15. Monument Valley
Release date: April 3, 2014
I don’t know about you, but I would never have looked at any M.C. Escher artwork and guess that it would be fun to play a video game inside of it. Frustrating, sure, and possibly confusing. But fun? Probably not.
Monument Valley isn’t explicitly based on Escher’s work, but I think we can all agree that’s what comes to mind immediately upon seeing one of the game’s levels. And surprise: it’s not only fun, but incredibly captivating as well.
As with many top iOS games, Monument Valley succeeds by not overthinking its core concepts. You’ve got to help the princess Ida escape some pretty interesting mazes — 10 in all. Along the way, she finds her path blocked by people with crow heads and the nature of the mazes themselves, which are heavy on optical illusion and trickery.
Though it’s fair to say that the majority of both critics and players fell in love with the result, there were some gripes that the game was too short and/or not difficult enough. But the developers never intended to create a game that would stump people, and an easy argument could be made that Monument Valley still gives you more bang for your buck, especially from an atmosphere standpoint, than 99 percent of iOS games. I’ll take that any day of the week.
Next: XCOM: Enemy Unknown