The Valley

Not that one, the other one.

Monument Valley was a fantastic game when I first played it, and remained a fantastic game when I played it over, and over again. Even though the puzzles are not difficult, and the outcome is known on repeat plays, it has ineffable whimsy and delight. To someone that expects to be challenged by XTREME PUZZLS this game is a disappointment. I’ve also seen people complain about the heaps of praise the game earned. In addition to not being difficult, it is also relatively easy to complete in a matter of a couple hours. There’s no hidden side quests, and no palette-swapped enemies to grind on and elevate ones XP. It’s just pretty pastel colors, and pleasing isometric perspective.

My favorite levels of the original game were the box level, and the level where we were first introduced to the totem. I love the totem. I care about it more than our protagonist. Both of these elements were further explored in the Forgotten Shores expansion that premiered last week.

One-Star Sholes

There was a huge kerfuffle over charging for the expansion. Regardless of whether or not you feel like the way the developers delivered the expansion was appropriate, I think we can all agree Apple’s App Store reviews are completely broken, and unhelpful, in cases like this. People felt entitled to more levels, for free, and so they gave the game one-star reviews, even if they were not intending to buy the expansion. Even if UsTwo Games had released the extra levels as it’s own app, the App Store still lets anyone review something. Any person feeling slighted that there was an expansion could grind their axes on two review scores, instead of one.

Unfortunately, the method for resolving this is just as inappropriate as the source of the problem. Fight fire with fire, they say. There was a call-to-arms and people, that also had not played it, rushed in to defend the honor of the game by leaving positive, five-star reviews.

Good grief.

Forgotten Shores

The game plays like a dream — in more ways than one. The player is presented with the option to play the original game, or download and play the expanded levels. The levels do away with the spinning box with level numbers on the side, and present a straight-forward mapping of levels. The very first involves defeating a balrog.


There is a wonderful little moment where we see a dear friend come to the rescue of our protagonist. Then they ride up through the level, together. They complete a puzzle and they’re outside, on a snowcapped mountain with an impossible object and the goal. Snowflakes flitter about. The attention to layering in detailed atmospheric effects in the expansion really helps create depth, and life, in an environment that is otherwise flat-shaded, and static.

The totem accompanies for several other missions until something unspeakable happens. I wish I had a camera record my face the exact moment it happened, and my world was changed.


The mechanics of the game have also improved with new ways to adjust the terrain, and properties of gravity, in the expansion.

The new-new box even includes clever ways in which reality is filtered through viewpoints through the box. It’s delightfully disorienting.

Fortunately, all is not lost, and we are reunited with able to reunite the totem. Honest to god, without this last level, I might have been one of those one-star reviewers, flipping their ish.

At $3.99 for the original game, and $1.99 for the expansion, it’s still a steal, and I very highly recommend it. The game is worthy of recognition for the visual merit, as well as the gameplay mechanics.

2014-11-18 00:55:12

Category: text