Critical Play: Puzzles

For this week’s critical play, I played Monument Valley on my iPad. This game was developed by Ustwo games and designed by Ken Wong. 

Target Audience

Even though the game appears to be for age 4+ on the App Store, I would say this game is better suited for older children/teenagers and adults, as some of the puzzles become quite challenging and could be a bit frustrating for young kids. Anyone who enjoys puzzles and optical illusions would definitely love this game, but it is such a unique and pleasant experience that I think this game has a very broad audience despite the fact that it costs money to play.

I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS GAME! The mechanics of this game in particular are what make it so good. The way this game uses perspective to create optical illusions that blend into the puzzle is brilliant. By manipulating the geometries that build up each level the player must create a path for Ida, the main character of the game, to walk through. By tapping on the point in the path where the player wants Ida to move to, the player guides Ida through the path. A white dot marking the tapped point appears on the screen as long as this is a viable path. In this way, the boundaries of the game are made clear, as no white dot appears when you tap outside of the bounds of the puzzle. In every level, there was a new way that you can manipulate the geometries and the buildings in the level that I had to discover in order to solve the puzzle. You can’t lose this game, you can only win or give up. The creative ways in which you finally end up to keep going keep you hooked wanting to continue and give you motivation when you are stuck.

I would say the main types of fun this game intends are those of discovery, challenge and sensation. 


Discovering how to shift perspectives to rise to a different floor or bridge a gap in space was incredibly exciting. The discovery aspect of fun came not only from discovering the world and the new levels, but also from discovering the clever ways that you can manipulate the environment. The game is designed in a way that the buildings/scenario can shift completely with a minor change through an optical illusion as seen in the screenshots below, where Ida appears to rise to the second storey of the castle with a rotating piece that stays at the same level.



As you advance through the levels, these get increasingly challenging, and the ways in which the player must manipulate the environment requires thinking outside the box to find a way to create a path for Ida. This makes solving each level incredibly satisfying and keeps the player wanting to play more and more to find out how the game is going to challenge them next. 


Playing this game is simply a pleasure. Aesthetically, the color palette works to create beautiful settings for each level, with colors that complement each other and don’t have excessive contrast. The buildings that Ida goes through are very aesthetically pleasing and have unique designs, styles, and orientations. The way perspective changes and mechanics shift the environment is extremely satisfying. The combination of the atmospheric music, the beautiful aesthetics, and the satisfying mechanics make the experience truly pleasurable. 

I thought the narrative of the game was captivating. It really adds to the game if you read all the captions and follow along. However, if I were to change to make the game better, I would make the story clearer or offer an option to go back and read the beginning in case the player skips through some parts of the story and then finds it hard to follow the storyline. 

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