Gravity Rush is an endearing, distinct game I mightn’t have ever expected to receive a sequel. The charming characters, deceptively elaborate narrative and unique action of the Vita darling live on in Gravity Rush 2, with more than a few new tricks. The scale of Kat’s new adventure exceeds the last to an unexpected extent while feeling perfectly at home on the PS4, as Gravity Rush Remastered had no problem proving. For all its positive growth, though, there are some expansions that ultimately feel more like attempted justifications for the new hardware than results of its power.
What makes Gravity Rush so special are the core mechanics: controlling gravity. Kat can’t fly, but she can change the direction she falls. Aim at a wall and shift gravity and she’ll be able to walk straight up. Shift gravity towards the sky, and she’ll fall away from the ground. It’s a mechanic that made the original so fun and unique, and it’s all the better in Gravity Rush 2. A sleek, communicative interface makes falling, sliding around, and throwing objects telekinetically easier and more comfortable than ever, while some new moves keep things fresh. Kat earns the ability to switch styles from her usual properties to Lunar and Jupiter mode, making her lighter and heavier respectively. Lunar mode lets Kat pull off some tremendous jumps and close gaps between fast enemies, while Jupiter mode offers massively impactful charge-kicks and faster falling speeds. Each style feels like its own brand of gravity-shifting gameplay, with unique throws and special moves mixing things up a little extra.
While most of the Gravity Queen’s moveset has its share of uses, nearly all of them are optional. Using Lunar styles special move to hurl streams of projectiles at hordes of smaller targets of my own volition was satisfying. Using my personal strategies and preferences is rewarding, but having to adapt and use some moves I otherwise wouldn’t turn to as often is something I missed here. Talismans act as gear to strengthen specific abilities and traits, but because there are just so many options, I found myself always choosing the most general buffs. Gravity sliding, for instance, was one of my favourite parts of Gravity Rush, but in Gravity Rush 2 it’s mostly a cool option with rare necessity.
The exception are Challenge Missions, offering specific trials to complete for Precious Gems (the game’s currency). These range from races, to defeating enemies using certain attacks within a time limit, to performing tasks from story or side missions as well as possible. Story missions, of course, make up the core of the game’s narrative-centric portions while Side Missions act to flesh out the characters and world with lower-stakes encounters and scenarios. The first game lacked side missions until its eventual DLC, but Gravity Rush 2 is overflowing with the things. Some feel a little too remedial, having Kat carry strangers from A to B and back, or talk to dozens of pedestrians until one decides to respond. Others act as important exposition between key story moments and offer clever twists on gravity shifting. If nothing else, they offer Precious Gems to put towards valuable ability upgrades. Of course, this is all on top of exploring the massive open environments of which there is certainly no shortage.
Gravity Rush 2 finds Kat and ally Syd in Banga, a mobile mining settlement/airship. After being separated from Raven – Kat’s enemy turned rival – in a mysterious gravity storm, working in the mines is their best means of survival until they can find their way home to Hekseville. The tensions of Banga and their trading relations quickly become clear, limiting residents to a harsh lifestyle of tireless work and minimal returns. The inherent complexity of the situation is established impressively quickly without delving into overwhelming specifics, as are the important characters herein. Gravity Rush 2 manages to develop a generous handful of characters to the point of engaging yet understandable depth in its opening few missions.
Impressive a feat as it is, the narrative arc laid out at the beginning of the game is but the first of many. The story outgrows some scenarios and shifts focus to others multiple times throughout, introducing new characters, settings and plot threads consistently throughout its lengthy duration. Where the original Gravity Rush fell comfortably into three distinct acts with separate focuses, each arc felt informed by the previous to resolve in a satisfyingly holistic conclusion. The sequel has equally distinct pieces but never comes together in the same way.
While characters persist throughout and their roles adapt entertainingly, the constant realignment of focus to new threats and goals creates a disjointed narrative. I found myself thinking throughout that chunks of the plot were developed enough to be entire games of their own. One segment tells a curving tale of economic disparity, while another is a sci-fi story of political intrigue. Only after concluding the final of several arcs did I realise that Gravity Rush 2 was intentionally approaching story in a different way than a video game traditionally would. It’s not trying to tell one conclusive story, but a series of more specific but equally valuable smaller stories. Less like a film, and more like a series of anime-style sagas. Every story Gravity Rush 2 has to tell is memorable and purposeful, regardless of how they relate to each other.
The visual identity of Gravity Rush is another distinguishing feature. The soft anime style builds a wonderful world to explore, while the various architecture of different economic status and real world influences builds the character of many varied environments. Important characters are all designed to reflect their personalities in notable ways, doing so much to develop who they are or where there alignment lies. There are enough awesome character designs here to fill out a considerable fighting game roster, each with analogous personalities and histories. The consistent jolliness, helpfulness and naivety of Kat make her a joy to play as. There are a bunch of other characters I’d love to play as, too, though, speaking to the quality of the design work and writing throughout. On top of the exciting and uplifting soundtrack, Gravity Rush 2 establishes a thorough and engrossing tone.
Gravity Rush 2 is a pleasant, thoughtful and fun video game. Positivity oozes from its characters, settings and overall tone, but the story never shies from dark turns. There are several stories worth being a part of here, and dozens of great characters with which to go along. Soaring through the world is still so enjoyable, while the new styles help broaden Kat’s abilities in satisfying ways. There’s so much to do in Gravity Rush 2; an extensive set of story missions, dozens of side missions, enormous worlds to explore and great stories to uncover. For such a dense game, there are so few components that don’t meet a high level of quality, and those that do are hardly noticeable amongst the rest.