Monument Valley 2, the surprise sequel to the mobile classic, is just as engrossing as the original. So much so, that I walked right past my office during my morning commute, as I was tapping on the screen to direct its protagonist Ro around the title's impossible cities.
For those unfamiliar with Monument Valley, this award-winning 2014 puzzle game won audiences over with its fantastic design. The Monument Valley games ask users to solve delightfully tricky (as in not-too-hard) puzzles, by moving pieces of impossible architectures that are reminiscent of MC Escher drawings.
Available now for $4.99, Monument Valley 2 is currently an iOS-exclusive (supporting both the iPhone and iPad), though an Android version is coming soon.
Within the first minutes of playing Monument Valley 2, I was reminded about what I loved about the original. Its ethereal soundtrack and lush level design wrapped me in its clutches before I noticed a quite substantial change: there's some story in this one.
Yes, the first Monument Valley title won me (and many others) over without giving much in the way of narrative, similar to how the whimsical adventure title Journey featured a very subtle story. Now, however, you're put in charge of a character named Ro, who has a daughter in tow.
Similar to most secondary characters in games, Ro's daughter isn't stuck to her mother. The game uses this to ask you to figure out how to reunite them, or separate them to unlock the next area.
The story of their travels is imbued with emotion, as the game's color palette and score ranges from bright, happy floral scenes before plunging down to dread in darker areas. Early on, I had the feeling that I was engaging with a interactive Pixar movie, as it reminded me of moments in Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc.
Having played the original, I found some of the puzzles in Monument Valley 2 to be a little easy. Fortunately, that hasn't been the case with every level I've played, and I still enjoyed the ones that were simplistic.
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Those who complained about the short length of the original game, which costs $3.99 and featured 10 levels, may find ways to be annoyed about the sequel, which costs $4.99 and offers 14 levels. After a couple of rounds of concentrated play through 7 levels, however, I'm not feeling any such frustration about having paid for the game myself.
Monument Valley 2 reminds me of a short-order Netflix series that I could binge if I wanted, but one that's of such high-quality that I'd rather space it out over time and not rush things. And while some may not be happy to pay for mobile games in the age of ad-supported freemium titles, let me note that the Monument Valley experience would be ruined by a garish blinking ad running at the bottom of the screen.
Sure, the best things in life are free, but some things are well worth paying for.