Gravity Rush was one of those rare releases that painted a picture of just what the Vita could accomplish. Unique visuals, practically unheard of gameplay mechanics, and a detailed world all contained on a small, sleek handheld system. It took advantage of what made the system so good and became one of the most celebrated titles on the platform. Four years later and Gravity Rush 2 is making its way to the masses, this time on the PS4. With the jump to a home console, does Gravity Rush 2 lose its charm, or does it shine even brighter?
Gravity Rush 2 continues the story of Kat, an amnesiac girl who woke up with the ability to control gravity in the first game, giving her fantastical abilities and taking her on a series of adventures. The sequel picks up after the first game, but there is a gap filled by the short tie-in animation, Gravity Rush the Animation ~Overture~.
Kat and Syd find themselves in a strange new city, Jirga Para Lhao, and soon get wrapped up in a new adventure with a large cast of entirely new characters. At first, the game feels like it’s purposefully choosing not to address the story of the first game or the anime tie-in, and while the new adventure is interesting and the new characters are great, it sometimes felt awkward that nobody was really acknowledging the issues of the Missing Orphans Case from the first game.
Thankfully, the game eventually begins to flesh things out surrounding the original’s town of Hekseville and the characters who inhabit it. The first entry left a lot of questions unanswered, mainly surrounding Kats origins and who she was before the beginning of the game, but the final arc of Gravity Rush 2 dives deep into that lore, and seeing many of these mysteries finally get resolved got a bit emotional.
The story is tied together by equally unique gameplay. If you played the first game on Vita or the PS4 remaster, many of the mechanics remain unchanged, in particular, the combined analogue stick and motion control. Kat can use her gravity shifting ability to send herself flying in any direction, walk along any surface, slide across streets and up buildings, and more. These abilities also play into combat, with gravity-boosted homing kicks and projectile attacks.
Kat also has basic attacks when on the ground, but just like the first game, it’s probably the weakest aspect of her arsenal. Attack animations and hit detection are a bit improved, and there are a handful of new types of attacks you can pull off, but it still just ends up feeling a bit lackluster compared to the rest of your arsenal.
My habit of mainly using gravity kicks was swiftly given the boot, as I soon unlocked a new set of abilities that really shake up the game. Kat eventually gains the ability to switch between three different styles of gravity manipulation: her standard style, a floatier Lunar style, and a heavier Jupiter style.
Lunar style is all about super jumps and soaring through the sky like you could in Prototype, while Wormhole kicks now teleport short distances and your basic attack automatically homes in on enemies. It’s perfect for dealing with fast airborne enemies and looking flashy as hell. Jupiter, meanwhile makes you slow and hefty on the ground, while gravity kicks are now a chargeable shockwave explosions that destroys grounds of enemies and sends debris flying.
You can change between all three of these on the fly to create all manner of new combat strategies. I often found myself falling to the ground quickly with Jupiter style and switching to Lunar at the last minute to avoid crashing, or doing the opposite to create a huge shockwave upon landing. The game never gives you enemies that can only be damaged in a certain form, so it’s up to you to take advantage of these abilities how you see fit.
I also found myself taking advantage of Lunar style outside of combat. Gravity Rush 2 takes place in a huge, open world of island cities that are rich with people, activities and hidden treasures, but for most of the game I would simply fly past all of it to get to my next destination. It wasn’t until I unlocked Lunar style and could hop around the city and soar past buildings and through streets that I was able to really appreciate all of the detail and vibrancy that the world had to offer.
The side activities are a heap of fun, with a number of asynchronous multiplayer modes. There’s a photo mode that lets you take pictures throughout the entire game for other players to vote on, as well as treasure hunts that other players can share hints for online. Gravity and combat trials also make a return, and players can challenge each other to those as well. Little things like this really help break up the pacing and give you stuff to do when you’re not tackling main missions.
The main story missions in this game are pretty great, by the way. The first few episodes are a slow burn, taking longer to let you loose than the original, but as you get into the meat of the story, the mission design also opens up. There are great set pieces, and a variety of boss battles that more often than not rely on your own combat ability rather than traditional boss battle gimmicks. There are even a bunch of stealth missions that actually work really well, especially one in which you do synchronized enemy takedowns with your partner Raven. A lot of side missions feel just as fleshed out as the main ones, except that their stories tend to be a lot goofier than the main game, giving you a lot of great character moments. I’ll never forget the side mission that mixed stealth mechanics and ice cream advertising.
One thing that many might be wondering is if this game really needed to be on PS4, and I’d say it was absolutely worth the jump. It doesn’t create a vastly different experience to the first game, and it still feels like the quirky Japanese handheld action game a lot of the time, but it’s a game that feels much more polished. Characters look sharper, environments are more colourful, and city streets are packed with vendors and civilians. Gravity shifting causes environmental destruction and debris to fly around, too. The only real disappointment is that the game runs at 30fps, when Gravity Rush Remastered managed 60fps.
Gravity Rush 2 is everything I wanted out of a sequel. It’s bigger, better, it’s drop-dead gorgeous and it never stagnates. You’re always given something new to play wit, whether it’s a new power, a new city, a new gameplay element. Every time I found myself settling into things, the game added one more thing onto my already packed plate, and I always welcomed it. The beautiful world, the wonderful character and the constantly evolving gameplay had me glued to my seat for hours, and for as much as I came to love the first Gravity Rush, it never had me feeling as engaged as the sequel has managed to.