Monumental Valley Critical Analysis

Monumental Valley was created by an indie game studio from London and was launched to all major mobile gaming platforms in 2014. It is a solo-player game, targeting people who don’t consider themselves traditional gamers, and sets its narrative in a super pretty castle where players walk around, rotate bridges, and solve puzzles to proceed to the next level.
– There are no **resources** in this game, and a player can spend all the time in the world just to achieve the **objective**: rotate the world in a way that would allow the players to walk to the next level, that without the rotation, would’ve been physically impossible. What’s most interesting is that in this game, the **rules** that the player must follow stay the same (You can click bridges to rotate them, for example), however, you can apply the rules to change the physical **boundaries** of the game (If you rotate the bridge to the right spot, then the boundary of the game would’ve expanded, which would’ve allowed the player to advance to the next level.
– I believe this game is a very good example of a good logical puzzle, where the players are very familiar with all the rules in advance, and knows that the objective of playing is directly linked with the skillfulness of how one applies the rules they know to change the boundary of the game, and most importantly, the physical controls of the games are super intuitive even to non-gamers, which I think is the biggest selling point of the game.
– I enjoyed Monumental Valley so much better than either Dear Esther or Gone Home that relied purely on aesthetic pleasures and has very limited controls. Compared to the unnecessary rooms in Gone Home that distracted me from the objective of the game, the UI of Monumental Valley was clean & simple, and the controls where I just tap where I want to go were simple enough that I could focus on solving the challenge posed by the puzzle instead of trying to learn the controls.
– I loved how they wanted to make every screen of the game would be a work of art in itself, where the aesthetic experience of moving the bridges around and rotating the entire architecture of the puzzle would be a drawing that they could hang on the wall themselves. More importantly, they brought back physical feedback — from the tiny “clicks” when you rotate a bridge, to the entire screen “shaking” when you solve a small monumental piece, and the “vibrations” you feel when you tap to go somewhere — important feedback mechanisms that replicate real-world physical pleasure sensations. I argue this is so important to a mobile game’s success because these physical feedbacks make the game “real” — just like the physical sensations, one derives from physically rotating a Rubix cube.

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