Gravity Rush 2 Review – Out Of The Bag

Aaah, what a rush.

Developer: SIE Japan Studio, Project Siren
Publisher: Sony
Format: PS4
Released: January 20, 2017
Copy provided by publisher

My opinion of Gravity Rush improved with the move from PS Vita to PlayStation 4, Gravity Rush Remastered feeling so much more at home with a full controller as opposed to a handheld’s less comfortable input. It only makes sense that Gravity Rush 2 skipped the dying husk of the Vita altogether and has released solely as a home console title.

Kat the Gravity Shifter is back in a brand new world, having been taken from Hekseville by a gravity storm. Now stuck working for miners who scour gravitational tempests in search of valuable ore, Kat hopes to reunite with her friends while foiling the machinations of corrupt merchants, classist oppressors, and the ever-malignant creatures known as Nevi – or Scarabs, as the citizens of Banga Village call them.

Gravity Rush 2 tells a socially conscious story with curiously relevant themes. Much of the adventure is given over to Kat’s establishment as hero of the downtrodden after learning that her new home’s criminal element is almost entirely comprised of starving families skimming supplies from the disaffected wealthy.

Despite its colorful presentation and humorous tone, Gravity Rush 2 lays it on surprisingly thick to the point where I have to admit I’m quite impressed. It’s not as if the writing’s ever deep enough to go into serious sociopolitical dissection, but it’s more aware and outspoken than most politically terrified videogames.

Kat herself remains an adorable presence, one of the most lovable protagonists to emerge in recent years. Her optimism is infectious and I’m never not charmed by how emphatic she can be in her sincerity.

Gravity Rush 2 doesn’t do too much to shake up the formula, with Kat manipulating Gravity to “fall” in any direction she desires. By shifting gravity’s effect on her body, she can fly wherever she pleases, walk upside-down on surfaces, and float around to her heart’s content.

Kat’s basic array of gravity powers are unchanged from the original game, so returning players will have no trouble using Kat to float, glide and slide around Banga and its associated locales. Nevi – alongside some fresh antagonists – are once again able to be combated with basic punches and kicks, though charging into them with gravity-shifted momentum is far more effective.

The classic Gravity Kick seems less able to deal with the dodging, weaving enemies that harass her in greater numbers this time around. It’s not like physical attacks were ever particularly accurate in their targeting, but some fights make “shooting” at the opposition with precision stasis blasts practically essential.

Sucking up surrounding debris and then pelting it at foes is not only quick, it’s perhaps the most deadly trick available.

Rather than alter the basics, Sony has opted to pile more features on, adding two brand new “styles” of shifting available during the course of the campaign. Lunar style lightens Kat’s body, allowing her to perform massive leaps and warp toward enemies at the cost of movement control and offensive power.

Jupiter style is essentially the flipside of the coin, making Kat a weighty but slow hero who can smash barricades with ease and land brutal area-of-effect attacks by slamming into the ground.

These styles are interesting new takes on the general formula, and while they have their highly specialized uses I can’t say I found them all that enjoyable to use compared to the vanilla style. While Lunar’s floatiness can be amusing and Jupiter makes short work of grounded foes, the balanced playstyle of Kat’s original powers almost always gets a job done best.

That said, switching between styles takes a quick swipe of the touchpad, so it certainly doesn’t hurt to have them in reserve.

Since it follows Gravity Rush‘s blueprint so closely, any complaints one might have had about the original game can be leveled at its sequel in totality. Unfortunately nothing’s been done to really improve the fundamental gameplay between installments. This means that certain fights are still infuriating as Kat’s unwieldy attacks fail to land, and the overall premise of gravity shifting remains wasted on fairly mundane mission objectives.

Quests are relatively formulaic and side missions in particular can grow repetitive before too long. For a series about commanding gravity itself, Gravity Rush is still a series about inconsequential racing, memory games, and triangulation exercises. There’s just not much imagination or variety in the missions available, which is extra disappointing when you consider just how much potential Kat’s abilities have.

True to theme, Gravity Rush 2 works to counter these problems by adding much more. Several battles are refreshingly large in scale as Kat faces off against militant aggressors who bring guns and mechs to the table. These fights are where Gravity Rush 2 shines, bringing a sense of scale and action that suit the nature of our protagonist’s powers.

