New app is a monument to impossible geometry

First impressions

Those who regularly read this column will know that I am a huge fan of puzzle apps. Maybe it’s my love of maths, or solving problems, or my need to avoid any kind of meaningful work that draws me to them. Whatever the reason, I seek them out, and when I come across a really good one, I like to share it with the world.

I confess that I didn’t go to a lot of trouble to find Monument Valley. I was in the App Store, searching for a weight loss app that had been recommended to me, and saw that the Editor’s Choice for this week was a rather unusual app. I completely forgot about my initial task (as I am wont to do now I’m over the age of 40) and found myself intrigued by this new distraction. From what I could read in the brief description, it seemed to be right up my alley. I didn’t even think about it, I simply forked over the \$3.99 and waited for Monument Valley to begin.

How it works

There is minimal instruction, but it shouldn’t take you long to grasp the concept…or so you’ll think at the beginning. The design is crisp, clean and colorful, coupled with a story that is both confusing and intermittent. The latter won’t hold you back in any way, you just might find it difficult to follow exactly why you’re taking a princess through various mind-bending dreamscapes.

Your little figure has to be moved around the three-dimensional “board” so you can get her through a doorway to the next level. You simply tap where you’d like her to go, and she’ll move in that direction…unless she can’t. When presented with obstacles or a lack of stairs, she waits until you figure out how to bridge the issue so she can move forward.

The levels quickly become more intricate, with levers and pulleys that move sections in certain ways. When activated in the correct sequence, they will create new pathways so your princess can advance.

There are points she must reach throughout the space that will adjust her surroundings, enabling her to move on. It won’t be long before you realize that this app is so much more than it initially seems. Touches of Escher begin to appear, in that suddenly your princess can walk along the side and upside down, and a small twist of the castle or box she occupies makes possible a pathway that previously seemed impossible.

The crow people show up fairly early on, annoying creatures that get in your way. You must use the tools at your disposal to thwart their attempts to stop the princess.

Once in a while a glowing mentor or wizard of some ilk appears, spouting something that will hopefully make sense later on. Pay attention as much as you can, just in case.

Very important words to the wise: with minimal instruction comes the odd wrong turn. I am not referring to the actual playing of the game; I’m talking about tapping the circular icon in the top left-hand corner. It reveals a drop down menu that allows you to take a photo of your screen, but there is also an option that will take you right back to the beginning of the level you’re on. Beware the shape in the top right-hand corner.

When I played

I was blown away by Monument Valley from pretty early. Everything about it is interesting, beautiful and precise. When I couldn’t get past a certain stage, I didn’t wonder for a moment if there was a bug in the app (the ego on me) – I just knew I had missed something.

As the Escher influences revealed themselves, I was even more intrigued. At times it was like trying to see those 3-D paintings that were so popular back in the ‘90s – I had to slightly adjust my vision to seek paths I might have overlooked.

I will confess that a few times when I got stumped, I walked away from it for a bit (like 15 minutes), but it wasn’t long before I was at it again, determined to continue. You might say I was addicted; in a good way.

Final thoughts

If you’re not picking up by now that I am already a huge fan of this app, then now’s the time to tell you – I love Monument Valley. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen before, and if you love puzzles, you’ll be hooked too. Even if you think the story is bonkers because you can’t make heads or tails of it, you’ll keep going because you thrive on the feeling of solving a problem, and maybe you want to find out what the heck this princess is looking for anyway.

I encourage you to download it immediately. For \$3.99, it’s absolutely worth the money.

Pros:

Beautiful design.

Terrific puzzles.

No in-app purchases.

Cons:

Not enough levels.

I want more levels.

Cost: \$3.99

Seller: ustwo™

Devices: iOS (Android coming soon)

Rating: E for Everyone

Four stars

How to get to the top tower?