Heartbroken. That's how I felt when completing the super sumptuous Monument Valley by ustwo, though not because the endgame was in any way sad, more that the game was simply over and I wanted so much more. Monument Valley is good, “game of the year contender” good, and it's clear that the folks at ustwo, whose previous game efforts include the psychedelically cute Tiny Wings-like Whale Trail, and game designer/artist Ken Wong, creator of the cute but forgettable Hackycat, put a lot of craft, love, and secret sauce into Monument Valley as the isometric puzzler neatly threads the needle of perfectly balanced mechanics and overt artistry.
Monument Valley plays simply enough, maneuver the princess Ida and certain architectural elements to navigate through castles, temples, and other constructions that come off as blended concoctions of Indian and Islamic architecture by way of M.C. Escher. You'll soon find though that moving Ida from point A to point B isn't as easy as you thought as Monument Valley's increasingly implausible geometry becomes more and more mind-boggling.
Suitable for framing
The game's “tap to move” controls are well executed and unlike the disappointing Tengami, Monument Valley's protoganist moves at quite the snappy pace, so that in instances where Ida has to backtrack, it never becomes boring or painful. In fact the puzzles are just perfectly executed. Often relatively simple, but never so hard that you'll require an online walkthrough, Monument Valley is just pure pleasure to play, even when your mind can't immediately make the illogical leaps required to guide Ida through the game's twisted landscape. That the game's “suitable for framing” levels (something like Fez meets Sword and Sorcery) are utterly beautiful to look at just makes it that much better.
The game's largest negative, that it is too short, is in effect a positive. It shouldn't take more than a few hours to complete the game's ten levels, but that you will want to finish Monument Valley is, at least for me, a positive, and that there is no filler and no chaff, doubly so. Unlike so many offerings in the App Store today, with Monument Valley you'll play it, you'll love it, and you will finish it. Then like the rest of us who've played it, you'll hope to the heavens that ustwo give us more Monument Valley in the very near future.
Monument Valley by ustwo ($3.99) is available for iPad and iPhone.