Gravity Rush 2 Review Laws of Mewton
Developer: SIE Japan Studio
Platform: PlayStation 4
ESRB Rating: T
A retail copy was purchased by the reviewer for this review.
Gravity Rush 2 is one of the prime reasons why I love Japanese videos games. They tend to be filled with weird and fun ideas that just can’t be seen anywhere else— and this game is no different. Gravity Rush 2 has you play as Kat, the self-proclaimed “Gravity Queen” as she’s able to shift gravity to her will with the help of her cat, Dusty. The game takes place immediately after Gravity Rush Overture, a 20 minute animation that ends with Kat being separated from Raven and Dusty due to a gravity storm. Outside of the last few minutes, I wouldn’t say it’s a “must” watch, but it does help fill in some of the blanks. Naturally, it would be highly recommended if you played the first game as well as there will be a ton of returning characters.
The story itself is told in what feels like separate parts. As mentioned earlier you’re separated from your friend that is a fellow gravity shifter, Raven, and your partner Dusty. You do however have Syd by your side, and with the both of you, you lend your help to the Banga settlement. By help, I mean serve their leader Lisa and do whatever task she gives you. Those who work are those who eat in her book. Eventually the settlement moves to the city, Jirga Para Lhao. Once in the city, the world is yours. The game is immediately opened up to you and you aren’t gated, so you’re free to explore as much as you want. I would’ve loved to continue Gravity Rush on the go with my Vita, but taking my first steps into this city, I realized that that wasn’t possible. On a relative scale, the world is huge yet feels incredibly small and cramped. On the bright side, it always feels like there’s constantly something to do somewhere. Nothing feels out of place. Exploring the world just feels fantastic. Just like the first game, soaring through the air is nothing but pure bliss. To match that bliss, the music is an absolute blast to listen to. If you watch anime, you might’ve heard Tanaka Kohei’s music from One Piece or even the original Dragonball. The feeling of adventure and exploration is just riddled everywhere in the game’s orchestral score.
The main story and the stories that unfold through it are great. Each arc feels like a complete game, which, honestly, feels kind of weird. The game itself is told in four chapters and the first two could hold their own as a separate game, with the third being yet another separate game, and the final being just kind of there as a four or five hour long post game mission. Each of the game’s arcs just feels tonally different from one another, due to the fact that none of them seem to really connect. Not to mention how the plot feels like a jumbled mess at times because things tend to happen out of nowhere due to “reasons”. Said “reasons” are barely and rarely explained. If they are explained, it’s by a very thin string. It’s not exactly a bad thing per se because when things get crazy, the game does the right thing and embraces how crazy it gets by becoming even crazier. At the same time, it would’ve been nice if things were fleshed out a bit more. Like I stated earlier, a lot of the arcs felt like they could have been their own game entirely.
The further you go in the story, the more side-events open up to you. These side-events lend to what makes Gravity Rush so great. One minute, Kat’s using her powers to be a firefighter, the next she’s delivering papers, being a gardener, a miner, a sales rep, the star in the next hit movie, Battle Nurse; you name it, she’s probably done it. The industry absolutely needs more characters like Kat. Is she somewhat childish and naive? Sure. But at the same time she wants to help who she can whenever she can. She’s neither flawed nor flawless. She’s just written as a normal person and the game treats her as such.
One of the big things that makes Gravity Rush 2 different than the first game is the inclusion of a camera. With it you can take pictures anywhere and at any time; whether you’re falling from the sky, just floating in the area or just standing on the ground. Along with the ability to be used online, the camera has different filters you can unlock and certain side missions will unlock items that you can put in the image as well. What really sets it apart, though, is that it adds a little more variety to game as most of the missions that involve stealth also involve use of the camera. For example, in one side mission you have to sneak around a bunch of guards to take pictures of their base and then get out of there. For what they’re worth, stealth missions are a nice addition to mission variety, however, they just aren’t good. Telling someone that can manipulate gravity to stop manipulating gravity makes things way slower and ultimately mundane. They just aren’t fun. The guards are very easy to get around, and if one sees you, you can just beat them up before it’s too late. The camera doesn’t exactly add stealth to the game either.
Gameplay in Gravity Rush 2 is pretty much the same as it were in the first game to almost every degree. If you’ve played the first game, you pretty much know the drill in how everything works. Kat can only control gravity for so long before her gravity gauge runs out. Whether you’ve run it dry or used it for a little bit and stopped after a few seconds the gauge will refill automatically, allowing you to do it all over again. Kat also has a SP gauge that fills up when she’s kicking her opponents; once filled up, she can use a special attack. The SP gauge slightly decreases when using your stasis field though, so be mindful of when you want to throw something at an enemy or had enough and just throw them off a ledge or something. The game does mix up gameplay a little bit by adding two extra forms to the mix: Lunar and Jupiter.
