Weekly Gaming: Monument Valley 2 (iOS)

It’s been almost 3 years to the day since I reviewed Monument Valley; the fantastically gorgeous mobile indie game that absolutely blew me away, and made me look at mobile games in a whole new light. A year after that, I took on the game’s DLC, and found it evoking the same kind of feelings as the original, albeit at a much reduced price. This year I finally got my hands on the game’s secret sequel: Monument Valley 2.

To be honest, the announcement of the sequel was something of a surprise. There I was just watching Apple’s WWDC keynote, and suddenly, the app store section was showing Monument Valley 2. Rushing to the app store, I found it by searching, and immediately gave Apple (and the developers at ustwo games) four whole pounds and 99 pennies for the pleasure of owning this great game.

So first up, what is Monument Valley 2?

Put simply, it’s another story set in the Monument Valley universe, whereby you play as multiple characters that wish to put the world back together again using the weird special powers they have in their hats. In this sequel, you play as a mother and daughter as the mother goes about doing her job with her daughter in tow, only for the daughter to have to go off on her own and do this job herself. It’s a simple premise, with lots and lots of animated hugs at the end of each stage, but does a good job of adding some emotion to a series that only made you have feelings for inanimate totem polls.

The game comprises of the same puzzles you know and love from the original, with gorgeous aesthetics taking centre stage once again. The developers at ustwo games have taken things one step further in Monument Valley 2, with the landscapes being animated in new ways, as well as there being many FMV’s for you to watch in certain aspects of the game. These new environments, ideas and even cutscenes helps to make Monument Valley 2 one of the most visually appealing games on iOS today, so much so I’d go so far to say it’s probably more stunning then the vast majority of triple-A games too.

The one thing I did want to mention is the strangeness the game evokes from normal human emotions. Take for example the two main characters: despite being fairly abstract, we can tell that they’re a mother and daughter purely from the mannerisms their animations evoke, as well as the size difference between the two. I suppose it helps that the game animates the two of them hugging a lot, but even without the hugs the abstract art doesn’t stop you from making these associations. I don’t know where I’m going with this point, I just really wanted to point it out that it was a groovy little thing ustwo games managed to pull off.

Annoyingly, Monument Valley 2 was can easily be completed within an hour and a half. I say “annoyingly”, not because it’s bad value for money, but because of how much I wanted to continue playing the game. Maybe it’s because of how cynical I’m becoming in my old age, but I can’t help but feel this is so that they can sell us dlc at a later point…

There is one thing that has changed for the worst; the games difficulty. It seems like ustwo games decided that the actual puzzle that made players feel like a genius for solving things in the previous instalment got in the way of them showing us more gorgeous landscapes. As such, I didn’t have a single issue with Monument Valley 2’s difficulty throughout the entire campaign. Whilst this may be good for making the game more mainstream, I couldn’t help but feel let down – I loved that some levels in the previous game made me feel like an idiot until I finally had the “Aha!” moment that solved the issue in front of me. Just simply walking through a world is all fine and good, but there needs to be substance to keep players coming back.

Overall, Monument Valley 2 was a fantastic surprise. It’s more of the same, which can only be a good thing considering it’s one of the most visually stunning games on the market, and helps cement ustwo’s reputation as a fantastic little studio with plenty to give to the world in both art, and design.

4/5

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