It’s pretty much a worldwide consensus that Monument Valley from developer ustwo is one of the best mobile games of all-time. The original game carefully blended simple gameplay mechanics with puzzles that seemed inspired by M. C. Esher paintings, twisting and turning before your very eyes.
The original game launched in 2014 and an expansion, called Forgotten Shores, arrived later that year. A sequel has been promised for years, but was always a bit of a mystery. Until last night that is.
At Apple’s WWDC conference, Monument Valley 2 was a surprise reveal and launched immediately on the App Store exclusively for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch devices. And we’re pleased to say that it’s just as delightful and successful – if not more so – than the original.
A touching parental tale
Like the original, Monument Valley 2 sees you attempting to complete a series of levels all connected by an overarching story. But this time around it’s a much more poignant tale.
This tale is set within the same universe but with brand new characters. Ro and her daughter are about to embark on a journey across ever-changing landscapes that not only see them battling against the environment, but also discovering the peaks and troughs that are equally big parts of growing up and being a parent.
Ro isn’t just a parent to a child reaching adolescence though. She’s also one of the creators of this strange, colourful and complicated world and part of this journey she goes on is learning how to let go – both of her growing daughter and the responsibilities of this world.
Monument Valley 2 is a glorious journey that manages to tell a poignant tale without the use of dialogue. Like the original game, each chapter is titled with a short description of the events that will happen within, like Chapter III: The Oasis, “in which young eyes see new wonders”. But most of the story comes from the short interactions Ro and her daughter have with the other creators where you learn about the world and the swirling emotions.
What makes it even more powerful is that this is a game that is filled with moments where you’re encouraged to stop and take note of the story and those emotions. There is one point where Ro’s daughter is standing alone in a rainy greyscale level with a mournful piano playing, where the sense of loss really hit us in the feels.
Gameplay that builds and evolves
While Monument Valley 2 might start off feeling very familiar to those who played the original, it’s not long before you realise that this sequel is evolving in more ways than just the story. As before you’re manipulating levels to guide Ro and her daughter to press buttons, go through doors and even discover old friends. You’re always looking for ways to change the geology to open up new paths, sometimes controlling the fates of two characters with one finger tap.
And that’s just one of the new mechanics at play in Monument Valley 2. They’re all mostly subtle tweaks to the established three button movers and gizmos to move, but the elegance with which the whole package is put together is regularly breathtaking and always just that little bit moving.
Despite the evolution of the structures and the steps you’ll need to take to complete each chapter, it’s safe to say that difficulty level still isn’t as steep as you’d hope. But again, you’re not really coming to Monument Valley 2 for that kind of stimulation. It’s about the journey, the stunning pastel graphics and the atmosphere that ustwo creates with each level and the glorious orchestral soundtrack.
Unfortunately, it’s also a game that you can complete in a single sitting and, just as with the original Monument Valley, you’re just left wanting more as the credits start to roll. The entire game can be powered through in under two hours (even with a tiny break to make a tea).
Thankfully, the journey is so good that you’re left feeling so amazed and blessed for even experiencing it that you don’t feel shortchanged.
Is Monument Valley 2 good?
Priced at £4.99/$4.99, Monument Valley 2 isn’t exactly cheap, especially when you consider its brevity. But rarely is a game this beautiful, this absorbing and so deliciously interactive – especially on mobile.
This is a game that demands your attention and then rewards you tenfold for it. In short, Monument Valley 2 is nothing short of monumental.
Monument Valley 2 is available now exclusively on iOS for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.