened by moving levers, solving puzzles and picking up scraps of strategically placed messages. It was brilliantly presented, extremely simple to play and tested your mind like few games at that time did. Monument Valley shares those virtues. Which makes it pretty much one of the best games we have played on a mobile device. Forget the price tag. Just download it and play it, and get mesmerized. Yep, THAT good.
Available from: iTunes App Store
Price: USD 3.99