Game

Impossible architecture and hidden paths. Fortunately, this is a world of abstract beauty, not dodgy builders.

Monument Valley is the most frustrating of creations, on account of it being achingly close to perfection. White-robed protagonist Ida finds herself in a world of impossible monuments, Escher-like architecture peppered with switches that open new pathways, which she seems unable to reach. By dragging the screen to rotate structures and discovering other components that can be interacted with, the scenery can be manipulated, angular walls suddenly becoming navigable pathways, or jagged and seemingly separate pieces of masonry combining at the perfect angle to fashion a bridge.

 

There’s no way of getting to level’s end…

There’s no way of getting to level’s end…

Combined with gorgeous graphic design and an ethereal soundtrack, Monument Valley’s simple, focussed gameplay makes for an intoxicating whole. Curiosity and play are rewarded, and it’s all too easy to take it in greedily, grinning wildly as you unearth new surprises and create yet more reality-bending constructions. As you move from structure to structure, enigmatic, angry crow people start blocking your way, and a tantalizing story begins to take shape. Each scene is somehow more beautiful and more engaging than the last, providing some of the most gorgeous scenery ever seen in an iPhone game. Every breakthrough is a moment of genuine wonder, and you begin to muse on exactly what is at the heart of the valley, and what its secrets are.

 

… until you realize you’re in an interactive Escher world.

… until you realize you’re in an interactive Escher world.

All too soon, though, it’s all over. You build up a head of steam, only slightly slowed by the challenge of the final two structures that play brilliantly with the abstract and throw in the game’s few confounding puzzles. When the end came, we weren’t filled with glee but instead went away slightly dazed, wishing ustwo had continued evolving the title, taking it further; instead, Monument Valley doesn’t feel fully realized, like it never quite reaches its true potential. Still, that you’re left wanting more says a lot about what you do get — a couple of hours in a world to truly marvel at, manipulating impossible buildings, and feeling a tangible tingle of excitement that savvy developers are still willing to innovate, take risks and create games that are also works of art on the iPhone.

Crows patrol impossible platforms, barring your way.

Crows patrol impossible platforms, barring your way.

Price: £2.49/$3.99
Size: 148MB
Version: 1.0.6
Platform: iPhone and iPad
Developer: ustwo

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Monument Valley Review: Stunning but Short-lived puzzler
One of the most beautiful iPhone games we’ve seen and a fantastic experience — we just wish it had been a bit longer
For
  • Beautiful Visuals
  • Interesting Mechanics
Against
  • Ends too soon
4.2Overall Score