Monument Valley 2 Review – Like Mother, Like Daughter

Monument Valley 2, the sequel to 2014’s highly acclaimed Monument Valley, came out on Android a few days ago (though it was out for iPhone months ago—even when I’m early, I’m late!), and I immediately picked it up since I had loved the original so much. Plus, it was only $5, and I’m much happier paying a few bucks for a phone game than getting one for free and having to deal with ads and microtransactions.

I can say without hesitation that this is one of the best games that I’ve ever played on a phone. It manages to reach (though not quite exceed) the heights attained by its predecessor, not simply by adding more levels, but also by layering on more meaning and depth. Instead of a lone character, you now control two, a mother and daughter. Sometimes the mother will get separated from her daughter, and you’ll have to find a way to get them back together. Other times, the two will intentionally separate, and you’ll explore what you can do on your own.

The story is fairly minimal (which is what I expected from this kind of game), but there are some pretty heavy themes throughout, which deal primarily with parenthood, from raising a child in the best way you can, to finally letting them go to discover themselves. Being a 20-something who doesn’t really think about this sort of thing, it was a little difficult to connect, though I could see how poignant it was, and it was definitely refreshing in these sometimes unbearably dark times we live in. I actually felt pangs of guilt whenever the mother got separated from her daughter, as if it were my fault, and a rush of relief when they were reunited again.

You can feel the love that usTwo Games put into this work. It feels like an intensely personal game, with a single unifying vision. This is why I love indie games: they are so much more unique, and they have so much more personality than their AAA counterparts. The video below of the launch of Monument Valley 2 gives a glimpse of how much the team put into this game.

The gameplay is pretty much identical to that of the first game: it’s an isometric game where you tap to move the character. You solve Escher-inspired puzzles by manipulating platforms and perspective to create pathways to the goal. Straightforward and intuitive, yet with enough brain-racking to keep you interested.

I did find this game much easier than the original, which could simply be because I applied what I learned in the first game, but at times it did feel as if the developer was either dumbing it down or had just run out of ideas. But especially later in the game, there were enough “oh shit!” moments where I realized how to proceed that I came away satisfied. I just wish that they’d added a new mechanic or two to keep things fresh (or at least had more of the cooler puzzles like there were toward the end).

The minimalist art style is as gorgeous as ever. It’s crisp, it’s clean, and it works very well on a phone. It’s the kind of thing that you want as your wallpaper, or as abstract art that you can hang in your office. The sound design, too, is worthy of mention—do yourself a favor and play with headphones on.

All in all, Monument Valley 2 doesn’t disappoint, and provides more of the great puzzle-solving and somber moments you loved about the original. I enjoyed my short time with it, though I do wish it had just a little more to offer. It comes very close to greatness, which honestly, is more than good enough for me when it comes to phone games. Support indie development and buy it!

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