The original Gravity Rush (or Gravity Daze in Japan), a 2012 PS Vita game later released for PS4, was a pretty divisive game, even within the staff of this very site. Some chose to focus on the somewhat sub-par combat and plethora of loose ends left for a sequel that was not looking likely at the time. Others, like myself, chose to focus on the phenomenal environmental design, wonderfully endearing characters and spellbinding musical score that backed up the joy of falling with the game’s one-of-a-kind gravity mechanic to make it feel like a truly unique experience in a sea of games wider than ever.
Gravity Rush 2 picks up an unspecified amount of time after the first game, our hero Kat has become lost in a “gravity storm” a swirling red nebula at the bottom of Hekseville, the original game’s delightfully atmospheric floating city. She ends up in a mining colony for a little while in the tutorial section, which explains the gameplay well enough for a newcomer but I absolutely wouldn’t come into this game without having played the first. Not a negative knock at all, some stories just need to continue on. This is one of those stories. The back two thirds of this game would be complete gibberish to a newcomer, and the first wouldn’t make too much sense if you hadn’t seen the promotional “Gravity Rush: Overture” anime but that’s, somewhat mercifully, available for free on the PlayStation YouTube channel. So, with those conditions met, I think Gravity Rush 2 has a pretty enjoyable story, it has a little more to say than I expected, dipping into classism a little bit with how the new city of Jirga Para Lhao is divided into three areas that have massive vertical distances between them, a slum with sad violin music deep at the bottom near the storms, a bustling marketplace with cheery big band in the middle and a collection of greens and mansions with relaxing jazz far above. It doesn’t have anything radically out of the ordinary to say (“Rich people are bad actually”) but it was still pretty surprising to see.
The game does feel a little strangely paced, as if it was definitely more than one game at a point. It moves through plot threads with remarkable swiftness, introducing and resolving characters and ideas within a handful of mission, though maybe that’s just a result of the game’s increased focus on side-missions of which I’ve done about ¼. These side missions are remarkably varied, with most giving you a somewhat unique twist on the gameplay, not many of them turn into straight combat challenges, though those are also in the game with score requirements just as ludicrous as they were in the previous game. The aforementioned side-missions feel a little Yakuza-esque, having Kat get into a variety of zany situations for odd jobs around Hekseville and Jirga Para Lhao, such as acting as a decoy for an idol singer or a stunt actor in a film. It takes the DLC quests of the first game to their natural conclusion, with better writing and even more varied gameplay.
Thankfully, the combat feels massively improved from the first game, which some people (maybe even some people who write for this site) claimed was just a matter of gravity kicking to win. This is done with some pretty simple fixes. The standard airborne enemy now dodges your kicks, and the gravity stasis field has been buffed enough to make it more useful than the kick in the majority of fights and when you do need the kick to be effective, there are now two extra types of gravity kick, a faster kick with an instant teleport and a slower one with a charge-up period for more damage. Those come from the two new ‘gravity styles’ that Kat receives through the game, one of which makes traversal much more fun by giving you a massive jump that’s really satisfying to get the right timing for the charge on. It’s a sensation of movement rivalled only by the greats like Spider-Man 2 and Mirror’s Edge.
Gravity Rush 2 is a sequel in the truest sense of the word, building expertly on the core of the first game. A dearth of extra content compliments the strong main story, which wraps up enough of the first games’ loose ends to feel satisfying and this is all punctuated by a much-improved combat system. 2017 (in games at least, less said about the rest the better) is off to a fantastic start, and I can’t wait to take i. the rest of the content this game has to offer, on and off, over the next few months, especially that nice piece of free DLC in March.