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Monument Valley Review

Monument Valley Review

Monument Valley Review

It turns out that one of most poorly-named games on mobile platforms is also one of the best!


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Genre: Puzzle

I’m constantly complaining about the state of games available on my Android tablet. When I purchased the thing over a year ago, I was hoping it would be a platform I could use to play satisfying games. And by satisfying, I mean “better than Candy Crush.”

And of course, there are games I can play on the tablet. Lots of games. But many of them are super simple, or simple-minded. To be honest, however, even these don’t bother me too much because they are honest about what they are, and (this is key), they run well on the Android platform.

Alas, many games built for Windows get ported to Android and, well, they shouldn’t be. I realize that everyone is chasing after the dollar, and any new sales point is a tempting idea, but that’s no excuse for the plethora of poor ports I’m seeing these days on the Android. I’m talking about games that either are riddled with show-stopping bugs (I’m looking at you, Shadowrun Returns) or run too slowly to play effectively (shame on you Blizzard for your chuggy port of Hearthstone).

Considering these trials that I go through, it’s with great delight that I come across high quality games that run perfectly on Android. Most of the time, no surprise, these are games designed to run on mobile platforms.

It turns out that one of most poorly-named games on mobile platforms is also one of the best! It’s called Monument Valley, and you need to go download it immediately.

Monument Valley is a short, extremely beautiful puzzle game that simply drips artistic merit from every pore. This makes sense, as one of the design missions of the game’s creators is that every screen should stand alone as a work of beauty.

In the game, you play a tiny princess who wears a pointy hat. You have one goal on each level: Get the Princess from here to there. In that way, the game is reminiscent of The Bridge, a PC game that I really like.

In Monument Valley, success is gained by skillfully navigating the environment. You make the Princess move by, well, touching the screen to where you want her to move. The trick is in manipulating her surroundings so she can get where she needs to go.

This manipulation involves changes in perspective and gravity as well as the use of an occasional helper character (literally a couple of blocks stacked together), which you can move as well.

If it sounds simple, it is. The difficulty level ramps up gently, but the game never gets as challenging as The Bridge. And that’s okay. It’s more of a spiritual quest, à la Journey, so the non-extreme challenge level feels right.

The game’s musical score adds to its dreamlike atmosphere. The game creates an intoxicating world that I didn’t want to leave.

By the way, why is it poorly named? Because it has nothing to do with a monument. Or a valley. Or Monument Valley. Not only does the name not give you any idea of what the game is about (not all titles do), it actually suggests things that are NOT what the game is about. It’s a very puzzling choice of title for this particular game.

The game is quite short and only costs $3.99. There’s even an add-on called Forgotten Shores which you can purchase (and which you should) for a $1.99 more.

Grade: A-
Highly artistic visuals and presentation
+ Intriguing puzzles with a gentle learning curve
Dreamy, otherworldly vibe
– Short!




Ray Ivey

Ray Ivey

A gaming freakazoid, Ray enjoys games on all platforms. Also loves board games, mind games, and all puzzles. Co-wrote the Entertainment Tonight trivia game and designed puzzles for two Law & Order PC games. Also a movie freak, bookworm, and travel bug. Thinks games of all kinds are a highly underappreciated force for social good, not to mention mental and psychological health.   Ray's favorite adventures include the "Broken Sword" and "Journeyman Project" franchises, "The Dark Eye," "The Feeble Files," "Sanitarium," "Limbo," "Machinarium," "Riven," "The Neverhood," and "Azrael's Tear." His favorite non-adventures include the "Thief," "Uncharted," and "Ratchet & Clank" franchises, all of the Bioware RPGs, Skyrim, and Final Fantasy XII.   Ray writes about the movies for the Bryan/College Station Daily Eagle, which is the old-fashioned thing called a "newspaper." He's been on eight game shows. He's taught in seven countries and has visited twenty-one. His favorite classic movie star is Barbara Stanwyck and his favorite novel is "The Hotel New Hampshire" by John Irving.

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