Critical Play: Puzzles – Jason

Name of game: Monument valley

Creator: ustwo Games

Platform: iOS

Target Audience: anyone!

Important Formal Elements of the game:

The rules of the games are pretty straightforward. You can only walk on surfaces as allowed by the rules of physics, and you need to avoid crows that are on your way. The objective is to make it all the way from the beginning of a world to the end of it, by rotating different blocks and columns to create a pathway. The game consists of several worlds (levels) and you need to make it all the way to the end.

Type of fun game intended, and if it met its goals:

One type of fun intended is narrative. As we complete different levels of the game, we uncover pieces of the story of the silent princess Ida as she goes on her quest for forgiveness. Another type of fun is exploration. Through Ida, we can explore so many monuments and worlds. Players have the ability to take different pathways and explore where they lead to. Another type of fun, probably the main one in my opinion, is aesthetics. The worlds are really beautiful and pleasing to watch! They also contain several optical illusions (really creative!) that get us marveled at how they actually work. The architecture of the monuments has been thoroughly thought out to create such optical illusions. I personally really liked the game because of the aesthetics! Overall, I do believe the game met its goals, except perhaps slightly for the narrative one which could be improved (as I explained in the last paragraph)

Moments of particular success or epic fails:

One particular moment of success was when I was finally able to figure out how I could avoid the crows on my pathway. The trick was that I had to wait in some corner away from the reach of the crow, then turn a lever to make the crow walk on a different surface, and finally turn the lever back so that I could walk to the other end. Other moments of success involved figuring out how the optical illusions worked since they are really creative and beautiful to watch once you figure them out.

One epic fail was when I accidentally went back down the pathway that I initially came through. It was confusing because with all the optical illusions it is sometimes hard to tell which way I just came from. Another time I did not realize that a column could be moved because its lever was physically far away from the column itself, which caused me to be stuck for a long time.

Things you would change to make the game better:

One thing I would change about the game is adding more animations and sounds to the game. I feel like the game overall is very relaxing and adding some relaxing music to the background could further help enhance such an atmosphere. Besides, when you finally get to finish a level, it is slightly underwhelming as you are only brought back to the beginning of a different world. I feel like moments of success like finishing a level could be celebrated with more animations for instance. Finally, I thought that the story of the game progressed quite slowly. Only one tiny piece of a story would be revealed after completing certain levels. I feel like it would be cool if there were different characters on the pathways that Ida could talk to and that would help players have a better understanding of Ida’s story. Furthermore, the creators tried to create different worlds for different parts of the story but they all seem pretty similar to me. Making sure the worlds are more closely connected to the story would enhance the narrative a lot.

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