When you think about puzzle games, usually what comes to mind is Tetris. While that game is a classic unto itself, I found another puzzle game that I think fits in the classics category for introducing a new kind of Tetris: a game known as Monument Valley made by UsTwo.
While the game came out over two years ago, it remains to be a game in one of the top spots on the App Store, and for good reason. Due to its good reviews and enticing gameplay pictures, I decided to give it a shot and I was blown away. The character design is beautiful, yet simplistic. The setting is a constant optical illusion that messes with your mind, giving you a new variety of ways to solve problems. But what was really interesting to me was not the main character Ida, but a cute little sidekick known only as the Totem. Who is he? Where did he come from? He certainly doesn’t act like other totems who just stand there with their colorless complexions, so what makes him so different from the others?
First, let’s look at what a totem is. According to Native American mythology, a totem is a spiritual being or a sacred object. The most commonly known type of totem is the spirit animal. But since our friend the Totem is definitely not an animal but instead a pillar, how is he a Totem? Well, if you look at how totems are displayed, they are tall pillars much like the Totem friend. While they do have animalistic (and sometimes humanistic) qualities to them, they’re still tall pillars.
But what if we took this a step further? What if we introduced the Crow People into the mixture? In Native American mythology, crows are symbolic of magic, shape shifting, creativity, and a higher perspective. All of which we see throughout the game multiple times.
Then there’s Ida, the main character herself, who is human throughout 99.9% of the game. She’s the one who goes through this adventure of redemption trying to put back sacred geometry in order to save her people, being the princess and all that.
Wait a minute. What if they all fit together? Native American totems are tall pillars with animalistic and humanistic qualities to them. Well, we have the Totem pillar, the animals, and the human…what if they all come together to make their own totem? Like the ones we see in Native American tribes? Now I know what you all are thinking: if that was the case, why didn’t they actually become a totem at the end of the game? Why was the Totem absent?
Because in the original game, your character Ida is forced to leave the Totem behind. Therefore, in doing so, she saves her people and unites human with animal. But, the totem is still missing. The unity and order of the pillar is necessary to have a totem at all, which is where the next set of levels, Forgotten Shores, comes in. I won’t spoil that one for you, but you can bet after playing through those levels as well, it was pretty hard not to notice how important the Totem becomes, and not just because he’s a good friend.
While there isn’t technically any proof that holds water for this theory, I like to think that the overall story behind Monument Valley doesn’t leave any stone unturned. Without the Totem, it would have been impossible for Ida to get as far as she did, regardless of possible Native American mythology thrown into the mix. It’s an idea that I have that makes the story more interesting, but regardless, I’d recommend this video game to anybody who enjoys a good puzzle.
So, what do you think? Does the beautiful symbolism of the game include the Totem?
Also, is there a video game you’d like to recommend? Let me know in the comments section or on the Contact page. I’d love to hear from you!
(Featured Image: pinterest.com)