Sunday, November 30, 2014

Monument Valley: Forgotten Shores, Ida's (RED) Dream Review


Monument Valley is a 3D puzzle game from UsTwoGames that takes you on a visual journey with geometry art based on the styling of M.C. Escher.  You travel fanatically designed monuments with the game’s lead character, a little girl by the name of Princess Ida.

Monument Valley ($3.99) was originally released for iOS devices on March 12.  The game was also subsequently released on Android devices and the Amazon Kindle.  With only 10 levels, the first edition of Monument Valley was visually impressive and challenged you to look at each beautifully rendered level on multiple levels to help Ida navigate her way around each monument.  I really enjoyed playing Monument Valley, but I felt just as I really got lost in the art, the characters and the story, the game was over.

This November, just eight months after releasing the original, UsTwo released two add-on packs; Forgotten Shores as a $1.99 in-app purchase (IAP) to the original game and Ida’s (RED) Dream, a $0.99 IAP. 


Totem is back to help the Princess in Forgotten Shores
Forgotten Shores, released on November 12, adds eight new delightful levels to Monument Valley in which you are reunited with Princess Ida and Totem.  The levels are still interactive 3D works of art.  The difficulty of the new levels is balanced and delivers a mentally stimulating puzzle that is not overwhelmingly difficult.  Oh, and you still must deal with the pesky Crow People.



Ida’s (RED) Dream, the second IAP released on November 23, is billed on the Monument Valley website as “One final chapter to fight AIDS.”  100% of the proceeds from this $0.99 IAP level goes to (RED) to help fight for an HIV/AIDS free world.  Ida’s (RED) Dream is available for a limited time (December 7, 2014), and I encourage you to buy it while you can.

Taken together, Forgotten Shores and Ida’s (RED) Dream offer players nine new levels to explore and enjoy.  As you play, you get drawn into Ida’s world and her mission to return the stolen geometry to the various monuments.  As with the first game, there was one point in Forgotten Shores where I actually drew in a sharp breath and was saddened by what happened.  Not many games on iOS today have that kind of connection between character and player.

My two favorite levels have to be Forgotten Shores Appendix i The Chasm and Ida’s (RED) Dream.  I like both of these levels for different reasons. In The Chasm, I empathize with the silent princess when all hope appears lost and she is given the opportunity to escape.  Without spoiling it for future players, there is a collective sigh of relief near the end of the first room of The Chasm.  In Ida’s (RED) Dream, I feel as if all of the elements that make a great game come together: the colors of each level, the details in the architecture, the difficulty of the levels and the reward of completing them, the sound effects and last, but definitely not the least, the soothing background music that sets the tone for the chapter.


Things can get twisted around...
...and turned upside down quickly!

I’m not usually in favor of IAPs because they have become synonymous with power-up, “coins” or other “resources” necessary to play and win levels in “freemium” games.  But these IAPs are different.  They add levels, which you own outright, and can play and enjoy over and over again.  They continue the story of the characters you get attached too. Forgotten Shore and Ida’s (RED) Dream clearly demonstrates the high production value craftsmanship that goes into a game that you will remember long after playing it.

Monument Valley is available now and requires an iPad 2 and iPhone 4 or later to play.  Versions are also available for Google Android and Amazon Kindle devices.


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