Critical Play – Puzzles


Monument Valley








Target Audience:

Teenagers to younger adults because of the complexity of some of the puzzles, people that enjoy puzzle games 


Types of Fun: 

Challenge, fantasy



The core mechanic in Monument Valley is being able to manipulate the environment in order to get the character in the game from one place to another. Buildings can be rotated or turned and there are switches for example that activate or reveal new architecture. A player of this game must figure out in what ways and order they must manipulate the setting in order to complete the game. This mechanic creates a dynamic that requires players to see this made up world from different perspectives. They must see how different permutations of moves and structure can achieve the goal of moving the character. This in turn creates a challenge type of fun. The world is one entire obstacle that the player must manipulate in order to win. The mechanic of the character being able to move and exist on all degrees, planes, and dimensions also creates a dynamic of tearing down one’s existing framework of how physics work in the real world. A player of this game truly must scratch what they understand about how physical objects really move in order to get their character to pass the level. This tearing down of what we know to be physics creates a fantasy type of fun. While playing, it made me wonder how I would navigate our existing world if the rules of the game were applied to real life. 

Setting elements also add to the overall great experience of the game. Non-core visuals such as birds passively flying around or flags waving in the wind makes the game more immersive. While thinking over how to solve certain levels, I found those passive aesthetic elements to be calming. The warm colors of the world made the challenges more inviting and made me more willing to play the game. For example, if I got frustrated playing certain levels and the visual world was not as inviting or friendly, I think I would find myself wanting to give up sooner or getting angrier. The visual appealing aspects made even frustrating parts more enjoyable. 

In terms of improvements, I think there could be more hints presented to players after some amount of time or number of moves. If puzzles get too difficult, then it would likely turn people away from continuing to play. Adding some suggestions after some metric or simply having hints available that the player can toggle on at their discretion might be helpful.

Overall, the mechanics along with the visual design of the game makes this a great puzzle game that keeps users engaged even when puzzles may get more difficult.

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