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Call Us Crazy, But You Should Spend $4 On This Gorgeous Princess Video Game

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Every now and then, we have to treat ourselves -- to a pedicure, a nice dinner out, an afternoon off. Sure, we don't need it, but that little indulgence can be invigorating, reaffirming.

Make "Monument Valley" today's indulgence.

The much anticipated mobile game hit the App Store to glowing critical acclaim, offering a beautiful, surreal gaming experience that anyone can finish for $3.99. (Android users, don't worry, according to the developer's website, the game should be available on Google Play soon.)

"Monument Valley" is worth every cent. It's short -- each of the 10 levels won't take more than a half an hour unless you get really stuck (which I did once) -- but the puzzle game reminds us that mobile gaming doesn't have to be "Flappy Bird" or "2048," quick hits of frustration that end in a thrown phone or curse word. Mobile games can be art. Like their big brothers and sisters, console and PC gaming, they can be something worth setting aside a little bit of time to play. And they can also be easy enough that you don't have to be superhuman to finish.

All in all, if you're looking for a new mobile game, you can't do better than "Monument Valley." Here's my review:

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In "Monument Valley," the player controls Ida, a white-capped princess who must navigate through stunning worlds straight out of an M.C. Escher drawing, where rotating levers, sliding walkways and twisting towers create hidden walkways in the game's ever-changing setting.

While there is a little bit of a story -- it seems Princess Ida has stolen several of the kingdom's sacred geometric shapes and is now shamefully returning them long after the kingdom has gone to ruin -- it exists mainly to fuel the emotion behind "Monument Valley." Ida's quiet footsteps are one of the only sounds of the game, giving the whole experience the feeling of wandering through a place no one has been to for many years. You feel a sense of wonder each time the world shifts to a new shape, and each accomplishment is met with the pleasant relief of discovery.

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This is not like anything else I've played on the App Store. Where other mobile game hits are fast and infuriating, filled with catchy songs and gimmicky in-app purchases, "Monument Valley" stuns with its serenity. This is not a game designed to go viral; it's designed to be beautiful. Each screen is a work of art; I was at times mesmerized by its lovely geometric design. As I progressed through levels, I found myself anticipating the next twist and turn in the same way a child opens a birthday present, impatiently peeling back layers .

Perhaps most refreshing of all, "Monument Valley" had an ending. I didn't just play until I got sick of it (although, honestly, that would have been a while); the game built in difficulty and story for 10 levels until it gracefully ended, leaving me extremely satisfied but hoping for a sequel.

For those out there who insist that they never pay for apps, I urge you to reconsider. "Monument Valley" is an achievement that, I hope, legitimizes mobile gaming for both players and developers.

Break the bank, and spend the $3.99. You can thank me later.

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