There are a lot of good-looking games in the App Store now that the newest iOS devices run on a 64-bit processor. However, “good-looking” usually refers to graphics, which I think is fantastic, but hyper-realistic racing games don’t have to rule the good-looking category. Sometimes, games that are artistic, abstract, and surreal are just as pretty, if not more.
Monument Valley is a game that looks so good it could be your iPad’s Home screen background image. In fact, the game’s developers thought so too and added a feature that lets you take a picture of the screen to save in your photo library.
The game is made up of a series of buildings, or monuments, each with an end platform that you must help Princess Ida reach. There are pathways that rotate and move up and down to help guide her to the final destination. Sometimes, a path will seem impossible to cross, but if you rotate a path or building in a particular direction, the new view will reveal a connection that wasn’t there before.
For example, on one of the first levels, Ida is at the bottom of a monument and a rotating pathway is above her. It seems like there is no way to get her up to the path above, but when you rotate it, suddenly the top connects to the bottom and you realize that it was all an optical illusion to trick you.
As the levels progress new elements are added to the game. For example, on one level, Ida will be faced with trying to avoid some particularly annoying birds that just wont get out of the way. Later, Ida will meet a friendly totem that will help get her across areas that are otherwise too high for her to reach.
In addition to being filled with interesting and complex puzzles, the game’s artistic design is something to behold. The surreal architecture is not unlike the mind-scrambling sketches of M.C. Escher. Stairs appear to lead to nowhere, but when Ida walks across them, the pathway suddenly reveals its true nature. The Zen-like soundtrack helps keep you calm as you explore the unusual buildings.
The only thing missing is a hint system. If you get stuck, you are out of luck. The only way to solve an unsolvable puzzle is to go online and find out if someone else has done it yet and copy the solution. Hopefully, a hint system will be added in the future.
Monument Valley is available on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch for $3.99. Download it in the App Store today.