How Monument Valley's gorgeous, Escher-like world was designed

Monument Valley uses breathtaking Escher-esque worlds and haunting music to make one of the most unique, most captivating iPhone and iPad games we've seen in a long time. So how did it come about? Lead designer Ken Wong of ustwo spoke with Cult of Mac:

"A lot of games make too much sense," Wong says. "Their makers try and emulate movies, for example — wanting to look like Star Wars or The Godfather. Games can be so much more. The titles that excite us the most here at ustwo are the ones where you get to do really strange things. It doesn't have to make sense. That's where Monument Valley came from conceptually."

Wong shared many of his sketches and his thought process for the game as well. If you like the game — and you should! — check it out.

How Monument Valley's gorgeous, Escher-like world was designed

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

More Posts



← Previously

In honor of Heartbleed, Agile Bits is offering a 50% discount on 1Password

Next up →

Don Melton shares memories of Steve Jobs

Reader comments

How Monument Valley's gorgeous, Escher-like world was designed


This is a fun, beautiful, if incredibly short game (it takes an hour to finish), BUT, it is also a clone of a PS3 game called ECHOCHROME. The gameplay is very similar to Echochrome, but the visuals are more inspired by another PS3 game, one called Journey.

There's certainly talent at work in this game, but ultimately it suffers from the same problem many iOS titles do - that it's a derivative work.

Everything is derivative if you look at it this (Debbie Downer!) way. "Derivative" is not a synonym for "copy" nor is it a bad thing.

It would be fairer to say that Monument Valley uses the same metaphor as Echochrome (other than that they aren't very similar at all), and that the artwork is evocative of Journey, or that the artists share a similar style.

Overall, Echochrome and Monument Valley are not really that similar at all. Monument Valley is beautiful for instance where Echochrome looks like an escape from a 1970's "CRT with lightpen" kind of environment. Both are derivative of Escher (in the sense of derivative that you are using), and both are derivative of hundreds and thousands of artist that may have used a similar drawing style before them.

This kind of thinking really adds nothing, proves nothing and ultimately means nothing. It's the particular synthesis of all the elements together that makes the game.