Monument Valley review: Greater than the sum of its parts

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.5
  • Installation and Setup: 9.0
  • Features and Support: 7.0
  • Interface: 10.0
  • Performance: 9.0
Reviewed:
Updated:

The Good Monument Valley gets a lot of things right, with graphics that are heavily influenced by M.C. Escher, simple controls, and a soundtrack and storyline that suck you in.

The Bad The game is too short. One level requires a specific order of events with no indicators that spell out the process. You can't play in landscape view.

The Bottom Line With jaw-dropping artistic level design and challenges people of all ages can enjoy, Monument Valley is well worth your money.

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Editors' note: This review has been updated with new details from the latest version.

Monument Valley (iOS|Android) is a visually striking puzzle game filled with color and mind-bending 3D visuals. I was sold on it the moment I started playing.

This puzzler won't test your hand-eye coordination, nor is it very long, but the relaxing experience of playing backed by excellent sound design and a mysterious storyline is still worth the price tag ($3.99, £2.49, AU$4.99).

Monument Valley mixes together concepts from the art of M.C. Escher, Japanese woodblock prints and temple architecture from around the globe. What results are visual moments in the game that are worthy of hanging on your wall (with an in-game camera for snapshots), but it still remains accessible enough that both kids and adults will enjoy it.

Trial and error

As a puzzle game there is a certain amount of trial and error in Monument Valley. That's especially true with this game because you'll encounter impossible geometry as you find a path to your goal. Often, you'll rotate a section to discover that a lower platform matches up perfectly with one much higher up. It's all about perspective, but in Monument Valley, changing your perspective changes physical reality.

You play as Ida, a silent princess trying to discover the mystery of Monument Valley by exploring temple-like structures to unlock their secrets. To move Ida, you simply touch where you want her to go.

Certain objects are movable as well, and you'll be able to tell you can move something by finding small circular handles. Sometimes you'll move a bridge to make it accessible, while other times you'll rotate the entire level to see what you can accomplish on the other side. Whenever you get stuck, it's often because you haven't tried everything or moved every available block.

It's not about the challenge

What's interesting in this puzzle game is that it really isn't all that difficult, but it's the process that's so enjoyable. All told, Monument Valley has only 10 levels (with several puzzles in each) that can be completed in under two hours; many of the puzzles are pretty easy to solve once you've studied them for a few minutes.

Instead of the challenge, this game's enjoyment comes from the overall experience of the superb Escher-like level design and eerie soundtrack. As you study each of the beautifully designed levels, it's easy to get sucked into the game's strange world.

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Where to Buy

Monument Valley (iOS)

Part Number: id728293409

$3.99

Quick Specifications See All

  • Category Games
  • Compatibility iOS