Monument Valley is an elegantly-designed puzzle game with intriguing challenges and polished mechanics. You guide Princess Ida through ten Escheresque levels on a journey of discovery and forgiveness. Along the way, you meet crow people, befriend totem creatures and traverse seemingly-impossible optical illusions.
Mechanically, the game is reminiscent of games like Fez, where changes of perspective can create paths for Ida, but it is delightfully tactile on the iPad as you drag, rotate and tap your way through the levels. Each level employs a different mechanic, and their introductions are so subtle and intuitive that you don’t notice their presence. Some of the later puzzles are tricky, but aren’t so difficult as to be frustrating. Even if you get stuck, there are only a few things you can do, so it’s not too hard to find the solution.
Likewise, cues such as different colors and sound effects are effective in guiding gameplay, and deeply enhance the experience. Visually, the art style presents what would otherwise be relatively mundane in breathtaking beauty. Although minimalistic, each screenshot looks like a work of art, and there is even an ingame Camera Mode to capture these images for yourself.
Although Monument Valley is aesthetically lovely, the thin plot used to connect the puzzles together isn’t particularly compelling, and doesn’t do much to motivate the gameplay. Also, with only ten levels, the game is quite short and has limited replay value. For the vague narrative and simplistic art style, that’s probably appropriate. However, additional levels in the DLC and the limited edition level, Ida’s Red Dream (until December 7) are available to extend the game for those who seek more.
As far as puzzle games go, Monument Valley isn’t particularly challenging, but the slick integration of stunning visuals, clever level design and atmospheric sound effects go far to provide a wonderful gaming experience.