Blockbuster mobile indie game Monument Valley very nearly went by a different name reveals lead designer Ken Wong in a new book.
It’s one of the most loved and successful indie games of all time. While plenty of other titles have been downloaded more times than Monument Valley, despite its impressive 50,000,000 result. Very few have done so as fully paid premium experiences. When the rest of the market was going free-to-play, developer ustwo Games remained unmoved, adamant Monument Valley’s gameplay experience was worth a price. And the studio was right.
Following the release of an expansion, Forgotten Shores in late 2014, a few sequel was released last week to iOS devices. (Android is coming soon.) Following the release of Monument Valley 2 has come a new book, available on Amazon and iTunes. The Making of Monument Valley: Secrets Behind the Best Indie Games was put together with help from Grab It and our interview with Ken Wong. Wong was the lead designer and artist behind the innovative gameplay.
We thought we would share with you an interesting quote from the book, to whet the appetite of those who may be interested in picking it up. It relates to the name of the game, or more accurately, what that name could have been. It turns out the developer circled a number of disparate titles before falling on Monument Valley. Here is the exact quote:
“The temporary name of the project was Tower of Illusion, which nobody actually liked. We spent many weeks arguing over a suitable name, with examples being Crow Season, The Garden of Geometric Delights, While She Wandered and Upper Escherlon.”
It’s a bit tacky, but I kind of like Upper Escheron. Tower of Illusion is way too Mickey Mouse, and Crow Season just makes no sense at all given the final product. The Garden of Geometric Delights is a very indie title as is While She Wandered. But ultimately you have to feel the team lent the right way in falling with Monument Valley. 50 million sales can’t be wrong!
If you’re as excited about the release of Monument Valley 2 as us, then why not learn the story behind the series’ creation.
With Monument Valley and its sequel, game design and hardware danced the merriest dance you’ve ever seen. The beautiful, intuitive touchscreen controls work so seamlessly with the unique MC Escher inspired puzzle-solving that it sucks you in and romances you completely. We fell in love with the first game, and are delighted at the arrival of the second.
Episode 3 of Grab It - the innovative, interactive iPad magazine – was home to the world exclusive Monument Valley making of experience. Designer Ken Wong took readers through the entire journey of its creation, detailing the inspirations, the challenges, and a tonne of behind-the-scenes information. If you’ve fallen in love with Monument Valley too, then you should dive in and check it out. You can grab Episode 3 from the App Store here.
In the three years between the two games, developer usTwo has more than doubled in size from 8 to 20 staff. With this extra manpower, Monument Valley 2 retains the same concept of challenging players to move parts of the landscape to open up pathways for its characters, but deepens it extensively. Puzzles expand to offer elements like portals and sunlight, there is a broader range of art styles between the stages, and there is much more meat to the storytelling. With 14 chapters, it’s also a much longer game, tackling one of the biggest criticisms of the original.
In short, it’s everything you want from a sequel. Taking a brilliant concept, plugging the holes and then taking it all to the next level. You can get Monument Valley 2 now right here. And make sure you check out Episode 3 of Grab It – it’s jam filled with other content, too.
Writer: Chris Stead
If you are wondering who we are, we're primarily a digital magazine for the iPad focused on the coverage of indie video games. Run by the former editor of Game Informer, you'll find worldwide exclusives, but also an interactive media experience unlike any you have seen before. If you have an iPad, you should check out the free sample issue at the very least, or enjoy one of our other episodes as listed below.