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This evening I went exploring in impossible places
I knew that Monument Valley was going to be special as soon as I saw the introduction screen. It had a perfection combination of art and sound that let you know that the people behind it were absolutely passionate about what they were making.

It feels rather like Journey to me. It's not the same masterpiece that Journey is, and that's largely because it's a little more "gamey" than Journey. Journey has things for the player to do, but they're more about exploration than actual puzzle solving - the difficulty level is right down at "never held a controller before". Monument Valley requires a little more from its players - although I only got stuck once, and that was because I hadn't spotted something really obvious.

But the atmosphere, the combination of the sparse information, the neat combinations of architecture and movement, and the sense of wonder are all there in spades. Nominally you're solving three-dimensional puzzles by rotating things, pulling things, and moving around the new surfaces you've brought into being. In actuality you're moving through the design the creators have laid out for you, eager to see what the next delight will be.

It's not a cheap game - it's £2.49 on Android, and it took me about two hours to work my way through, with occcasional short breaks. But if you're anything like me then you'll gladly pay that, and consider it cheap for this much wonder.

(Available on Android and iPhone, in case you were wondering.)

Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there.

That's a funny coincidence -- I also bought and finished Monument Valley yesterday. It is indeed a beautiful game.

I can't actually remember where I saw it yesterday that triggered me buying it - but wherever it was must have made an impression!

Oh! I hope I helped contribute to an impression! Monument Valley is such a gorgeous game!

Thank you - yes it was you!

Much appreciated!

"It's not a cheap game - it's £2.49 on Android"


2014-06-08 09:49 am (UTC)

Something strange has happened in gaming, for that to be a true statement... But the developer can apparently make enough money at that price point.

And how often do I pay more than £6 or so for a (Kindle) book? Self-publishing friends are also happy with a price point between £2 and £3 pounds.

So why do I still pay £10 or so for an (iTunes) album?

Ah, the race to the bottom, where if a mobile game costs more than 69p/99c it's 'not cheap'. Never mind that in the long run, it's probably more expensive (or less fun to play) because of in-app purchases.

I use the cup of coffee test myself. Well, not so much a test. More a reminder to myself that when the same money gets you a coffee at Starbucks, the game isn't actually that expensive after all. Then I stop dithering and buy the game.

Which reminds me. When I first heard of Monument Valley it was iPhone only with Android 'coming soon'. It wasn't soon enough for me to not forget about it. Now I've been reminded, *goes to buy*

My thought was more along the lines of "why am I still paying record company rates for music, when I generally don't pay publishing house rates for games or books these days. A friend sat me down and explained just how much more profitable a £2.99 self-published e-book sale was for him than a £17.99 hardback sale, and it was obvious how self publishing is a great way for established (for a given value of established) authors to make money.

i'm assuming that games designers are going for a similar volume/price trade off.

But even when I buy kick-starter (or equivalent) music, it still keeps to that old price point (except for the occasional Band Camp offer). I wonder if that will change?

Personally, I pay £120/year for all the music I can eat. Seems to work out well for me.

Is that a streaming service? And is really *all* the music? I liked the model, but a lot of the stuff I buy is pretty obscure (yes Martin Stephenson, I'm looking at you) and doesn't tend to show up in most catalogues.

Spotify. And no, it has huge amounts, but there's lots missing. But frankly there's more music on there than I can listen to in a lifetime, so I'm happy.

Ah - that doesn't work so well for me. I'm guilty of discovering artists, and then wanting to hear all of their stuff.

Possibly worth taking a look at. You can play with it for free - although you can't do direct choices in that case, and you have to live with adverts, at least you'd get to see what the selection is like.

(It's also handy for discovering artists.)

I had an account, several hundred years ago - I wonder if it's still valid?

Re: "It's not a cheap game - it's £2.49 on Android"


2014-06-08 02:14 pm (UTC)

Many people seem to balk above the 99c/69p mark. Which is ridiculous, but sadly true.

Re: "It's not a cheap game - it's £2.49 on Android"


2014-06-08 03:54 pm (UTC)

Or the "free" point, from my point of view as a (very) casual gamer.

Re: "It's not a cheap game - it's £2.49 on Android"


2014-06-09 10:03 am (UTC)

I think, for me, if it costs 99p I'm willing to say "ok, it's a cool concept I'll buy it on spec and try it for ten minutes and it'll be sufficiently interesting to be worth it even if I don't really like it".

But there seem to be several games which cost >£5 where there's no demo and the homepage just links to the android store and doesn't explain what the gameplay actually is, just says "really innovative, buy it", and I resent gambling £5 into the dark, even if I can theoretically afford it.

Probably my favourite would be to have a shortish demo version for free or for 99p, and then "buy full version", for £5, or even for £20 or more, if I actually have faith I want to play all the way through.

But I'm not sure that model would work for everyone. I guess games have to specialise between "a little bit interesting to everyone" or "interesting enough to some people they spend more-than-impulse-purchase-money" on it.

Re: "It's not a cheap game - it's £2.49 on Android"


2014-06-09 12:17 pm (UTC)

Yeah. 69p is an impulse buy. £2.49 made me think for 10 ten seconds.

But knowing that 69p will probably be followed by ads or upselling puts me off too, nowadays.

The demo or advertising supported version, that allows me to pay to get rid of ads, is one that I like.

I bought it on the strength of this review, having been avoiding it because I knew there was a risk I wouldn't like it, because in general all game art and sound do for me is improve a core mechanic, and if the core mechanic is tripe then it doesn't matter how pretty it is.

The core mechanic of this is indeed clever, but comes from a PS3 game called Echochrome. The gameplay is (a) on shiny rails, (b) stupidly easy, and (c) insanely short.

They've worked in a very clever way with Escher -- the Escher estate is astoundingly litigious but I don't think there's anything for them here. There are references to other paintings as well as the obvious ones (Waterfall, Ascending and Descending, Belvedere and Relativity), and it's all very charming.

The designers made a deliberate choice. The thing that I call 'gameplay' -- where, having introduced a core mechanic in a puzzle game, you design successively harder ways of using it -- they call 'padding'. But I think it's clear that games of that kind can be intensely satisfying as games and also successful as art, and I'd cite Portal as an example.

So. Monument Valley is the Merchant Ivory of video games.

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