As a fan of the original, the biggest story to come out of Apple’s packed WWDC conference was the stealth announcement of Monument Valley II.
The captivatingly simple art style, the mind-bending perspective puzzles, the emotional immersion communicated through the small touches of story & a cute combination of visual and audio cues - all led to an experience that stood head & shoulders above every other smartphone game in the app store.
But now, one of the most celebrated mobile games moves forward onto its next iteration. The questions are obvious - what’s changed? Does it fall victim to sequel-based fatigue? And, most importantly, is it good?
While I will dive into the first two questions in more detail, I will quickly answer the third with a resounding “yes.”
Not much has changed in the M.C. Escher-inspired isometric insanity. The impossible geometric designs continue to fascinate and grow in grandeur as you play through, and while the controls are uncomplicated, the puzzles themselves are magnificently clever - urging you to believe something is impossible for just the right amount of time before you feel the euphoria of realisation.
One critique of following this same approach would be the roof on puzzle difficulty for more experienced players. Once you “get it,” there really isn’t that much variation or increasing complication - which is not a complaint as to the overall experience, but the replay value takes a hit.
Which leads on nicely to the fortunate confirmation that Monument Valley 2 does not fall victim to sequel-based fatigue. That is because of the raw emotional energy communicated through a touching story about a mother letting her daughter go into the big wide world.
The heartwarming moments of watching these characters re-connect and hug after a while apart, the moments of quiet contemplation as relatable text appears on screen to drive the story - all of it adds to a wonderfully nuanced and gripping story, the level of which is perplexing given the fact they don’t play on facial animations or dialogue to deliver immersion.
At the end, you feel every punch of the plot, as you quickly sync with the emotional delivery of the morale to this story - the need to accept the reality of any situation you are placed in. A rather curious morale, given the fantastical setting it’s based within.
And then it finishes, with a similar understated conclusion to the previous iteration. Much like the original, this is a heartbreakingly short game that you wish could continue to a full crescendo. But, alas, we don’t get that.
What we do get in Monument Valley 2 is a glimpse of the same greatness that captured gamers’ attention before. Quite frankly, this surpasses the original (while not being that different) by delivering the same visually stunning scenarios, captivating gameplay and keeping you gripped with a subtly told story.
As far as mobile phone games go, this is most certainly the best - and the greatest office procrastination tool one could ask for. Here's to more in the future. 9/10
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.