BEHIND THE SCENES
The lost worlds of Monument Valley 2
We reveal the stages and characters that didn’t make the cut.
Monument Valley 2
A story of beauty and illusion
In February 2016, Ustwo Games decided it wanted to make a Monument Valley sequel, with a singular goal: to take this beautifully realised world and make it even more personal and meaningful.
Ten months of concept work threw up more than 100 different character designs and ideas. In fact, Monument Valley 2 was first conceived as a series of wildly different chapters, each with their own setting and story.
Paint it black
One chapter about a young boy finding his identity produced some of the most striking concept work. “We were really interested in the idea of a monochromatic Monument Valley world,” says Monument Valley 2 producer Adrienne Law.
“The Towers level in the final game was influenced by these initial explorations of how brutalist colour schemes and architecture could be represented within the Monument Valley aesthetic.”
Sketching it out
The team also explored the story of a pair of lovers separated by impossible geometry, and the tale of an intrepid explorer with a love of nature. The cast of potential characters grew and grew and grew – but one story concept stood out above all others.
A game with character(s)
“The mother and child emerged when we started to combine some of these concept characters,” says Law. “As soon as we saw them, we knew we had something emotive, and something we hadn’t seen represented in games all that often.”
This meant that the multitude of potential stages and characters had to be cut, or dramatically reworked.
“I think we were sad that we wouldn't get to pursue our vision of having multiple narratives within the game, but choosing to focus on the mother and child was a unanimous decision,” says Law.
“Aspects of each of those characters did make it into the final game, but who knows whether we’ll ever return to them in a more concrete form.”
A singular focus
The game crystallised quickly from there. To help add weight to the mother and child story, the team sought insight from their own parents. Law says the whole experience made her think more deeply about her relationship with her mother and grandmother.
“When I look at this game I don’t just see an ode to motherhood, I see the growth of my own appreciation for the women and parents in my family,” she adds. “It’s probably the most valuable thing I've taken personally from working on Monument Valley 2. Hopefully when players experience the game, they’re also able to reflect on their relationships with the people they care about.”
So did Ustwo Games achieve its goal of making this world more meaningful and personal? Absolutely. Monument Valley 2 is adored by millions, and not just for its ingenious architectural puzzles; it is a story with real heart, too.