You know that feeling when you’re experiencing something so incredible and all-encompassing that there’s no room left to find the words to describe it? When all your senses are being pinged and it’s impossible to do anything but let the experience envelope you? That was what playing Monument Valley was like for me.
I can’t remember the last time I’ve played a game that had me so taken by the very first screen. From the second I began Monument Valley I already knew I loved everything about it, but then that love expanded into so much more.
Its Escher inspired world astounded me with its interconnected architecture and disregard for gravity. Pathways bent, folded, and took new forms before my eyes, often by way of my own touch. Monument Valley never shows you the same thing twice, and yet its rules are so consistent that the unusual logic of its world makes perfect sense and helps guide you along, while still finding new ways to surprise and delight with each screen.
This playfulness is contrasted by a deeply melancholy undertone. There’s the sense that something terrible has happened to the monuments you’re traveling through, with mysterious lines of dialogue hinting that you may have been the one responsible. This distressing mystery adds a great deal of weight to the proceedings, giving new context to the strange birds that watch you from the ledges, and the loneliness of the structures that are so beautiful and yet so barren.
Monument Valley doesn’t let its sadness consume it though. It’s not a tragedy, but a story of forgiveness, absolution, and reconciliation. When so many games seem trapped within their own pessimism and damnation, Monument Valley wants to give you hope, and the effect it had on me leads me to believe it achieved that goal. There were times throughout the game where I felt like crying as everything seemed to slip further and further away, but then by the end that feeling was replaced by one of warmth and joy.
Monument Valley reminded me of the effects games can have. It showed me how much the endless darkness and narcissism of many modern games had been eating away at me, and more than simply showing me that, it gave me something meaningful to be filled with instead. It’s been a long time since I could say I truly loved a game with no reservation or hesitation, and I’m so glad Monument Valley is that game.