If you have a dog in the never-ending "Are games art?" debate, you know that there are good arguments to be made on both sides. I firmly believe that games can be art, and to anyone who disagrees, I would eagerly point you in the direction of Monument Valley, a new puzzler from developer Ustwo.
In Monument Valley you are tasked with guiding a faceless princess named Ida through various structures. But these buildings are not like anything you'd encounter in the real world; They're all impossible, relying on 2D visual trickery and MC Escher-like illusions to add a confusing but enjoyable layer of complexity to even the most trivial tasks.
Finding your way to the end of each level often means manually spinning platforms to connect paths in a way that defies logic, but in the end makes perfect sense. This mechanic is made even more challenging once path-blocking "Crow People" are added a few levels into the adventure, adding an aspect of timing to each puzzle solution.
There's no real timer to speak of, and the game actively encourages you to think out each move rather than rushing blindly along any paths that might be available. And while some levels might seem hideously daunting at first become manageable through a little bit of trial and error.
Monument Valley is gorgeous in is design, with colorful shades and hard lines that emphasize the geometry while at the same time giving you the impression that you're interacting with a priceless painting. There's even a camera feature built-in so you can take snapshots of any level you choose, and every one of them would make for a gorgeous wallpaper on your iPad or iPhone.
To top it all off, the relaxing music reacts to every move you make, and even the troublesome crows, that squawk in your face while blocking the way, come off as more charming than annoying.
Monument Valley is a game that will suck you in with its gorgeous aesthetics, and then bend your brain while you search for each puzzle solution, but you'll have a smile on your face the entire time. If you're even remotely interested in puzzle games, this US$3.99 gem is money well spent.