Gravity Rush 2 Review

Gravity Rush 2 Review

Falling Upwards

The unsung Gravity Rush was one of the gems of the Vita, eventually earning a remastered PlayStation 4 version that you’ve probably got in your library thanks to PlayStation Plus. Go play it if you haven’t, because it’s a lovely little title flush with exhilarating action sequences. Sony’s hoping to give the series the reception it deserves with Gravity Rush 2 , a PS4-exclusive release that plays on that ever-tempting buzzword, “open world.” Is bigger always better, though? It was something I had to ponder despite my general enjoyment of this lovingly-crafted sequel.

After saving her newly-adopted hometown of Hekesville in Gravity Rush , amnesiac gravity shifter Kat finds herself swept away by a grav storm and in the care of a hard-bitten mining tribe that operates out of the fantastical floating city of Jirga Para Lhao. Despite her primary goal of finding her friends and returning home, Kat soon finds herself swept up in the politics of this highly class stratified city. Whether mining for ore in bizarre rift worlds or soaring through Jirga Para Lhao’s majestic cityscape, Kat’s odd adventures are anchored by the relatable humanity of herself and her companions.

Gravity Rush 2 Screenshot

A bit Peter Pan, a bit Alice in Wonderland, Kat is a fearless, swashbuckling hero whose kind and trusting nature tends to land her in hot water. Her shifter counterpart Raven is fundamentally well-meaning, but cynical and impatient. Banga tribe leader Lisa is excellent at helping her tribe survive in harsh conditions, but so strict and severe that she’s difficult to deal with. Former cop and ladies’ man Syd comes through in a pinch, but is opportunistic and indolent most of the time. Thanks to some lovely storytelling in the form of lightly-animated comic book scenes, you come to love them in spite of their faults, and end up pulling for the people of Jirga Para Lhao despite their oh-so-human selfish tendencies.

Thanks to her celestial kitty companion, Dusty, Kat has the ability to shift gravity around herself. It looks like she’s flying, but she’s actually falling in whichever direction you choose. This series is aptly named, as controlling Kat is indeed a rush. The controls are set to “fast and loose,” but aiming is quite forgiving in order to compensate. There’s a great “whooshy” feeling about controlling Kat, and her gravity kicks land on her enemies with a satisfying feeling of contact. She’ll be fighting the strange alien Nevi creatures as well as human and mechanical enemies this time, giving more variety to her battles. Some of the huge bosses, like a giant sky whale Nevi, are particularly fun to fight.

The idea of Gravity Rush might be intimidating to anybody who has trouble with 3D games and environments, but the UI does a great job of anchoring you to enemy locations and other objectives using directional pointers. Kat’s hair and outfit also obey the normal rules of gravity, allowing you to figure out which way is “down” even when you’re at a random angle in the middle of the sky. I found that I rarely lost my way, either while exploring or in combat.

New to the this game are two special kinds of gravity that Kat can switch to freely once she’s unlocked them. Lighter gravity allows her to jump and shoot through the air without even shifting gravity (which can be useful, as she can only shift for so long before running out of energy) as well as smack down quick opponents. Heavy gravity slows her down, but allows her to hit harder. It also helps in situations that require more precise movement. These additions include their own special combos and add extra dimension to the basic gameplay. I quite enjoyed them.

Gravity Rush 2 Screenshot

When Kat is set free to shift and fight is when Gravity Rush 2 is at its best. This new world, far more colorful than the brown-tinged Hekesville, is well worth exploring. When out mining, Kat finds bizarre ruins, gigantic plants, and glistening giant bubbles that she can bounce off in light gravity. In the huge city of Jirga Para Lhao, she can race up and down skyscrapers, use her stasis field to toss crates and benches around colorful marketplaces, and battle the menacing Council’s mechanical troops on a massive floating fortress. These adventures are complemented by the game’s unique graphical style and the made-up language that its inhabitants speak. All these core story, gameplay, and design elements work together perfectly to anchor this unbelievable world in its own special kind of reality.

Gravity Rush 2 Screenshot

The problem comes in the fact that when you’ve got an open world, you have to fill it with things to do, and the quality of Gravity Rush 2 ‘s side activities varies widely. There are the combat and racing challenges that Gravity Rush veterans will remember, as well as a huge number of side quests and collectibles to chase down. There’s a little something for everyone, but also an awful lot of filler that’s dragged down by questionable design decisions.

There are the downsides you might expect, like a bunch of tedious fetch quests and scavenger hunts, but those aren’t Gravity Rush 2 ‘s biggest sins. The truly aggravating thing is the number of side activities that de-power Kat or require her to use stealth, for which she’s entirely unsuited. Kat is built for speed and explosive power, not lurking about hiding from guard patrols. She’s not much fun to play at all when she can’t shift or has to move slowly, requiring you to fight the controls in order to keep her from lurching forward full-tilt. She has no stealth abilities and there are no stealth-assisting UI displays, so it’s very easy to be accidentally spotted, which can lead to an automatic reset of all your progress. It’s frustrating, especially if your goal happens to be something like fetching 40 crates.

It’s very tempting to skip these side quests, but because there are so many activities available in the world, Kat’s character progression has become much more grindy. You have to find an awful lot of gravity gems in order to upgrade her combat moves, and all three gravity styles have their own upgrade trees. It’s very difficult to stick to the critical path while also giving Kat the tools she needs to face her greatest challenges. Skipping side quests also deprives you of a lot of story details, which is a shame considering how well the characters are written.

Gravity Rush 2 Screenshot

More fun are the light online activities like treasure hunts and challenges. If you find an apple-shaped treasure chest, you can send a treasure hunt into the world after taking a picture with the in-game camera as a hint. You’ll gain Dusty Points for finding treasures or guiding others to chests via your hints. You can also get points for taking pictures that other players rate highly or for beating challenges that they’ve sent out. Dusty Points reward cosmetic goodies, so you can ignore these activities if you like, but I found them to be a more entertaining diversion than some of the more drawn-out single-player activities.

Despite its open-world growing pains, Gravity Rush 2 is a charming game that’s well worth playing, both for its story and its quality action moments. I just feel that it would have been a stronger overall title if it were more streamlined and leaned more on its best qualities rather than shoehorning in activities that don’t match with its action-packed, gravity-shifting theme. Still, with a bit of patience for its foibles, I think you’ll find that Kat’s adventures in this weird world are quite worthwhile.

The dreamy graphical style introduced in the original Gravity Rush only looks better with more vibrant colors. 3.8 Control
Controls work excellently in core gameplay scenarios, but are not well-suited to stealth sequences. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Nicely composed background pieces and Team Ico-style gibberish voiceovers contribute to the world’s unique feel. 3.5 Play Value
Sometimes bigger isn’t better. Too many tedious and frustrating side activities weigh down an otherwise thrilling and tightly designed experience. 3.8 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Gravity-Based Action – The franchise’s famous gravity-based action mechanics have evolved with two additional styles, the lighter Lunar Style and heavier Jupiter Style, each with their own unique attacks. Switch seamlessly between the three distinct gravity styles, and partner with Raven to execute devastating tag-team attacks.
  • Vast Open World – Enter a bright and bustling floating city, bursting with life. Manipulate gravity with the motion sensors of the Dualshock 4 wireless controller to soar and traverse a vast and detailed open world, 2.5 times larger than the original, packed with an abundance of missions to keep Kat busy.
  • Signature Art Style – French “bande dessinée” comic book aesthetic is artfully blended with Japanese manga and anime influences to create a unique and beautiful atmosphere, with cityscapes and characters and brought to life in stunning detail on PlayStation 4.

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