Critical Play: Puzzles

Monument Valley

Target audience: Ages 4+, those who enjoy simple aesthetic games, puzzles, simple storylines.

Created by: ustwo games

Formal elements:

Players: Single player vs. game

Procedures: Move the player on the map along the paths, manipulate the environment to create new paths to get to the end state.

Rules: You can only walk on paths along the same plane.

Outcomes: The player advances to the next round of puzzle mazes. There is no loss unless a player gives up.

Type of fun:

Challenge: Players need to be creative about how they can construct interesting and trippy paths for the character to walk on. Some of these ideas are not immediately intuitive so it requires some thinking.

Submission: I would say that there is an element of submission in this game since it is quite simple and very aesthetic. It is a calming game to play and there is no sense of urgency unlike some other puzzle games.

Narrative: There is a simple storyline about a princess on a quest that I honestly did not pay much attention to, but it does add to the experience.

Success and Failures:

Since this game is pretty simple, I like that the storyline is simple too. To be honest, I skipped over the short narrative sequences since the storyline overall is not a big part of the game. If the developers want the story to have more significance, they might need to make the game more complex and make the cut sequences more interesting and less skippable.

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