Monument Valley App Review: Escher Puzzling for Mobile
Monument Valley is a visually exquisite, mind-bending puzzler, that I picked up in a recent splurge on a non-free apps binge. I had been eyeing it for quite some time, and the recent boost in coverage it got by being featured on House of Cards was enough to push it to the top of my list. It was an excellent choice, and I enjoyed playing through the 10 levels in the basic game. I only found out after purchasing that Monument Valley was developed by ustwo, creators of the up beat infinite “flyer” Whale Trail – a game I enjoyed immensely and still occasionally pick up today.
Intuitive Mind Bending
The first layer of Monument Valley is basic geometric puzzling. It’s not hard to see that you want to navigate the protagonist “Ida” from point A to point B. Without any instructions the game’s visual and audio queues quickly train you what to look for. Very soon after though, you start to encounter the need for paths that don’t make physical sense. Herein lies one of the great beauties of the game, in how perfectly these Escher-like paths are crafted and displayed. I even slightly lament that I had not somehow happened on this game without already know that this type of puzzle was what the game was about – because puzzle mechanic discovery is totally my jam. The “Escher-puzzling” feels very satisfying, and in terms of accessibility I’d even give it a slight edge on The Bridge, a game I thoroughly enjoyed, because the puzzles feel like they require less idle experimentation to understand. Its hard to pinpoint exactly why the puzzles feel so accessible, but I think it has something to do with the touch interactions and the excellent “interaction sounds”, which help to make the puzzle dialect of the game easy to pick up.
If you check out the App store reviews, you’ll notice a trend of reviews that laud Monument Valley as beautiful, creative, fun, and overpriced. To me this is another sad example of the App Store pricing mind warp that sucks all game concepts towards F2P models and scares smaller scale Indie experimenters away from mobile altogether. Yes, at full price this game costs as much as a Big Mac at McDonalds or a large coffee at Starbucks. At the current price of gas you might be able to drive an average new car for 45 minutes for the price of this App. When I think about considerations like these, it’s not hard at all for me to say the price of this App feels worth it. However, the “App Store culture” of F2P Trojan horses has bent my mind a little too, and I can level with folks who feel like this game is of comparably less value due to its duration. When I step back from it though, I realize it isn’t that Monument Valley isn’t worth $4, it’s that many comparable excellent games are under priced for their level of value. It comes back to the marketplace forces that have created irrational pricing behavior for so long its become the norm. I believe the App Store will eventually grow out of this phase, but the only way out is a gradual reality check of purchase democracy in which consumers vote with their dollars for content that is good. Until we as mobile gamers can recognize the value in spending a few dollars on a good game, we can’t expect many good non-F2P games to come our way. /soapbox
So I enjoyed Monument Valley and if you hadn’t noticed I think it stands out as a game that is worth the non-free price tag. What do you think? Leave a comment and let us know!
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The kind of polished puzzler that is worth a few bucks to experience. A welcome break from F2P shenanigans.