The other night, as I fired up my iPad and visited the App Store I noticed an intriguing game called Monument Valley.
Now I had heard of this a little while back but, not being a huge gamer, it completely left my mind. But, I’m a fan of puzzle games and I really like optical illusions. This looked like a cool game to try out, so I plonked down my 5 Aussie dollars and thought I’d try out a couple of levels before I got productive. You know where this story is headed, right?
Monument Valley is as much an architectural design masterpiece as it is a completely consuming puzzle experience. It’s a calm, meditative game that gives you control of a little character called Ida, and the purpose is really quite simple. Navigate Ida on these three dimensional platforms that use the mind bending optical illusions of the never ending staircase or the triangle that seems to have an impossible physicality.
You can manipulate certain specific components to create bridges, or simply twist the whole puzzle piece as a whole. There are crows that block your path on some levels and you have to use your wits to get around them, or even block them from obstructing your journey.
You know what? I’ve just told you about the game, but like any good art, you have to experience it yourself. There’s no urgency or time limits, there’s no death or violence, there’s just these amazingly designed environments that offer a graphically beautiful, almost tactile space. It seems to be made of four dimensional Lego pieces, in fact I wouldn’t be surprised if someone was currently trying to replicate these levels with real Lego pieces.
This game, Monument Valley, unlike many games I’ve tried in the past, is not a port or a reinterpretation of a previous title. It’s been built from the ground up to be a native touch screen experience, and after completing all 10 levels, I’m actually looking forward to going back and looking at each level in more detail to see how they built such a brain twisting and enjoyable, immersive journey.
On a more macro scale, Monument Valley could be another watershed in touch screen app development. I don’t know of any other game quite like it, and given the ipad and tablets per se have been around for a while now, that’s quite an achievement. It really shows off the true power and purpose of hi resolution, responsive touch screen devices.
Now the bad news, Monument Valley is for the iPad exclusively right now, but apparently an Android version will be coming soon (update, it’s available NOW). When it does, do yourself a favour and grab Monument Valley. If you have any interest at all in gaming that stretches the mind, and gets you thinking literally out of the square, then it’s worth your while.
Oh and I’ve already noticed a bunch of walkthroughs for the game that people have posted. Don’t use these to get through the levels, they’re not that hard and you’ll get that little ‘eureka!’ buzz when the lightbulb goes off in your head.
What about you? What games do you play when you need a few moment’s distraction?