By Selene San Felice
Monument Valley, otherwise known as Frank Underwood’s favorite game in the third season of House of Cards, might just be your new favorite game too. Released in Spring 2014 for iOS and Android, and April 2015 for Windows Phone, the game is described by indie studio Ustwo, as, “an illusory adventure of impossible architecture and forgiveness.” Monument Valley has won 14 awards since, including Apple’s “iPad Game of the Year” for 2014 and the British Academy of Film and Television’s “Best Mobile and Handheld” award for 2015.
In the single player game, users lead princess Ida through colorful, dimension-defying maze puzzles full of illusions and impossible objects. Players must find hidden passages and use moving pillars and platforms to create bridges for Ida so that she can reach a vaguely referenced “forgiveness.” Occasionally players can also command Totem, Ida’s friend, who is a living, yellow pillar that assists her journey. While the plot is illusive, players will find themselves more pleasantly puzzled by how the game itself functions.
Each level is ever more stunning as princess Ida is guided through the “sacred geometry.” Ida tip-taps her little legs up stairs, around corners, through doorway portals and over walls or ceilings deemed impossible by other games (and reality). Running on pristine visual animation quality, Monument Valley creates its illusions using isometric projection, a method used by engineers to represent three dimensional objects in two dimensions. Although squawking crows are used as roadblocks and puzzles can get quite challenging, the game is so visually pleasing that paired with its tranquil soundtrack and effects (crashing waves, crumbling rock, music notes struck by moving platforms) Monument Valley becomes an equally relaxing and mind-bending experience.
With ten levels and a bonus “Ida’s Dream,” Monument Valley has an estimated hour and a half total play time. For a short amount of play, the game is a bit pricey at $3.99, but some lucky users were able to play for free in Dec. 2015 when it was featured as app of the week in the iTunes App store. Seven additional “Forgotten Shores” levels are available with a $1.99 in-app purchase, and bring the estimated total play time to three hours, according to howtobeat.com. Those stats are by avid gamers, so unless players are looking to race through something that’s notoriously relaxing, Monument Valley’s play time can be savored in plenty of stress-busting sessions before bed or between classes. The game is also available on Google Play for Android, Kindle Fire and the Windows Phone Store.
Selene San Felice can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.