Monument Valley 2
Ustwo launched their serene puzzle-driven game, Monument Valley, a couple years back to considerable critical acclaim. And that's for good reason. In the age of Angry Birds, these developers offered a placid game about walking from one place to another. Along the way, you'd play with little bits of the world. Vibrant and elaborately designed, each stage looked like the Escher-inspired paintings your stoner college roommate had all over. Turns out, empty, surrealist landscapes make for splendid playgrounds – so much so that the game even had a brief star turn as Frank Underwood's favorite game on House of Cards.
Hoping to repeat that success, Ustwo quietly released their follow-up, Monument Valley 2, during Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference this week. And, once again, the studio has deftly carved delightful riddles into far-flung and abstract worlds. Some time ago, the mobile space was a desert for quality games. That thoughtful game design and art direction like this can yield success in the mobile space isn't just great for us as players, but for the future of gaming on smartphones in general.
Monument Valley 2 is also a lot more heartfelt – this time, the game uses its many levels to communicate the complex relationship between a woman and her daughter. Since the first game released in 2014, many of the staff at Ustwo had children, encouraging the team to tap into that creative energy and expound on what the first entry started. When art director David Fernández Huerta had to come back to work after his paternity leave, he used that anguish to fuel some of his designs. One stage is gray and joyless, because Huerta wanted it to "feel like he felt" at the time, he told The Verge. Bet you didn't expect so much went into the app you fiddle with while killing time at the airport, did you?
Monument Valley 2 is available for $4.99 on the iOS App Store. There'll no doubt be an Android version soon.