December App Review: Monument Valley

App: Monument Valley
Developer: ustwo
Price: $3.99
Platform: iOS, Android, Kindle Fire

I know Monument Valley came out last spring, but I hadn’t actually played it until a few weeks ago.  Monument Valley recently jumped back into the spotlight after they released an expansion pack, Forgotten Shores.  The extra press Monument Valley got was enough to convince me to buy the game, and I must say that it’s the best $4 I’ve spent on the App Store in a very long time.

Monument Valley is a puzzle game that involves moving the environment around you, the buildings and bridges, to reach your goal.  Monument Valley isn’t particularly hard, but it’s delightful.  That’s not a word I use often, but in this case, it’s not one I use lightly either.  The graphics are beautiful, and the soundtrack is just as good.  Most importantly, Monument Valley has this M.C. Escher thing going on with it (see images 2-4).  I’m constantly thrilled and amazed when two objects that shouldn’t line up somehow do.  It’s really neat.

The original game includes 10 chapters for $3.99.  Forgotten Shores, an expansion pack, was recently released as an in-app purchase for an additional $1.99.  When this happened, some people got rather angry.  They felt that, having purchased the game, they should get the additional levels for free.  ustwo, however, put a ton of time, effort, and money into Monument Valley, as well as into Forgotten Shores.  I think it’s perfectly fair for them to charge for new levels; I for one happily paid another $2 to get more levels of a game I had already greatly enjoyed.  Unfortunately, the way app store pricing currently works, it sometimes seems you have to make your app free in order for anyone to download it.  Free apps are great, but I also support people like ustwo who make quality apps and aren’t afraid to charge for them.  Monument Valley has met with huge success; a testament to the fact that other people share this appreciation for quality.  (If you’re interested in hearing an excellent interview with one of Monument Valley’s developers, including conversations about Forgotten Shores pricing, listen to this episode of the Inquisitive Podcast.)

There is also one final chapter of Monument Valley, Ida’s Red Dream, which is a part of the (PRODUCT)RED campaign.  (PRODUCT)RED is a charity working to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa.  Apple has participated in (PRODUCT)RED for a long time, offering special red iPods and other products.  A portion of the proceeds from these products, available only in Apple Stores and on, go to (PRODUCT)RED’s charity.  For several weeks, many apps on the App Store have released (PRODUCT)RED versions.  These apps feature special red app icons, and most include special in-app purchases.  Proceeds from these purchases go to (PRODUCT)RED.  If you purchase Monument Valley during the (PRODUCT)RED promotion (November 24-December 7), you’ll get Ida’s Red Dream for free, otherwise, it’s an additional $0.99.  It will not be available after December 7.

Overall, Monument Valley is a really fun game.  It is short, but it’s so beautiful and enchanting that it’s definitely worth playing.  Now if I could just pull some M.C. Escher folding trick on the roads around here to make my commute to school shorter…  ••


4 thoughts on “December App Review: Monument Valley

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