Critical Play: Puzzles


Monument Valley, a single-player iOS puzzle game by ustwo games, is by far one of the prettiest games I’ve played. The puzzles are compelling and interesting—especially the puzzles in which you play with perspective—and honestly really refreshing to see. In the past, most of the puzzle games that I’ve played draw upon the use of specific items, the movement of levers, or the movement of outside objects. However, the perspective switches in this game are incredibly impressive and interesting to see.

In Monument Valley, platforms can be separated from one perspective, but connected in another perspective. As the player, it’s your job to figure out how to reach the end goal: a decorated platform, usually at the top of the building the character is on. The only movement your character has is to move (by the player tapping the screen), but you (as the player) also have the ability to move platforms, which are typically marked by circles.

In my favorite puzzle, you must shift the entire building around the z-axis (see the image above on the left) to discover a platform which connects to another in one particular perspective. But for me, while I didn’t play through the entire game, some of the other puzzles were simply not as interesting. In particular, the levels involving the crows seemed much more like the typical timed puzzle games that you’d come across in an average puzzle game. As such, while the creators of the game did add more interesting puzzles to the levels with the crows, I think adding another level of complexity would add significantly to the difficulty of the game.

All in all, this game definitely caters toward those interested in challenge, fantasy, and narrative types of fun. Behind the minute and yet perfected mechanics of the game lies a compelling narrative about a lost princess. Besides a couple of the levels including crows, I was thoroughly impressed by the game as a whole.

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