Monument Valley Review: Escher’s Paradise

Monument Valley, a game for iOS and Android by developer usTwo Games, is by far the most gorgeous, elegantly designed mobile game I have ever played. Granted, the only mobile games I really ever play are Clash of Clans, Boom Beach, and Pixel People, but even so, I’m especially picky about the mobile games I play, and this one makes the cut and then some. Hardcore gamers often make fun of anyone who plays mobile games, calling them “casuals” and the games themselves not “real” games. This game alone should silence those people, while at the same time be another example of how games are art.

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Pixel People Review

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Ever since the advent of social and casual games, I’ve been staunchly against them. I consider myself a hardcore gamer through and through, and told myself I would never play an iPhone game. Well, slowly I’ve warmed up to the idea of gaming in short bursts—in the bathroom, in the car, or if you just don’t have time to sit down for a long gaming sesh. It started with Temple Run, then Draw Something, then Flow, and now, Pixel People. I saw that it got a 9 on IGN, so basically I was obligated to check it out. Not to mention it’s free.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that this game ate (eats) up a lot of my time. A lot.

Here’s the premise: you are the mayor of the city of Utopia. Utopia exists in a vacuum—literally in space—and as mayor you are able to design it how you see fit. It shows you the city in an isometric grid, and you are given a certain amount of land to use for building whatever you want: roads, waterways, banks, universities, stadiums, whatever. Once you run out of land, you must pay a certain amount of coins (the in-game currency) to “level up” and get more land.

A city needs people, so to add people, you create clones. In an odd but straightforward method, you splice together different jobs to get new jobs. Each clone makes a certain amount of coins per second, and works in a certain type of building. The main “goal” is to get all the (currently 155) jobs. Pixel People doesn’t let you just sit on your ass and let the money roll in, however. A building will only make money for a certain amount of time before it needs to “recharge,” which you do by tapping it. However, the game accommodates your play style. Want to just sit down for a while and play? There’s plenty to do. Or, do something else for a while and the game continues on without you.

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Everything takes a certain amount of time, which you can speed up by spending “Utopium.” Utopium is rare, and you get it either from trees you’ve planted, or from gathering love from your people. Alternatively, you could pay real money to get more in-game coins or utopium, but if you don’t want to spend any, you can play just fine. I never spent any money and I’ve kept myself entertained the entire time I’ve played.

Pixel People may seem simple and straightforward, and for the most part, it is. However, it does have depth, more so than most other casual games (at least, the ones I’ve played). It will keep you busy, so if you’re already busy then maybe playing it isn’t the best idea (I probably should have been studying instead…probably should be studying right now actually). But if you’re looking to kill some time, Pixel People is an addicting and worthwhile way to do it.

8/10