I recently discovered a phone game called Monument Valley. The games’ colors and use of shapes that physically don’t make sense is what originally drew me in.
The game requires you to move a small character (who I will explain in the latter half of this post)through various levels which operate as puzzles. In order to move her, you must slide, rotate and step on different pieces to guide the character through the mazes. The goal is to reach the square, striped block and replace the shape on it, which is kept in your hat. The following picture shows the kinds of shapes you can make that physically do not make sense. Though for this game, that is not what
matters. The only important part is that the shapes look like they fit together.
The game is broken up into ten chapters, each have a title, which is what I found to be very interesting. The game has a story line which is brought to life through the chapter titles and the minimal dialogue that occasionally takes place in the chapters. As a player, you are given very little detail as to what happened, but you are given small clues for you to piece it together.
In the first chapter, you learn that the main character’s name is Ida. She is a small figure, made entirely out of simple shapes. She has on a white dress and a white princess hat. As you guide Ida through the levels, you eventually run into strange looking, glowing creatures which provide you with some of the story. They call her “silent princess” and later “thieving princess.” They ask her why she is here. They tell Ida that this valley used to be full of life and now it is empty. Ida has taken something from them and she is back to return it.
The game includes a bright yellow totem that helps Ida in her journey. The totem has a big eye that watches Ida as she moves through the levels. You can stand on its head and move around to help Ida reach tall places.
The totem seems to become Ida’s only friend. It helps her along her journey. Though this character does not speak and there is never an actual display of affection between Ida and the totem, I found that I grew attached to. I realized that I was attached to this character when at one point, Ida sails away and he tries to follow, but is unable to swim.
This part left me feeling sad. Ida had lost her only friend.
The story follows Ida as she returns the shapes to the monuments, thus bringing life back to the place that the spirit tells her was once a place for the humans to live. It seems that she is on a quest for forgiveness. She stole something, and now she is trying to make amends.
However, the second to last chapter title makes an interesting point:
No one is left to forgive. In this level, Ida is taken into a place filled with coffins. In the end, she walks one particular coffin and places a flower that she picked up earlier in front of it.This is how this chapter ends. She gets her forgiveness, though there is no one left to forgive.
The game ends in a very strange way. As you guide Ida in the ninth chapter, you walk in front of a mirror. In the mirror, you do not see a reflection of the human princess. Instead there is a white bird with a crown. At the very end of the tenth chapter, Ida returns the last shape and becomes surrounded by what have been referred to as the “bothersome crow people.” A crown descends and Ida is transformed into the white bird from the pervious chapter. And as she flies up, the crows change into brightly colored birds and fly up with her and the game is over.