Monument Valley review (iPad/iPhone)
It's rare that you see a game for £2.49 in the App store. It's a also rare that you see a game in the Apple App store that isn't about continuous play or sucking your bank account dry with in-app purchases, ways to complete the level with little effort, or a chance to buy coins to make things happen a little quicker, but then Monument Valley isn't your average game. This is something different and it is not only its delicious charm, but one of the main reasons you'll be happy to pay £2.49 to enjoy what it has to offer.
We've been playing Monument Valley for some time, and although we've completed it, fairly quickly we have to add, we find ourselves coming back to it over and over to enjoy the simple but beautifully designed levels. It is like a beautiful coffee table photography book that you keep on wanting to look at even though you've seen all the pictures before.
Almost a year in the making, the game consists of 10 levels that are beautifully serene.
Inspired by MC Escher, the artist famous for drawing things where things don't always appear to be what they seem, you have to help a faceless girl called Ida through the mazes before her.
Each level is a unique, hand-crafted combination of puzzle, graphic design and architecture. Like listening to an album or walking through a museum for the first time, Monument Valley is about discovery, perception and meaningful beauty.
Players interact directly with the architecture of Monument Valley, twisting and dragging to reshape the world to help Ida to explore. As you manipulate the environment the audio reacts to provide a atmospheric and beautiful soundscape.
The puzzles are logical once you get the hang of the premise, and the touch to walk experience makes it simple to control and play. This is a game about making you scratch your head, only to realise that the answer is staring you in the face all along. By moving one piece of the world in front of you, the mind-bending properties of the patterns reveal themselves and the puzzle can be solved.
It's this constant trickery and optical illusions that will make you experience a number of wow moments while also constantly thinking of the film Labyrinth staring David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly.
When you do experience that wow moment, and trust us when we say there will be plenty, you'll be keen to instantly share with those that are around you and its this magic, from London games developer ustwo, that will ensure you are keen to show anyone that dares ask what you are playing.
Realising this the game does let you snap and send your progress to your friends, and these wow moments are at the heart of what the game is about. It is something that you rarely experience with the likes of Candy Crush or Angry Birds.
In many cases, they aren't even when you've done something that dramatic, but combined with other things that are going on at the time in the game, make it all the more gratifying. To explain what they are specifically though would destroy the moment so we will let you discover them for yourself.
The great thing however is that you can take your time enjoying Monument Valley. It's about working out the puzzle rather than making the jump at the right time, or having to defeat an end of level baddie. It really is serene.
It's not all gushes and blushes however. The game is incredibly short in the grander scale of things and if you are someone that struggles to return to games once you've completed them then you need to look at this as you would a film rental. An enjoyable night in playing, with some resolution at the end, rather than something you'll be playing in 6 months time having got to level 1102.
This will reward your intellect a lot more however.
With its inspiring graphics, haunting music, and at times whimsical gameplay, there is no denying that even the newest gamer will be able to complete Monument Valley, but that's not a negative here and true gamers shouldn't be put off by that either.
Ustwo has somehow managed to reward everyone involved without producing a dumbed down experience that will alienate, just in the same way BAFTA winning game Journey, on the PS3, achieved.
Whether you are new to games or an old hand, Monument Valley is a pleasure to play and you'll relish and enjoy every brief fleeting moment.