Scale is certainly where this sequel succeeds. It takes a while to appreciate how large Banga is due to its reliance on verticality. Rather than map everything out across an ostensibly even field, the regions of Kat’s new homeworld are tiered, with players needing to fly up or down to reach new locations boasting their own distinct atmospheres. Naturally, the richest and nicest islands are found way at the top, with the dour slums found by falling right to the pits.

The first time I realized that entire new landmasses could be found floating above and below the starting area was a revelation. Whatever problems Gravity Rush 2 may have, map design isn’t one of them. Locations are large but not wasteful with the space used, while landmarks are clear enough to keep the average player from getting lost.

Effort’s been taken to make the world seem more alive this time around, with increased NPC activity, destructible environments, and a vibrancy to the color palette. Despite efforts, Gravity Rush 2 still feels blatantly artificial – the way the world operates is often jarringly mechanical, as if nothing surrounding Kat has any meaning or consequence.

I appreciate Sony tried, however, and the improvements are unquestionably there.

It seems cameras are becoming an obligatory part of videogames these days, and Rush 2 is all about seizing the moment. Kat gets to unlock all sorts of costumes and props to liven up her photography, alongside emotes and filters. Many of the missions are designed to push the camera gimmick heavily, with Kat not only needing to take photos regularly but also use existing pictures to locate people and objects.

Additionally, shots can be uploaded online and subsequently found by other players in their own games. Should a picture be reviewed positively, the photographer will earn Dusty Tokens which unlock all manner of cool gear at certain milestones.

Online interactions are minimal but nicely presented, with players not only able to review each other’s snaps, but provide visual hints to the location of rare loot. At any time a player may receive a photo from a random player revealing where a treasure chest is. Should the player act upon the hint, they’ll be moved to the rough vicinity of the chest and will need to use the random player’s pic as their only clue.

It’s an intriguing spin on an old puzzle since the effectiveness of the clue is heavily reliant on how well some totally unknown player captures the area. While I found myself ignoring photo notifications more frequently the longer I played, it was a lot of fun in the first few hours, and the rewards can be worth it.

As far as content volume goes, Gravity Rush 2 is going to leave nobody starving. Aside from a campaign that’ll take at least a few hours to get through, there’s an almost overwhelming number of side missions and a whole range of gravity storms that Kat can keep visiting for ore and ability-enhancing talismans. Talismans themselves can be combined and scrapped and customized, and Kat can also spend ore to enhance a number of her innate powers.

There’s enough here to keep players going for a damn long time, though again I found myself less inclined to seek further interaction the closer I got to finishing.

Gravity Rush is a series that continues to frustrate me since I can’t love it half as much as I want to. It’s entertaining, endearing, and carries with it a genuine heart that I can’t help admiring, but it languishes in some hefty mechanical problems and despite offering so much content, a lot of it trends toward complacent filler.

Gravity Rush 2 is a bigger sequel, but not necessarily a better one. While it offers more to play with and in greater variety, the lack of improvements to core features – as well as graphics that are far from impressive – hold it back from being something truly great.

I’d still heartily recommend it despite the criticisms I’ve raised. There’s something unassumingly likable about it, reminiscent of Sega’s wackier years when they’d make any weird thing and toss it on the Dreamcast.

Even if it wasn’t a good game at its core – which it is – it’d at least get some credit for the soundtrack. I realize this is an odd note to end a review on, but I couldn’t find a natural fit for it in the rest of the text and just had to make a note of how great these bloody tunes are!

7.5/10
Good

GrimmyReaper
Guest
GrimmyReaper

Am playing through it and am liking it so far (played the Vita version of Gravity Rush 1) but I’m gonna say it. It feels lazy. The Vita game had some flaws like the side missions, the camera, the slow story and combat being a bit simple. Other than the different fighting forms, they unfortunately haven’t fixed the rest, by biggest complain is the camera. All they did was port the engine from the first game on Vita to the PS4, slide the graphics settings up and build the game in that. As a result, it strangely feels like an… Read more »

Big Jenna Talia
Guest
Big Jenna Talia

Wonderful review as always. It really echoes my sentiments towards the game. I love it, it’s endearing… but there is so much creative potential to be unlocked with Kat’s powers. It’s like feeling like you are going to sneeze, and then that let down when you don’t. I mean the damn woman can change gravity! Why not use that to develop some insane missions, not ones where I deliver newspapers?! The photography aspect is my favorite, and just like FFXV i’m craving more games to add an in game photo mechanic. All games need it! Anyways, lovely review! Thank you

Nivmarx
Guest
Nivmarx

One of my friends keeps trying to convince me to play the first one. Maybe I’ll give it a shot someday, but I currently have enough to do.

