Traversing “Monument Valley”

I almost never spend money on apps. Case in point, I’ve owned an iPhone since 2011, and I’ve only spent money on two apps: a Couch to 5K running trainer app and “Monument Valley.”

I had never heard of “Monument Valley” until my sister texted me a screen cap of the intro screen (above) saying, “YOU NEED TO BUY THIS GAME RIGHT NOW!!! It’s the most beautiful game I have ever played.” Considering my sister hasn’t played many video games, I took that with a grain of salt. Also considering the app was $3.99, I was hesitant. Is $3.99 really worth it for a puzzle game? But when my sister texted me the next day saying, “Did you get it!?!” I figured I might as well check it out since 1.) my sister isn’t this adamant about anything that we have in common, e.g. video games, and 2.) it would make her stop bugging me.

MV 4

So I downloaded it this morning, and it’s a fun little puzzle game! It’s like ustwo, the studio who created “Monument Valley,” decided an M.C. Escher painting needed to be interactive and filled with pretty colors. And not only are the levels filled with creative puzzles, there’s an interesting little story line to go along with them.

I keep saying “little” because for $3.99, the game was awfully short. Ten levels that I was done with in less than two hours. Granted that’s less than a movie ticket for the same amount of time in which I’d be entertained, but still, spending money on an iPhone game feels like it should be more of an investment than a quick Sunday afternoon play-through.

I wondered where my sister would have heard of this game, so I Googled it to see if it had recently gotten some publicity or if there was a compelling story behind it. Well, “recent publicity” is probably a pretty gross understatement. The game was featured in House of Cards Season 3. I’m way behind on HoC (I haven’t even watched Season 2 yet… oops), so clearly I had missed its mention there, but no one else did. According to IGN, since the game’s appearance on the show, “the game has soared into the top 10 top paid apps on iTunes, and is currently number three in the paid games category on the Google Play store. The game did not rank in the top 25 on either app store before appearing on the show.” Nothing like some political drama to get your indie puzzle game on the map! (P.S., Although my sister does watch HoC, she isn’t to that particular episode yet. She found out about the game on a blog.)

MV 2

If you’ve seen the game on House of Cards and are thinking about checking it out, or if you’re just looking for something to kill some time with on your phone, I would suggest “Monument Valley.” It’s a pretty game, it’s got great music and sound effects, and it won’t steal all your free time for days on end like “Candy Crush.” One word of caution: if you’re prone to motion sickness, pace yourself. Rotating Escher stairs for two hours maybe isn’t the best for one’s tummy.

I’m always an advocate for games with a story, though. Doing puzzle after puzzle can be entertaining, but when there’s a story–especially one with a princess, and especially one with a princess whose name is the same as one of my sorority’s founders–I feel compelled to reach the end. Although I reached the end of “Monument Valley” more quickly than I had hoped, traversing it was a treat.

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