Monument Valley is a simple mobile puzzle game with amazing construction and beautiful scenery. The goal of the game is quite simple: manipulate the level allowing your character to reach the end. While in this context it makes it sound like a basic maze I assure you the architecture and design make the tale worth it.
Isometric Grid & Perspective
Because the viewpoint in this game has a single point of origin that never moves there are some interesting puzzles involving the manipulation of perspective. While a walkway or bridge may seem to lead to a dead end at first sight a quick rotation of the map now shows the path leading to a new location after all. This makes many of the puzzles that either seem impossible or straight forward much more complicated than at first glance.
Knowing that everything had to line up precisely at different angles the developers chose to force the game to stick to a 30 degree isometric grid. This means that every angle you see is either at 30 degrees, 120 degrees, or perfectly vertical. You can download the same grid here as a Photoshop pattern if you’re wanting to use it for your own projects. One can also purchase a Rhodia Isometric Graph Paper notepad if you’re really into and feel lonely without it. I actually use the same source for my Dotpad’s and they’re actually pretty decent quality.
Low Poly & Minimalism
Most of the game looks like what you see in the screenshots below but there are definitely some low-poly influences throughout the game. Something the screenshots don’t capture, however, is the beauty in which these low-poly styles are able to provide. Because the low-poly style is mostly limited to moving entities, one really can’t appreciate the style it’s able to provide unless you see it in motion. The trailer below only has water for a very brief moment (29 second mark) so it’s not a great example, unfortunately, but it does show you some of the game mechanics and general movement. This will also better explain some of gameplay mechanics regarding perspective that’s difficult to explain without showing.
You can also watch this behind the scenes video where they discuss some of the artwork and development involved in Monument Valley.
While the game doesn’t have a heavy influence of typography it did give some basic clues regarding the story line here and there. The ghost-like character portrayed to the right, for example, would give you abstract clues as to where you came from and what you were doing. In all honesty what she said I didn’t find terribly important but the font sure did catch my eye!
The font used is Museo, an OpenType slab-serif with a family of 5 different weights, 300-700 free to download. I also believe this is the first time I’ve seen it used outside of web where it’s usually found as a display font. Unfortunately, not much more is really known about the font despite consistently being featured amongst font-loving websites and communities.
The Monument Valley logo, however, seems to be either a custom font or based on another. It has very similar characteristics to both Anisette Std Petite Light as well as Kessel 105 Book and suspect it to have used one of those as it’s base. If anybody has a better answer feel free to post it in the comments below or send me an email.
Below I’ve extracted certain swatches from each screenshot showing the color palette used for each one. After I grabbed all the colors I ran an auto-blend of the color picker from each shot as show to the right. This shows an approximation of the general saturation used throughout the game. Interstingly, as you can see, most of the bottom right quadrant of the color picker isn’t even used meaning the designers stayed away from using heavily saturated and dark hues but had no problem working with less saturated hues of any brightness. They also had a nice balance of both warm and color colors and don’t see any significant weight on either side.
Monument Valley is a lovely short game who’s design is inspiring to many. I wish I could learn more about their process and workflow of both the structure and creation of this game. Even some of the simplest puzzles are so well thought out I can’t help but wonder how one can design it on paper.
And while the gameplay is short and the puzzles aren’t terribly difficult, playing this game means walking through a piece of art.