I think after binge-watching three seasons of Netflix's House of Cards that we all have a pretty good idea of Frank Underwood's likes and dislikes. Dislikes: Not being president, nosy reporters, being powerless, and anyone who questions his power. Likes: Being president, his wife Claire, power, Freddy and his ribs, that rowing machine, and the video game Call of Duty. But in House of Cards Season 3's Episode 5, Frank (played to perfection by Kevin Spacey) traded his PS Vita and the shoot 'em up game for an iPad and a quiet little princess game called Monument Valley. And yes, it's totally real.
Frank goes onto explain that he usually does prefer his shoot 'em up games, but claims a glowing review by Tom Yates made him download it. This leads to Yates being hired to write the Underwood's legacy book about the America Works program, as well as Frank using Monument Valley in his talks of political strategy. Really. This little indie video game about a princess has got Frank totally addicted. Look, I've had my gaming addictions and still do (Flappy Bird, 2048, Kim Kardashian Hollywood, Plants Vs. Zombies, every incarnation of The Sims), so I know once your gaming strategy makes it into your daily conversation, you've got it baaad.
So I had to find out: What is this game that has infiltrated Frank Underwood's life with as much force as he forced his way into the Oval Office? Here's what I learned.
How to Play Monument Valley
This game wasn't made for House of Cards and was already a hit before Season 3 hit Netflix. This 2014 Apple iPad Game of the Year looks like a cross between the ubiquitous Minecraft and the M. C. Escher painting "Relativity" with gorgeous graphics and soothing music.
Monument Valley calls itself "an illusory adventure of impossible architecture and forgiveness." Players guide faceless Princess Ida through a world of optical illusions and mazes in a boxy world as she journeys for forgiveness. Because the path to forgiveness and rebuilding your life is never quite smooth, is it?
What Monument Valley Says About House of Cards Season 3
If there's anything we've all seen Frank Underwood do in the past three years, it's figure out how to master the impossible. After all, he schemed his way into the presidency with impressive skill. Now, Season 3 examines how and if the Underwoods can stay in the White House — and getting re-elected often seems like an impossible task, with everyone gunning for you.
It us up to both Ida and Frank to move the world to suit their needs; to twist and bend the path before them, reshaping the landscape to achieve their end. Along the way they will enlist the help of various allies - for Frank it's various Congressmen and Senators, for Ida, it's the semi-sentient blocks that allow her access to unreachable areas.
How to Get It
OK, so are you itching to play this game as much as I am? Because all this talk about impossible journeys and mazes has me really wanting to download this game, solve some puzzles, and defeat it. The game is available for download in the Apple App store and Google Play for $3.99.
And I can't wait to play it. Maybe I can beat Frank Underwood to the game's finish line. (Probably not.)
Image: Monument Valley (Screengrab)