Monument Valley Review: Silent Elegance

Like echochrome before it, Monument Valley is a well-crafted take on manipulating angles to solve puzzles. Wielding the functionality of touch controls, players take on a journey that traces all types of colorful and stunning sceneries to test players’ creativity and perception. Contrasting each level is Princess Ida, the seemingly blank-slate that players lead through each mysterious level.

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Initial release date: April 3, 2014
Developer: Ustwo
Publisher: Ustwo
Platforms: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Kindle Fire

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Now, I love these types of perspective games. Thinking on the depth and beauty of space itself and how it has been fastened together by an even more splendid God, I stand in awe. We all are blessed to be alive. When I think of games that capture that spatial wonder, Monument Valley now takes center stage.

Elegance is the name of the game. Each level is composed of some gear or switch that allows the player to adjust an angle for progression. The mechanics are implemented so well, that it allows control of Ida even when making adjustments elsewhere on the screen.

The musical accompaniment envelopes players in the game’s ambiance, forming a cohesive work of gameplay. The music and sounds work within the environments, capturing that elusive immersion experience developers seek to master.

Many areas challenge the order of what steps are taken, adding just enough difficulty to keep players engaged and those new to digital games interested. Where Monument Valley shines the most is how it brings its story together.

Princess Ida’s adventure reveals itself to be a quest for redemption and over time players discover what Ida’s great mistake is. With each area mastered, Ida returns each piece of “sacred geometry” to its altar. Along the journey, a specter and crow-like people appear, pestering Ida as she tries to accomplish her mission. Unlike others who’ve made the same mistake, she persists in attempting to make it right.

Monument Valley is another example of blending story and gameplay into one. Each puzzle is like an attempt to restore the right perspective in Ida. It becomes more than manipulation of architecture—players aid her in her new understanding.

But players can’t avoid the knowledge that Ida tampers with objects of worship and becomes cursed. These are objects and symbols of idolatry. They became most important to her as she became led astray by her curiosity.

I believe the game suffers from its reliance on sacred geometry, which ascribes spiritual meaning to shapes and patterns, linking understanding to seeing the reality of the universe through such patterns. It gets caught up in the worship of geometry instead of the one who is the author of the universe, Jesus.

I need to take this moment to declare that the only truth and way to God is found in His Son, Christ Jesus. These patterns in and of themselves aren’t holy and will not reveal the truth. The truth has already been revealed in Jesus as noted in Jn 14:6.

Ida made the mistake of putting her trust in this evil practice and paid the price, but without Christ there is no redemption from sin.

Now many developers utilize religion as a simple trope to rely upon when creating game content, but that sadly focuses too much on human achievement.

The subject matter of religion in Monument Valley by itself isn’t wrong. The disconnect here is in obtaining forgiveness, rather than receiving it. The latter is the basis of Christianity.

Monument Valley is a really good gaming experience, focusing on exploration and discovery. It’s a breath of fresh air amid many more aggressive experiences. It shines with a delicate entry point for all players and is definitely worth sharing with others. I’d enjoy seeing more of such experiences, just with the right perspective of glorifying God.