Review: Gravity Rush 2 (PS4)

Much ado about Gravity

Developer: Project Siren
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Genre: Action, AdventureThird Person,
Platforms: PS4
Rating: T for Teen
Price: $59.99
After the success of the first Gravity Rush, Sony decided to publish its sequel. The first game was released on the PS Vita, it being one of the first games released with the handheld console. It gained popularity with its use of its touch screen gameplay – which was both new and frustrating. After the Vita lost its relevance, Sony brought the remastered version of Gravity Rush to the PS4 along with its sequel, Gravity Rush 2. Utilizing the capabilities of the PS4, Project Siren has created larger worlds, more in-depth missions, and even more collectibles, tripling the size of Gravity Rush. Compared to its predecessor’s gameplay—which only amounted to about fifteen hours—Gravity Rush 2 takes about forty-five hours to complete.
Gravity Rush 2 is a vast world full of adventure, great story, and memorable characters that will leave you mesmerized and enthralled. That being said, there are several things about the game that could have been better, like gameplay or transitions between segments. Despite its flaws (which are few), this game is underrated and quite a shame that it is so widely unknown and unfamiliar to even the most seasoned gamer.

In the story, you play as Kat (right) and fight alongside your past enemy-turned-ally Raven (left).

Content Guide

Spiritual Content: Spirituality and deities are very much alive in this game. There are three “beings” that preside over all of the different dimensions. These beings created the world and have mostly left things alone, silently watching to see what will happen. But once catastrophe hits, they resolve to get involved and guide Kat throughout her adventure in order to save the world that they created. Many of the common city folk talk about “the Creator” and even speak praises to him when Kat casually talks to them. It’s all very mythical and the player is left in the dark a lot, with small hints as to what happened in the world and who was really behind certain events. There is also a scene in which Kat battles a monster that is very much demon-like.
Violence: There are a few graphic scenes in which a man gets stabbed in the back and another man is shown impaled with blood dripping from his wounds. Cartoon violence is everywhere as Kat’s main objective is to fight creatures called “Nevi.” There is also the use of guns, explosives, and suicide bombings during some battles.
Language/Crude Humor: There is no language or crude humor in this game as all of the dialogue is in Japanese. There was no vocal translation done for the US release of this game. All text is in English while all voice is in Japanese.
Sexual Themes: There are no direct sexual references in Gravity Rush 2, but sensuality is present in that some of the characters are dressed in provocative ways. Raven’s clothes cover her bosom and her lower region, leaving her belly exposed. All other girls with superpowers in the game usually have revealing clothing; one girl almost wearing nothing at all and instead is covered in light, only showing the form of her body.
Drug/Alcohol Use: Some characters are shown with a bottle in hand and others are shown smoking. There is a mission in which a child asks Kat to help him stop his father from drinking too much.
Positive Themes: Gravity Rush 2 is abundant in positive themes. Themes such as love, faith, trust, hope, friendship, sacrifice, compassion, kindness, and never giving up are all touched on. The main character, Kat, demonstrates all of these and does not falter from what she believes in: human life is valuable and that everyone deserves to live. She knows that there is good in everyone and is quick to sacrifice herself for people she does not even know. This is what love is and the game excels at demonstrating that. In one scene, Kat is tempted to throw away all of her virtues and give in to death; still she does not yield.

 

Kat chilling with her cat, Dusty.

Review

Many games are fun, but few games are enthralling. Imagine a Studio Ghibli movie or Anime about a girl who comes from nowhere and saves an entire city using the power she has been so mysteriously blessed with. No explanation is given as you are thrown into this world and no explanation is required, really. Gravity Rush 2 invites intrigue and delivers hours of entertainment. Of course, it is not without faults—no game is. But what it lacks in a few areas, it makes up for in others, which will leave you wanting to play more.

The game uses much-needed markers for your objectives (otherwise, you would get lost. Trust me on that).

Gameplay is based around the whole idea of being able to control gravity, which is your superpower (the game later explains how you acquired it). Kat starts off with her powers gone, but she quickly finds them again, cutting the tutorial short, and a short tutorial is a good tutorial. Her main form of transportation is to change the direction of gravity to be able to “fall” in any direction. There is a gravity gauge, which runs out eventually so she is limited to the amount of time she can change gravity, or basically “fly” around.
She has several attacks in her normal mode which she can use to defeat the troublesome Nevi, but sometimes it’s not enough and battles can drag on. This is why it is especially good that the developers added two other fighting styles, which allow Kat to use a light, quick style or a heavy, yet powerful technique. These are called Lunar and Jupiter styles, respectively, and she earns them as the game progresses. They are a fantastic addition and can speed along battles quite nicely. There is honestly nothing more satisfying than charging up a kick and launching yourself at a strong enemy, leaving him in pieces. Apart from these styles, Kat has a special attacks that she can use once the special gauge is powered up. These are great in a pinch. She can also form a gravity field that will summon anything light nearby to launch as projectiles. This helps to defeat those far enemies or when you’re lazy and don’t want to fly over to deal a gravity kick. A gravity kick is just that: a heavy kick in the direction you’re falling. It’s strong and can take out an enemy with one swift move. But it’s a bit spotty and can be annoying since it is a one-shot move. If you miss, you end up free-falling in the direction you kicked. Having to stop, turn the camera around, and attack again can be frustrating.

Changing gravity means you can fall in any direction you aim. This means you can also stand on any surface without trouble.

