Gravity Rush 2 begins after Gravity Rush and immediately following the events in the two-part anime, Gravity Rush Overture, which was released at the end of 2016. The story follows our main protagonists Kat, Raven, and Syd as they find themselves trapped in a new reality where the citizens of Jirga Para Lhao are being oppressed by a totalitarian government causing a vast gap between the rich and poor. Gravity Rush 2 could have used this narrative to make some interesting and poignant commentary on issues facing society at this time. It is a shame that these themes are lightly glossed over and the overall story descends into a muddled, generic tale about our heroes trying to get back to their own dimension and save their reality from impending doom. The pacing of the game also feels off from the start, as the action doesn’t really kick off until after stage 6, and there is a particular stage near the end of the game, which involves meandering around reading lots of dialogue, that just feels like a chore. The pacing issues certainly sap some of the energy and momentum from the game, particularly when leading up to the finale.
The dialogue is generally fun with our hero Kat coming across as likeable, very bubbly and suitably heroic when the time arises. Raven is a lot more stoic in her attitude but does provide moments of deadpan comedy and Syd is generally played for laughs but can be dashing when the time arises. The script and characters often reminded me of the anime, Project A-ko, Kat and Raven even have large appetites like the female leads in Project A-ko. It is worth pointing out that any new players that have not played Gravity Rush, or watched the anime, will be completely lost as far as the plot, characters and inter-dimensional shenanigans go. This is certainly not a game that players unfamiliar with the series will be able to just pick up and play.
The game is an open world, action-adventure, with gravity defying powers. Kat’s main ability is to shift gravity and fly, or fall, around the open world. Jetting around the stages like a superhero can be both exhilarating and dizzying at the same time. As you hurtle around the dazzling open world, the camera shifts and changes leading to moments of disorientation that can be frustrating and confusing at times. However, as you play more you do become adept at working with the camera and genuinely feel like a superhero. Unfortunately, the camera does not perform well in enclosed spaces or in small tight sections of the open world. This can lead to unwanted deaths, some very awkward juttering, slow down and noticeable screen clipping. The gravitational powers are not just limited to flight; Kat can levitate objects such as benches, boxes, barrels in her stasis field and hurl them at enemies, which is very satisfying. Kat can also perform a gravity slide that propels her at breakneck speed across the ground and a gravity kick that allows her to rain down kicks from mid-air. Throughout the course of the game, there are three combat styles to; unlock each with their own skill tree to level up. The combat is fun and frantic with just the right amount of depth to avoid getting stale. The main story will take around 20 hours to complete and along with the main quest line, there is a myriad of challenges and side stories on offer that tests the player’s skills whilst fleshing out some of Jirga Para Lhao’s back story. The side missions and challenges will add another 10 to 20 hours to the overall experience. It is worth noting that there are some odd stealth missions thrown in during the main story and side missions that feel very out-of-place. The controls and overall design of the game do not support this kind of mission structure, which can lead to some tedious trial and error.
Visually, the game is very impressive. The cel-shaded anime aesthetic really provides Gravity Rush 2 with a timeless quality. This is certainly a game that could be remastered in the future in a similar way to The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. The draw distance is excellent and there is some wonderful visual storytelling as you fly from the poverty stricken lower sections of the world up to the more affluent areas higher in the sky. The developers certainly missed an opportunity to develop this aspect of the story, as the visual cues are all here. Kat is well animated and the use of physics is excellent. Stages can be ripped apart, as you levitate pieces of scenery to hurl at your enemies, leaving carnage in your wake. The cities are bustling with life, birds are flying in the sky alongside aircraft of all types and there are lots ofpeople on-screen at once all going about their daily business. These little details make the cities feel lived in and alive. All the boss characters are generally huge and there are some very interesting designs on display here. Each feels very imposing and one even resembles Tetsuo’s final state from the anime movie Akira.
A special mention has to go to the soundtrack composed by Kōhei Tanaka. Every stage has its own theme that enhances the mood and atmosphere. The starting village of Banga has a lovely piece that features panpipes and echoes sounds of the Andes Mountains giving off a feeling of being isolated and away from civilisation. The Lei Colmosna district, in the city of Jirga Para Lhao, has a jazz-inspired theme that catches the vibrancy and energy of trade in the marketplace while the plight of the poor in the House Boat district is reflected with a sombre, melancholic piano piece. Each piece of music fits perfectly with the area it is composed for and really shows off Tanaka’s skill as a composer. At times, the soundtrack has an energy and exuberance to it that is infectious—much like Kat’s personality—adding to the charm of the game.
Gravity Rush 2 is certainly an improvement over the original game. The open world is vast, beautiful, and interesting to explore, whilst providing a myriad of content to discover. The soundtrack is excellent and the combat provides enough depth to encourage experimentation. However, the muddled story, inaccessible lore for new players, pacing issues and the awkward camera do detract from the overall experience. Fans of the series should give Gravity Rush 2 a go but it is hard to recommend to new players.
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