Lunar style, as the name implies, makes you feel as if you’re on the moon. You’re not exactly slower, but you’re definitely floatier. You can now charge your jumps to jump extremely high in the air. When on a ledge, you can rocket jump too which truly makes you feel like you’re soaring through the air. Granted, it’s only for a little while before you essentially hit the ground head-first, much like a rocket. When in this form, Kat’s move-set is much different than her normal form. When performing kicks while shifting, instead of a dive-kick, she actually opens up a wormhole to her opponents and kicks them. This especially works on faster opponents you might have trouble hitting otherwise. When getting items to throw via her stasis field, they don’t do as much damage, but they do stun her opponents for a short while. And when her SP gauge is full, unlike her normal form where she’s practically drilling into her opponents, here it’s more of the entire field becomes enraptured in a stasis and she throws everything at her opponents as if they were getting by a meteor shower.
Her other mode, Jupiter, acts as the exact opposite of Lunar. Instead of feeling almost weightless, you become heavy, very heavy. So heavy in-fact that, when dodging, Kat barely moves; she just covers her head and calls it a day. She doesn’t really kick when grounded either, she punches instead. When shifting, her kick becomes a chargeable drop kick. The longer you charge it, the farther it will go and the more powerful it will become. It’s absolutely fantastic to use on groups of grounded enemies as they’re hit with the shock-wave of your impact. When you use your stasis, you don’t have multiple items to carry as they all come together to form one big piece of rubble to throw against an opponent. Lastly, once her SP gauge is full, she becomes the center of a black hole with a pretty big radius. Truth be told, this move is a bit over-powered as I’ve obliterated entire bosses with it. It’s absolutely insane.
But, where there are pros, there are also cons. As fun as it is to control all three of these forms, fighting grounded enemies is simple enough. The fact that the game doesn’t have a fully developed lock-on button makes air combat a struggle. Sure, Lunar mode has her zip right to her enemies, but that doesn’t necessarily do the amount of damage as it should, and not using it risks you missing your kick. Regardless, if you whiff it, you have to rotate the camera until you’ve found the target and try again. It’s not horrible, but it’s definitely a pain and just comes across as annoying for the most part.
Once again harking back to the first game, all of Kat’s abilities can be improved by gathering the gems throughout the city. Upgrading these abilities not only makes them stronger, but also have (positive) side effects. For instance, upgrading her fighting Skill enough causes her stagger in Jupiter mode to become nonexistent, while upgrading the stasis field will let you hold on to more items as once. Lunar’s and Jupiter’s properties when using it become even more powerful. Unfortunately, you can’t farm to get maximum HP right out the gate as that’s secluded for the amount of missions you do. If going up and down buildings and down entire islands aren’t your thing, then you can always mine them. Outside of side-missions to do, there are also mine expeditions to go on as well. There’s generally no mission on these expeditions outside of you going at it, gathering as many gems as you want, and then getting out. Some are just a boss fight, but that’s about it.
When mining, you might also come across some talismans, which boost Kat’s powers even further. You can equip up to three at once: one for the Lunar form, your normal form, and the Jupiter slot. Don’t worry though as the equipped gems work across all forms, although some might have specific properties that only work in a certain form. Each talisman can have up to three properties, meaning you have buff Kat in nine different ways or have one super buffed stat (unless it says the property can’t be buffed of course). You can recycle five at once and get a new one in return. It’s possible to combine two of the same types and have their properties combine to make a new one. If you have two of the exact same talisman, you can also morph it into a different type of talisman, but it will maintain the the exact same properties.
There’s a lot more to do in terms of content in compared to the first game. The trial missions are as hard as ever, but there’s more to it than that, given that the game now has online features too, with online being absolutely seamless. On top of doing time trials from the game, you can also challenge other player’s times as well. That’s not just what the online is for either as the pictures you take can be sent online for people people to see and rate. If rated positively, you’ll be given “Dusty Tokens,” which can be used to unlock rare talismans along with costumes. There’s also hidden treasure throughout the world, which you can take a picture of to trigger a treasure hunt for others to find in their copies of the game. There are also hidden art pieces to look for, which will reveal a small piece of the game’s lore when taken a picture of.
When it comes down to it, the game has so many highs, and yet very little lows. If this is truly the last game as it’s marketed to be, then it’s a shame that there won’t be a Gravity Rush with a fleshed out story and perfected combat. At the same time, with this one, there’s so much packed in it, if another were to be announced, it would be a long ways away. A game like this is incredibly special and only comes along every so often. Gravity Rush is easily one of the Vita’s best games, and Gravity Rush 2 is easily one of the best video games ever made.
+Going through the sky feels perfect