Sunday, April 13, 2014

- Game Review - Monument Valley (Pros, Cons, Illusions)

It isn’t quite often we see nicely well put together games coming to appstores, mainly because developers are in it for the quick buck. However when Time and Dedication are put into a game to refine every point of it, we get something like this.
Monument Valley, a game developed by UsTwo Games, which are also responsible for developing other games such as Blip Blup and Whale Trail. This game developer created this amazing piece of work which they state was inspired by M.C. Escher and his most notable Stairs drawings, forgive me for not pronouncing his whole name as it’s in dutch and I rather not mispronounce a name of such amazing talent.
Let’s talk about the introduction of the game, Monument Valley starts off by simply letting the player explore the ways to play the game. In most games nowadays the players hand is held the entire majority of the start, but Monument Valley takes the approach that is similar to games like Sword and Sworcery. It provides guidance but allows the player to explore ways to progress in the game.

Immediately at the start is a simple level, which tells the player how to move and how to manipulate objects in the area. Once this is achieved the game presents a beautiful loading screen, soon after it shows a building that appears to be inspired by Indian Palace architectures. As well as demonstrating once more that manipulating objects is key in this game through the level selection.
While proceeding through the game you notice that the game is telling a story through the levels, similar to Thomas Was Alone. Some of you may be hoping I talk more about the story but I will actually just let you figure that out on your own, rest assured it’s a good one.
Another thing that becomes apparent in the game is how the position and direction you move an object plays a Minecraft like musical note. This didn’t only suit the levels background music but made my experience feel more intact with the game, in a sense that it made me feel as my experience was unique. The objects manipulation is key but the game takes an approach that we haven’t seen since echochrome which might be the only downside I see in the game, which we will talk about in a bit.

Now some key things that we loved about the game is the Aesthetic appeal, it’s so bright and vibrant one can get easily sucked in the game and I mean it. I sat down to record 10-15 minutes of gameplay and I left with an hour of footage. Of course aesthetics was just one of the reasons I was pulled in, since the main reason I was is that the progression in difficulty feels perfect and well justified. I applaud the level design team on how they put it together, especially on the reliance for players to explore ways to manipulate objects rather than depending on holding the players hand.

While there is a lot of good there is a few things that bothered me for a bit, the game is very alike to Echochrome. It felt almost as a reskin of the game but not in a bad way so let me explain. First off Echochrome hasn’t seen another sequel since 2010 so the game pretty much is dead for now, or very low under radar. This game takes a lot from the good of Echochrome but let’s you manipulate objects, which entails to the concept of Echochrome but not the same approach throughout the whole game. Another issue is levels, there is only 10 levels and an issue with puzzles is the replay value is extremely low. Something many may have an issue with is the price tag which is $3.99. You have the decision to make up whether or not it’s worth the value and also to add on is that it is currently unclear whether or not there will be more levels released for the game and at what cost.

Let’s wrap the game up now to give it our rating.

Monument Valley is an amazing game with Aesthetics and Gameplay that remind you of games like FEZ and Echochrome. The game is great for those who are on commute or casually play puzzle games but the experience is short and really suffers two issues from one problem. Levels, the lack of levels shortens the players experience just as it gets good and replay value on a puzzle with 10 levels that present no other challenge but solving which makes it suffer. Another possible issue is the price tag which is coming at $4.00 dollars which isn’t a lot but isn’t on the lower end of the market. That price tag puts it side by side with games like “The Room Two” and “Limbo” which offer a more in depth experience then this game.

It honestly wasn't an easy decision but the game was an amazing idea but unfortunately it feels like the game was just that, an idea. It had everything going from each department, perfect level design, amazing music and great puzzles, but just as it gets good..... it stops. However casually playing this game could take you a day or two most, three if you are lucky. Nonetheless the experience is there and if you have the money it’s something worth picking up if you don’t mind how short it is but due to that shortness it’s shy off perfect which is why it gets four Musical Spinning Objects out of five.

Typos? Be sure to tell us in the comments!

Rating: ★★★★✩ (4 out of 5)

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Lino Cordova, The Gamer Plus Network

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