Monday, 21 August 2017

App Review No. 107 Monument Valley 2

Strong points:
Mind-bending puzzles
Full of character
Great art style
Interesting story
Set pieces have been upped in extravagance since the last game
Atmospheric music

Weak points:
Incredibly short
Some puzzles are frustrating, especially the last one

In-depth Review:

Release Dates:
World Wide: June 5th, 2017

Tap to move character
Slide to interact with the world

Monument Valley 2 is the sequel to, you guessed it, Monument Valley, a gem of a game from a couple of years ago. Featuring optical illusion puzzles in the style of MC Escher, it's one of my favourite games on the App Store. When the sequel dropped, I had to pick it up and try, so I did, and promptly finished it. Here lies the major problem with MV2. Let's focus on the positives first.

The biggest achievement for this game has to be the puzzles. Not only do they look incredible and get close to breaking your mind with perspective changes, but they also allow you to complete them with logic and patience - they're both intricate and simple at the same time. There was only one time, with the very last puzzle, where I was reduced to frantically spinning pieces to try and complete the puzzle, the rest were able to be completed just by looking at each step.

There's a mixture of old favourites (including the sentient column) and new mechanics, with my favourite probably being the tree. By increasing or decreasing the light intensity on a plant you can make it grow so as to reach different heights in the level. I like it because, being a tree, it feels the most natural and unconstructed of all the puzzles. Don't get me wrong, I love the sharp corners and precise nature of the other puzzles, but it was nice to see Monument Valley's charm and intelligence being able to be converted to a piece of nature as well.

The art style certainly helps you to slowly make your way through the puzzles. Clean, colourful and bright, the graphics, while not changing too much from the first game, benefit from the last few years' technical advancements with thrilling set-pieces showing the world changing before your eyes. The music is also an achievement, perfectly complimenting the game and its atmosphere, with this being one of the few games on the iPhone that I'd recommend playing with headphones.

I never expected to find so much emotion from the small polygons which make up the characters. but they're little movements, be them reactionary or deliberate filled me with feeling. I found that I actually cared about the characters more than some of the fully motion-captured and voice acted characters of recent AAA titles. Following Ro and her child on a journey I won't spoil here, you will find a nice and well-crafted tale of passing down responsibility to the next generation and growing up.

I quite like short games, Contrast and Abzû are two of my favourite games of this decade, but Monument Valley 2 feels cut short instead of coming to a conclusion gently. You're completing levels, feeling mildly pleased with yourself as you find the solution to another puzzle and then it just sort of ends. We needed something a bit more, maybe some more levels with both Ro and the child but overall it falls a bit flat.

Conclusion: a great sequel to Monument Valley, featuring well-crafted puzzles and plenty of charm, it's just a shame it feels too much like an expansion pack to wholly recommend

Rating: 75%

Thanks for reading, Satamer.

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