Monument Valley II: Growing Old And Up.

I don’t know what Monument Valley was about, if it was even about anything at all. I just wanted to guide Ida, the princess in white, through the twisting towers and caverns of the crumbling kingdom in the sky. So I did.

Then I needed more. So I waited for 3 years.

And in the first week of June, it arrived.

UStwo Games sprung a surpise announcement of the games’ sequel, Monument Valley II, on Monday, June 3, at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference, during a demo of the company’s latest iPhone operating software, iOS 11.

The first game was a vibrant work of art that I had never seen before on a mobile game. A simple puzzler that’s colors and score all but transported you to the mystical valley Ida calls home. I had it completed in a week, then beat it again, and again until I finally replaced my iPhone and forgot to reinstall it. So the moment I saw it on screen during the demonstration, I was ready to download.

I expected the labryths of Penrose stairs, the prismatic mountains and ruins of a past civilization, and whatever that stack of possessed one-eyed blocks is called. But this time around, what jumped out at the most was the addition of a small story about parenting, growing up, and growing old.

Screenshots from Monument Valley II

Instead of our silent princess, Ida, this time our journey is with Ro and her daughter as she introduces her daughter to the Valley.

The puzzles in the first few levels are instantly familiar. You twist dials that warp stair cases, rotate blocks to new angles that reveal hidden paths, and activate switches that drastically alter your environment.

But soon, Ro stops following her mother and the two separated. Now, your task becomes two fold, as you move Ro and her daughter in tandem to the solve the Monument’s puzzle.

Just a couple levels later, Ro and brings her daughter to the docks and she watches as her daughter sails away, off to new shores. This was when the meaning behind Monument Valley began to dawn on me. There was an actual story here.

The next level brings Ro to a dreary, monochromatic tower in the midst of a rain storm, a reflection of Ro’s feelings. As you keep climbing, you encounter one of Ro’s ancestors that trys to comfort her, saying,

Sometimes it feels like nothing has changed, when everything is different. Separate paths can still be part of the same journey. Your journey is one that must continue.

Across the ocean, Ro’s daughter begins her journey on a new land and before you are able to get any further, she is treated to words from one of her ancestors too,

Our shadows grow long as we wait for one worthy to take up our mantle. She has taught you well, but there is still more to learn. The path will be hard. But remember, we walked it too.

The story of Monument Valley II is a mother preparing her daughter for life — albeit one of Indiana Jonesing her way through levitating kingdoms.

Ro provided her daughter with the best lessons and protection she could before it finally became time for her child to sail off on her own. Just like anyone’s parents try to their best to do with the children of their own.

Letting go of people you love can seem and feel impossibly hard. Anxiety can start to consume you and quickly turn into fear. Not just fear for the other person, but for yourself and how you will be able to carry on.

Ro is faced with the same dilemma, but reminded of her larger purpose, she persists.

Of course, beginning your own journey in life is like crossing a turbulent ocean alone. There’s hardship, storms, and even the possibility of “sharks” waiting to take advantage of a slip up. It all seems perilous, but as you must remember, your parents were able to navigate the rough waters. So can you.

And sure enough, not long into her solo journey, Ro’s daughter finally makes a transformation into adulthood, ready to conquer any maze in the valley.

By the end of the game, these little stories grow into a even larger story about mortality and the legacy we leave behind.

The Valley is littered with opulent palaces that have fallen into decay. What’s absolutely clear is that a lasting monument won’t be the statues or castles we build or the trophies we collect. In time, they will crumble like everything else.

True monuments can’t erode because they are not a physical thing. They’re what we’ve done to pass the torch to the next generation and prepare them for a world that’s filled with problems, mazes, and countless twists and turns.