Drawing inspiration from MC Escher, Monument Valley (out now, $3.99) introduces you to a series of palaces, called monuments, which you’ll learn to view and manipulate through varying perspectives.
You’ll explore the world of Monument Valley through its silent protagonist, a white-figured princess named Ida. She roams the geometric palaces alone. The only other creatures to accompany her are some sort of black crows, which will caw at her and stop her from proceeding if they happen to come face to face with her. At times though, the crow creatures will come in handy and assist you in activating switches. On a few occasions, Ida will meet a ghostly guardian who speaks to her in text dialogue, and this is the bit of story the game offers.
Monument Valley is all about playing with perspectives. For instance, two platforms may not appear to be touching or at the same level, but through a change in angle they’ll appear to meet. Your goal is to move Ida from one area to the next, to progress through the intricate monuments.
It’s pretty easy to figure out which parts of the structures may be manipulated. There’ll be switches to step on, gears to turn, or blocks to be slid, and these are demarcated clearly in different manners. In this way, you can create new pathways. Stairs may rotate or unfold, and various parts of the buildings will realign themselves. In one of the later levels, you’ll open an intricate box to reveal and create passageways.
The monument designs are as beautiful as they are smart, and the puzzles offer enough challenge without being overly daunting. The bit of story included within isn’t much, but it fits with the minimalist design.
Monument Valley is a wonder to behold. Despite the game’s brevity (only ten levels), it’s worth playing just to watch how the buildings and structures unfold. There isn’t much replay value, because the game doesn’t offer anything new once you figure out the puzzles. But this is the same for most story/adventure and puzzle games.