Monument Valley – As We Play

Version Tested: 1.00
Platform: iPhone 5S

We have a tendency to compare games if we find common traits and themes. It’s easily done and every critic is guilty of it. In truth, it is nigh-on impossible not to find some similarities between games as almost everything has to follow some sort of established criteria.

Monument Valley can certainly be compared to many other titles that have come before it, and you’ll almost certainly be reminded of many other great games you’ve played as you work your way through. But in doing so, you might feel as if you’re cheapening the experience and underselling its merits as a stand-alone product.

The truth is, Monument Valley sets a benchmark for mobile gaming and is one of the most important apps – in terms of impact and delivery – since Angry Birds.

Monument Valley has a very distinct art style that instantly separates it from anything else you’ve ever seen on your small-screen. The feel of this world with its walking crows, talking totems and swivelling castles weaves a peculiar, yet compelling narrative – one that will be hard to forget.

Simple screen taps will move your pointy-hatted wearing character, Ida, all around the environment, with the dragging of a finger raising platforms and swiping sending everything spinning on its axis. The idea is to reach the end-level portal, doff your cap to it, then enter. No, really. She takes off her hat and does a little curtsey. It’s pretty sweet, actually.

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As you might expect, the game has some fiendish puzzle-solving, though it never gets painstakingly overbearing. Whether you’re pressing down switches to move the environment into different locations Your character is, essentially, defenceless and it’s up to you to navigate the path uncontested and reach your destination without getting overrun. Some enemies will be decidedly more ruthless than others and certainly the deeper you get into the game, the more challenging it gets.

The 3D modelling is superb and looks just as wonderful with dark, dank corridors, as sunlit, bright-red vibrant cities. Monument Valley is a smooth, beautiful game that responds and controls dutifully and elegantly. I never once encountered an issue with mistargeted direction or stuttering in the middle of a pathway. The game is always paying close attention to the player and never seems to get distracted with its environment. It’s some of the smoothest controlling I’ve ever seen in a touch-screen title.

Ustwo have crafted a simply wonderful title that oozes character and substance, as well as plenty of style. Monument Valley was a genuine pleasure to play through and remains satisfying and sensational throughout. One could argue it’s slightly short for the £2.99 price point, but it’s certainly a title you could find yourself going back to several months down the line, especially if you need reminding of how good mobile games genuinely can be when you’ve played through your fifth half-arsed app of the week.

From top to bottom, it is lovingly crafted and designed and has remained in my thoughts ever since I finished it. Even the music is delightful and manages to succeed in not making you want to switch to a personalised soundtrack or turn it off altogether.

Areas for Improvement

  • It’s a little too short
  • Additional packs could be added with new puzzles and changes in level-design

Final Analysis

This is a true treasure. A wonderfully thought-out, well-designed game that we cannot find fault in. We are blown-away with its quality, vision and gameplay and will definitely be revisiting this one again and again in the years to come. Magnificent.

Technical Competency – 10/10
Graphic/Sound Quality – 10/10
Network Stability – N/A
Overall – 10/10

About the author

Ray Willmott

Ray is the founder and editor of Expansive. He is also a former Community Manager for Steel Media, and has written for a variety of gaming websites over the years. His work can be seen on Pocket Gamer, PG.biz, Gfinity, and the Red Bull Gaming Column. He has also written for VG247, Videogamer, GamesTM, PLAY, and MyM Magazine,