Critical Play: Puzzles – Ji Hong Ni

Monument Valley is an indie puzzle game developed and published by Ustwo Games. The objective of the game is to guide princess Ida through a series of mazes of optical illusions and impossible objects while manipulating the world around her to reach various platforms. The color palette for each level is super cohesive that really helps bolster the overall narrative. The audio background also helps with this overall sensory immersion. 

The puzzles of Monument Valley are mainly optical illusions using the graphics on your screen. Sometimes paths could end but another part of the illusion could be a new path, you never know. Therefore, you need to try to walk into everything to see if anything is an illusionistic path. Otherwise, the other way to interact with the puzzles is by tapping and/or touching the screen where something could change in the environment that allows princess Ida to move through. The different types of fun that Monument Valley encompasses are discovery, challenge, and submission. The world is new, filled with abstract obstacles, and exploration of unknown territory. You can also describe it as fantastical since the color and music do enhance these fantasy-like qualities. 

There are not too many rules in this game besides paths you can go on and paths you can’t. And to get princess Ida closer to home, you must complete each level of the puzzle. Sometimes, we can also trigger different cut scenes that help move the story forward. The boundaries of this game is the virtual world it’s in and the screen that its played on (iPhone, iPad, etc). The simplicity of the game, matched with beautiful audio and visuals really makes Monument Valley a game to be sucked into but also one that has the right level of balance in terms of optical and mechanical puzzles. The feeling when you get something right or pass a level is a serotonin charge! 

About the author

Junior studying CS with an Art Minor :)

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