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Game essentials: Monument Valley 2

We take a closer look at the App Store’s must-play games.

Monument Valley 2

A story of beauty and illusion

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We all marvelled at the geometric genius of the original Monument Valley, a contemplative puzzle game inspired by MC Escher’s impossible structures. But by the end it was hard to see how developer ustwo could take the idea much further.

Well, with this sublime sequel it has, and then some.

Fittingly, it does so with a subtle shift in direction: like the first game, you’ll walk along a variety of gravity and physics-defying structures, moving pieces up, down and around to connect the unconnected.

There are more of them here, and they’re even more dynamic and complex - but these aren’t mere feats of dazzling design. Instead, they’ve used them to tell a touching coming-of-age tale, as a mother watches her daughter grow up.

You play as Ro and her child – Ro moves slightly faster than Ida from Monument Valley, which will make sense to anyone who’s ever been asked to keep up with a curious youngster.

Reach the top of each structure and you get to write patterns in the sky.

You can see this is going to be a very different game from an early stage when a sudden landslide briefly separates the two – once you bring them back together, the girl rushes towards her mother, who wraps her in a comforting hug.

But soon she grows more confident and independent. At first, you’ll travel together: you’ll be in the same room if not always on the same platform. The child needs guidance, and so Ro leads by example – move her and the kid will scamper in the same direction. Then, as you progress, they’ll go their separate ways.

Without giving too much away, the level designers have surpassed themselves: you’ll still be wowed by how these contraptions eventually come together, but each new environment also captures a different mood, reflecting the characters’ personal journeys.

There are almost too many highlights to count: from trees whose leaves are arranged in cuboid clusters that grow and shrink in the light and shade, to a gorgeous sequence where Ro explores her own childhood, each memory nested within the previous one.

In amongst all the lovely art and puzzles there’s a tender tale being told too.

Yet for all their intricacy, the levels are never too difficult to solve if you play around with the various switches, wheels and levers for long enough. Which means you can soak up the mysterious atmosphere and appreciate the story all the more.

It’s affecting in an understated way. When the colour drains from Ro’s world almost completely, you’ll instinctively understand how she’s feeling. Yet Monument Valley 2 never wallows in sadness - it’s a constantly surprising journey that will leave you both awestruck and uplifted.

    Monument Valley 2

    A story of beauty and illusion

    VIEW