Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design

5/02/2014

Monument Valley: Escher-inspired mobile game

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

I am not a fan of mobile games, or many games at all actually, so when two friends tell me separately that I should check out Monument Valley, I listen.

Their instincts were right. Made by UK-based company ustwo Games, Monument Valley is a relaxing, addictive puzzle game experience. It doesn't pack in the action like Temple Run. It's also not as mindless as an Angry Birds session. What it is is a beautiful experience that delights with surprise.



In Monument Valley, you play Princess Ida who goes on a mysterious quest through interlocking castle-like mazes that reveal a new facet each time a section is turned or manipulated, much like an M.C. Escher graphic. By turning a lever, stepping on a platform, or swiping across a section, an almost new landscape is revealed.


My husband downloaded the game a few nights ago and I found myself hooked after only a few levels. The game is only meant to be good for an hour, but I've been eking out all I can from it by playing a few sections at a time. Instead of ramping up to finish the game, I savor it like a good scoop of ice cream.

I'm about halfway through the game (I think), but I can already tell this is one of my favorite mobile games so far. It's uniquely suited to an indifferent casual gamer like me. It offers a beautifully rendered environment of surreal landscapes. It employs a pressure-free environment sans time limits and score keeping, which results in a real serene experience.

Most intriguingly, the game only means to be nominally challenging. Neil McFarland, director of games at ustwo says "The puzzles were accessible and solvable: hard enough to be rewarding, but not so hard that people drop out. We found that it’s really easy to make a hard puzzle, but much harder to make one that gets that balance right." In other words, the game isn't a marathon of a mental exercise, but a pleasurable stroll in the park, perhaps with a little sprint thrown in here and there. 

If you're looking for a good break this weekend, this might be worth a shot. 

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