One of the worst parts of the game is the camera. When you’re in a pinch, leave it to the camera to be caught behind a wall nearby or an enemy. If you go too fast, the camera won’t follow you and it will get jumbled around, forcing you to center the camera (the camera usually goes crazy right as you get attacked). It can be extremely frustrating and can definitely cause Kat to lose battles due to the camera’s failure to track her. As you battle Nevi throughout the game, you will be changing gravity a lot, and you will get turned around. The camera does not turn with you, meaning you will end up looking at everything sideways and or diagonally. It is almost as if the game does this on purpose to give you this dizzy feeling as you move about the city.

The cities you visit are always lively and have plenty for Kat to do.

The environments Kat navigates are beautiful and fun to explore. Kat can upgrade her moves to be stronger, but for that, “ore” is needed. Lucky for her, there are ore crystals floating all over the city. This is a great way to motivate the player to spend some time flying around the city and enjoying the atmosphere. It never feels dead since there are many NPC’s walking around. Kat can chat with them and some may even give her side missions to do. These missions are a great way to wander away from the story and allows the player to get a better understanding of what is going on in the world of Gravity Rush 2.
Most of the side missions consist of delivering a package, flying around the city as fast you can, or defeating a group of enemies. They do tend to get tedious and after a while it feels like all you’re doing is taking something (person or package) from point “a” to point “b”—simple and repetitive. Other missions are stealth missions and require Kat to tail a suspicious person or infiltrate a fortress. While these would seem like fun, they can be tricky and too difficult to enjoy. The story missions are fun and have Kat doing a variety of things from climbing a mysterious tower to acquiring some new powers (and trying them out in a set of challenges). There is also an online community in which players send snapshots of hidden treasures to other random players to aid in them finding it. This mode is delightful and offers a minor amusement to the player. Plus, the treasure chests are full of ore, which help with leveling up more quickly!

Instead of cutscenes, Gravity Rush 2 has comic strip scenes, giving it a sort of “graphic novel” feel.

Another mediocre part about the game is the fact that there are no cutscenes. All of the character interactions take place among comic strips like those shown above. While it is still fun to watch, some cutscenes would have been more engaging and entertaining in the long run. The transitions between missions also need some work, since once Kat is done with a mission, a loading screen appears and suddenly Kat is somewhere else, with no transition in between. These are too abrupt and perhaps a cutscene—or even a comic strip—would have been great to ease the transition from one location to another.
Aside from the gameplay, the music of the game is incredible and creates the perfect mood for each scene. The composer, Kohei Tanaka, also does the music for One Piece, one of the longest running Anime shows. From calm environments, like a quiet cityscape, to crisis situations like an invasion, his music fits the bill perfectly. You can listen to a taste of the music here, which is the track played when Kat is forced to battle Raven. It almost seems like Tanaka has a preference for the saxophone, since it’s in most of the tracks from the game. His music emanates jazzy themes, though it also contains fantastic strings and horns. If you want to hear a more calm environment, check out this track, which plays in Kat’s house. It reminds me of the music from Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, which was a game done by Studio Ghibli and Level 5.

One of the more annoying Nevi, but one charged up kick in Jupiter style takes care of him.

On top of everything, the story is what shines the most. It’s a tale of discovery, a tale of fantasy, a tale of heroism—in this case, a heroine. It’s becoming more and more common to see a woman as a hero in modern video games. Along with that comes this feeling of “independence.” This can be seen in Kat as she sees what needs to be done, tells others what they need to do, and even when they do not listen, she proceeds on her own. The only other person who stands by her is Raven, also a woman. So there is very much this sense of strong-willed women as protagonists. On another note, the story tends to take twists and turns and it can leave the player with many questions. It might successfully conclude a story arc, but leaves us asking even more questions. For example, there comes a point in the game where a close friend of Kat’s dies, but later on she learns that he has been dead this whole time, before she even had her powers. Then we are told that the “beings” gave him a “form” in order to assist Kat in her mission. But there is a twist in the story and we find out he was actually the main villain in the first Gravity Rush. That’s not a twist, it’s just flat-out confusing. But honestly, it wouldn’t be  a Japanese game without twists, no matter how absurd.
Finally, the art style and graphics in this game are fantastic. The art takes this wispy feel to it that goes great with the whole weightless anti-gravity theme. The graphics are great too, though at times they can be buggy. I had to restart a mission a few times because I got caught inside a wall or in the floor, but it didn’t happen too much to really affect the quality. The cityscapes are lovely, and are themed to the type of people that live there. For example, houses look drab, the air looks dirty, and there are small islands everywhere when Kat travels to the poor district in the lowest part of the city. Even the song turns sad. But once she travels to the rich district, there is nothing but big islands, roomy mansions, and brilliant light shining through the clouds. The music that plays sounds like Kat has traveled to Heaven. Vivid themes like these are what made me want to fly around instead of using the teleport system to get to an island faster.

The Finishing Move performed by Kat and Raven together.

Gravity Rush 2 explores some great gameplay through a wide open world with a great story. While it suffers by its faulty camera, lack of cutscenes, and a frequently confusing timeline, it still stays as a great game and a definite buy for those who enjoyed the first Gravity Rush. For those new to the franchise, if you enjoy open world games, you will not be sorry.

The Bottom Line

With setbacks that could have made it a bad game, Gravity Rush 2 pulls through with its compelling story and fun gameplay.

 

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John Campbell

Based in San Diego, California, John enjoys working, writing, eating with friends and family, and gaming - both board games and video games. After earning a Bachelor's Degree in Humanities, he currently works in IT, but hopes to one day become a full time college professor and writer. His recent favorite games include Persona 5 and NieR: Automata.

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