There’s been a lot of hype around the release of ustwo’s Monument Valley this week. Believe it.
While it didn’t quite blow my mind the way Fez did when it first came out, Monument Valley surpasses Fez in two areas: accessibility and atmosphere. Touchscreen controls lower the game’s barrier to entry significantly. Do you have fingers? Do you know how to touch things? You now know everything about how to control this game. The puzzles are just challenging enough to be satisfying without tipping over into frustration. I feel fairly certain that any reasonably intelligent human (regardless of age) could make it through the game under two hours.
What really makes Monument Valley so very worth it, though, is the atmosphere it creates. Pretty much everyone agrees that the game is beautiful. But, what I found most compelling was how very lonely it felt. With little in the way of exposition, I felt… well, sad for Ida. The cold precision of the game’s architecture, its “sacred geometry,” were so inhospitable and isolating. Yes, beautiful. Yes, fascinating. But, holy shit, could someone give this little girl a hug? [SPOILERS] Ida does meet a friendly face (eye?) along the way, but that momentary friendship leads to the saddest moment in the game.
I suppose it all works out in the end, but, honestly, I didn’t find the resolution alleviated those feelings. I still left the game feeling lonely and a little sad, but, maybe that’s just how it goes when you take a solo trip to a forgotten land. It can bum you the fuck out, but you’re far richer for the experience.
Also, you get some pretty sweet postcards.