More than five years have passed since I reviewed the first Monument Valley, and it’s amazing how many games I’ve discovered since then that have reminded me of its graceful minimalism and sheer intuitiveness. Clearly the game was always bound to be a trendsetter, but even the most competitive mobile app would struggle to match the sales and success that this sequel, Monument Valley 2, has achieved in its relatively brief time on the market.
Ustwo Games is a bigger team and a bigger force in mobile gaming than it used to be. That growth is evident in a sequel that captures the same special vibe that helped make the first Monument Valley such a huge hit.
Research the series to any length and you’ll discover a passionate and creative fandom that has fallen in love with its simple characters and flat-shaded art style. Such is the power of Ustwo’s storytelling, I suppose.
This new tale concerns another heroine who takes her young daughter on a journey through another land of strange geometry and mind-bending puzzles. The plot is still presented in a lightweight fashion, with a touch more emphasis placed on the characters and their carefully animated interactions with each other.
The mere thought of a child sidekick might sound like a gimmick at first — and disappointingly, it could easily have been much more of one — and yet at the same time, Monument Valley 2 is more relatable and easier to follow because of this.
Players begin the game in a familiar manner; pressing switches to open doors; rotating architecture to uncover secrets and hidden pathways; engaging in an oddly cathartic scribbling exercise when confronted with the level goal; that sort of thing. But eventually our heroine must step aside and let her daughter solve her own puzzles and go on her own adventures.
This family dynamic forms the backbone of the game’s story and it is a much easier premise to digest when compared to the winsome interludes of the previous game. Eventually the daughter must work to achieve her own goals as players are once again invited to take snapshots of the rather lovely visuals that they’ll be treated to over the course of the game.
Monument Valley 2 remains heavy on metaphor (puzzles involving flowers are common as the daughter moves into a commanding role), and those who found themselves affected by the themes of friendship in the first game will find a lot they will enjoy seeing here too.
On that note, it’s perhaps important to mention that playing the first Monument Valley isn’t necessary for trying this sequel. This is a new story with fresh characters and another gentle introduction of starter puzzles that make it very easy on players who are jumping in for the first time.
Monument Valley 2 is shorter and easier than its predecessor and it may end too abruptly for some. Much like the Forgotten Shores DLC from before, this is not a sequel that’s likely to win over many non-believers.
I liked the fleeting thrills that this sequel brought, but I did want to see more of the teamwork mechanic that was only briefly explored in one chapter. There was an opportunity to increase the difficulty a bit there, but maybe that risks missing of the point of what is intended to be a breezy and accessible experience.
Monument Valley 2 doesn’t alter the original game’s formula much, but its endearing tale and spellbinding sights and puzzles will surely be enough to justify a few hours of anyone’s leisure time.