Mon­u­ment Val­ley 2

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EDGE - - GAMES -

Asec­ond set of Escher-es­que puz­zle-box worlds to tinker with, and click­ing to­gether the pieces still thrills. In­quis­i­tive taps and swipes of sus­pect chunks of ar­chi­tec­ture are re­warded with mu­si­cal chimes or un­ex­pected so­lu­tions. Your goal is sim­ple: to cre­ate a path, no mat­ter how math­e­mat­i­cally im­pos­si­ble. If the edges line up, then logic be damned – pro­tag­o­nist Ro will hap­pily walk it.

Get­ting Mon­u­ment Val­ley 2’ s diminu­tive hero­ine from point A to point B is the point, see. But there are no pesky crow en­e­mies to avoid bump­ing into this time around. All the chal­lenge now lies in the struc­tures them­selves – tiny, varied, self-con­tained labyrinths that grind into new for­ma­tions or un­fold like lily flow­ers un­der your god­like fin­ger­tips.

Their me­chan­i­cal va­ri­ety and cre­ativ­ity has been no­tice­ably broad­ened. Val­ley vet­er­ans will recog­nise the tell-tale studs that sig­nify an in­ter­ac­tive plat­form, or totem-pole bud­dies that can be moved while you’re rid­ing atop them. But now there are a few ex­tra steps on your jour­ney. One level has you pull its candy-coloured is­lands into cross-sec­tions, re­ar­range their in­sides, then click them back to­gether to en­gi­neer a way for­ward. An­other adds an ex­tra layer of per­spec­tive trick­ery onto pro­ceed­ings, where ro­tat­ing the scene trans­forms it into an in­scrutable cu­bist paint­ing.

In true Mon­u­ment Val­ley tra­di­tion, at­mos­phere and whimsy tend to trump ac­tual chal­lenge. There’s an end­less stream of new me­chan­i­cal treats to wrap your head around, but some of the best ideas – tele­port­ing doors and mag­netic light bridges, for ex­am­ple – feel un­der­de­vel­oped by a few steps.

But Mon­u­ment Val­ley 2 is a story all about grow­ing pains. Ro is mother to a child; the sprog par­al­lels her move­ments and, nat­u­rally, wants to stay close – a sweet, but lo­gis­ti­cally com­pli­cated, quirk use­ful for coax­ing her to­wards more elu­sive switches. There are some de­light­ful links be­tween nar­ra­tive and de­sign: when paths di­verge, changes in sound and colour re­flect Ro’s tur­moil – but your time as a newly in­de­pen­dent child is de­fined by il­lu­mi­na­tion and dis­cov­ery.

And yet, de­spite the sheer, breath­less vol­ume of new ideas, there’s a sense of won­der miss­ing from the se­quel. The well-mean­ing tale feels a lit­tle rote in com­par­i­son to the first game’s su­per­nat­u­ral arc of re­demp­tion, while its more com­plex but un­der­cooked new ideas frus­trate rather than in­spire. Still, there’s no doubt that on a struc­tural level, Ustwo has built some­thing bolder and rang­ier than its pre­de­ces­sor. As a whole, how­ever, it doesn’t present quite as seam­lessly – and just a lit­tle of that Möbius-loop magic is lost.

The best lev­els hinge on a grand trick of per­spec­tive. The monochro­matic fortress in the cen­tre im­age only be­comes 3D when ro­tated. An­other level is a neon Ma­tryoshka of puz­zles, zoom­ing into scenes within scenes.

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