Relax with Monument Valley


This month’s theme is about help-seeking for anxiety and depression. In the previous blog, Marlou talked about ways to help yourself feel better. One of the suggestions included was to do something fun, such as playing video games. There are quite some people that play video games to feel better and to lower their anxiety and depressive feelings. See for example the discussions on Reddit under the resources below. In this blog, I would like to tell you more about Monument Valley. This game is not only one of GEMH’s favourite games, but also a game that a lot of participants in one of our studies enjoyed very much because it is so relaxing and calming.

Monument Valley is a 3D puzzle game developed by Ustwo Games and inspired by the optical illusions of M.C. Escher. The aim of the game is to guide princess Ida through mazes of impossible objects and optical illusions, by means of rotating and manipulating the architecture and geometry of the world (

Personally, Monument Valley is one of my favourite games, because the puzzles challenge me to change perspective and at the same time I find the music very relaxing. Even when I don’t play the game, I sometimes just listen to the soundtrack (see resources below for the soundtracks). But it seems that I am not the only one that likes this game so much..

Recently, Marlou and I conducted an experiment in which we invited students experiencing anxiety, depressive, and/or stress symptoms into the lab to play a video game. In the lab they played Monument Valley and afterwards we asked them what they thought of the game. A lot of students were very positive about Monument Valley! Here are some quotes:

What did you like most about the game?

“The uncomplicated way to distract me
from my all-day-problems”

“The style and atmosphere,
it felt magical and relaxing”

“You can’t do anything wrong in the game,
which is stress-reducing when I feel down”

“It almost felt like a meditation”

“It is a good game to disconnect
and think calmly”

“Very interesting game,
I didn’t even realise how much
time passed while I was playing”

“It made me proud and
it was satisfying to solve the puzzles”


We would love to hear from you what you think of Monument Valley and which other games you play to feel better!



Aniek Wols
Researcher at GEMH Lab

I am interested in how and why applied games for mental health work, with a specific focus on the influence of one's mindset, motivation and expectations.


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