There was a time when Dan Gray did not assume Monument Valley 2 was going to occur. The head of Ustwo Games swore it, saying publicly that his staff was executed with Monument Valley, the isometric puzzle recreation that has been downloaded greater than 50 million occasions since its launch in 2014.
For some time it appeared that approach. Months after releasing the unique recreation, Ustwo adopted up with Forgotten Shores, a pack of extension ranges to develop the unique recreation. A 12 months after that, the staff launched its first VR title, Land’s End, a beautiful exploration of what the medium might be. And then, the studio went quiet.
Beneath the floor, although, lots was taking place on the studio: It cut up from its guardian firm Ustwo, and opened its personal self-sustaining studio referred to as Ustwo Games. It expanded its employees from eight to 20 individuals, and began to experiment with what might come subsequent. The reply, it turned out, was the precise reverse of what Gray anticipated: a sequel to Monument Valley.
Today, Ustwo Games releases Monument Valley 2, a 16-level comply with as much as the 2014 blockbuster. The recreation is sort of a funhouse mirror of the unique: On the floor it seems and performs like the primary Monument Valley, however a better look reveals a deeper, smarter recreation than earlier than.
Into the Valley
The very first thing you’ll discover about Monument Valley 2 is the familiarity. The opening scene options an avatar named Ro sitting atop a bit of geometric structure. Revisit the first recreation, and also you’ll see an almost similar opening tableau—the identical dusty blue colours, the identical structure. Even Ro bears a hanging resemblance to Ida, the primary character from the unique.
But quickly, you’ll discover all of the variations. Ustwo set Monument Valley 2 in a special nook of the identical universe. It nonetheless revolves round fixing architectural puzzles, which themselves really feel manageable and acquainted, however that’s the place the similarities finish. Monument Valley 2 is subtly extra refined than its predecessor. “If you return and play the primary Monument Valley, it feels form of retro,” Gray says. Small issues—like a sleeker, sans serif typeface and generative audio that modifications once you activate sure mechanics—make the replace really feel trendy. The staff pushed the inventive boundaries on sure ranges, too, changing the sport’s signature isometric geometry with flat drawings in a single world.
The greatest change, although, is the storyline. In the second scene of the sport, you meet a brand new character: Ro’s tiny, anonymous daughter, who accompanies her mom on the journey by way of the Valley.
The maternal bent isn’t coincidence. Monument Valley 2‘s growth coincided with a time when Ustwo’s employees was beginning to have kids, which sparked a dialog across the gaming world and its depiction of moms. “We realized there weren’t enough games about motherhood,” Gray says. “And when you do see mothers they’re often seen as something vulnerable or something to protect.”
Ustwo subverts that widespread narrative by acknowledging the nuanced relationship between mother and father and their kids. Together, Ro and her youngster journey collectively from world to world, counting on one another to maneuver monuments and resolve puzzles. At first, the kid follows Ro, mimicking her each transfer. Later, Ro encourages the kid to take the lead and forge her personal path by way of the degrees. The recreation is, in some ways, a metaphor for the ever-evolving relationship between youngster and guardian: one which shifts from reliance, to mutual respect, to a reversal of caregiving.
In that approach, Monument Valley 2 feels much less like a big-budget cell recreation and extra like one born of the indie world, which tends to worth ambiance and narrative over factors and different typical metrics of success. That’s to not say it is aimless. Unlocking *Monument Valley 2’*s storyline requires ending puzzles and ascending ranges, however the overtly tugs-at-the-heartstrings narrative offers gamers a way or objective that they may not have felt with the unique.
In the tip, the connection between mom and youngster creates a deeper bond with a recreation that might in any other case be seen merely as a gorgeous puzzler. Gray calls the tactic “trojan horsing” emotion. “We engage people with the visuals and charming mechanics and impossible geometry first,” he says. “That way, we manage to get a whole bunch of new people who didn’t know they wanted emotion from video games to play.”