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Monument Valley | reviews, news & interviews

Monument Valley

Monument Valley

A mind-twisting puzzle game that brings MC Escher's worlds to life

'Monument Valley' - an Escher folly brought to life

Much fuss is made about realism in gaming. In the drive to recreate the real world in smaller and more numerous polygons, game developers have had to pass through the “uncanny valley” where things look nearly right but subtly, creepily wrong. The very best CGI can fool the eye but even the most canny next-gen console or PC programmer will still produce in-game graphics that are recognisably fake.

The GardenPhotorealism isn’t the only thing worth striving for, of course. The unreal can be just as, if not more interesting and with “Monument Valley”, Ustwo have crafted a beautiful world that is anything but realistic. It is a world that operates with the logic of optical illusions and leaps of the imagination. If you have ever tried to imagine what it would be like to walk around one of MC Escher’s impossible structures, this game will let you find out.

It looks like a platform game that will require you to leap over gaps and avoid enemies but the only way to move in Monument Valley is by tapping the screen to tell your avatar, a little girl called Ida, where to go. Providing Ida has a clear route to where you tap then she will dutifully walk there and await further instructions. Needless to say there are plenty of obstacles that mean the route is not clear. Gaps, walls, water and strange crow-like creatures who will squawk at Ida until she turns around and walks the other way. There‎ is no death in Monument Valley, just inconvenience.

On each of the ten levels you must guide Ida to a goal. If there is no path for her to walk then it is up to you to make one by manipulating the environment. You can do this by pulling certain platforms around or by guiding Ida onto switches that transform the landscape. You can also, sometimes, rotate the landscape to reveal other aspects. As many of the levels contain Escher-like optical illusions, moving, flipping or rotating can change the perspective and reveal either new details or just new illusions. 

Hidden Temple

The reason this is important is that, in Monument Valley, perspective is everything. If something looks like a path then Ida can walk on it, even if it leads to her walking upside down or up the side of a building. Similarly, two platforms might be far apart from one angle but by rotating the play area it will look to you as though they touch. As soon as this appears to be true then the game’s internal logic says that it is true and Ida can cross the now invisible gap. On a couple of levels Ida is aided by a totem pole-like creature that can be slid around to help her reach certain areas. The crows move around too and you can use them to trigger switches or twist the world to put them somewhere out of Ida’s way.

The level get progressively more intricate and complex but the game isn’t too difficult. It is also short - just ten levels that you can whizz through in an hour or so if you set your mind to it. For all that I would like to see extra levels released in a later update, difficulty isn’t really the point. What is great about Monument Valley is how it pushes your mind into seeing the world through its peculiar lens.

Photorealism isn't the only thing worth striving for


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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