Aargut
Guest

Great review Jim, I’m gonna go play the first one and then I’ll play this. Cheers.

Andrew Barloq
Guest
Andrew Barloq

Been waiting for this game for ages now. Played the demo the other day and it is about what I expected that it would be – more of the same, but with some new features. Not that that’s a real complaint, because I loved the original. I just hope that the game does well enough to warrant continuing the series. 🙂

Jose
Guest
Jose

Good review Jim. It makes me wish I can get to play it. I hate having to wait a week to buy said game.

Thragato
Guest
Thragato

Wait, wait wait… so a game had a review embargo end over a week before released and the game was pretty good… I’m looking at you pretty much every game company ever.

Side note: Gravity Rush remastered was a ton of fun, so I’m looking forward to this title.

Neo Genesis
Guest
Neo Genesis

I loved Gravity Rush on Vita, so I’ll certainly be adding this to my PS4 library. I’m just hoping that some of the questions from the first game are answered here. It was the world itself that I found so fascinating, and I want to learn more!

Casepb
Guest
Casepb

Comparing the sequel to the original the graphics are a nice leap to me. Hell I’d say it looks better than some other PS4 exclusives… *cough Last Guardian. But to each their own.

Otaku World Order
Guest
Otaku World Order

Considering that the original Gravity Rush was what got me to buy a Vita in the first place, I am so glad this franchise has been saved from oblivion.

adampoole
Guest
adampoole

i played demo and the only thing that seemed good was the cel shaded art.. the controls were garbage with the direction of which you “fall” changing depending on what the demo felt like… sometimes you’d move the analog stick up to move her up as you fell, sometimes moving it up would make you move downward… it was never consistent.. was just a bug in the demo?

Oxycominum
Guest
Oxycominum

I am actually relieved it didn’t change much up, because I beat the first game in two days, playing 6 hours each and it was one of the most satisfying experiences I have ever had. My hopes are very high right about now.

Alex Olinkiewicz
Guest
Alex Olinkiewicz

Not reading the review, just checking if the game is good or not, it is good so really looking forward to it.

The less I know about the game, the better my first experience with it, will be.

Allan Weallans
Guest
Allan Weallans

I only just got into the first one last night (partly because I knew the sequel was coming), and I was pleasantly surprised, though I haven’t got far enough in for the repetition to kick in (but I can definitely see it coming).

I guess I’ll play more of that before making a decision about this one. It sounds like how well I get on with the first one will be a good predictor, anyway.

Polishfury5000
Guest
Polishfury5000

Your point about this being reminiscent of the weird Dreamcast era games has piqued my interest. I miss that era where devs would just throw whatever manifested from their fever dreams at a wall and see what sticks.

So thanks, I’ll be keeping my eye out for when the original Gravity Rush hits a sale.

MJC
Guest
MJC

“Since it follows Gravity Rush‘s blueprint so closely, any complaints one might have had about the original game can be leveled at its sequel in totality.” So… If I thought the first game was an utter piece of repetitive trash with terrible combat I never wanted to play again, I should skip Gravity Rush 2. Improvements to minor things don’t matter if the core gameplay loop is still awful. And I’ve had my fill of Gravity Rush’s piss poor gameplay loop for a lifetime. One can only stomach so much “gravity kick is the only viable option, now use that… Read more »

Alex Blackmore
Guest
Alex Blackmore

Gravity Rush Remastered is probably in my top 5 games on the PS4, so more of the same is absolutely fine by me.

Kiririn51
Guest

“There’s enough here to keep players going for a damn long time, though again I found myself less inclined to seek further interaction the closer I got to finishing.”

I thought the exact same about the first game. I deeply love the setting, characters and all that but it really needs some variety on missions to keep things fresh. Everything feels like a chore once you’re close to the end.

MehmetKrljic .
Guest
MehmetKrljic .

I have the exact same attitude towards Gravity Rush – it’s a game that is so easy to love yet not that easy to recommend. The world, the protagonists, the language they use, all of it is wonderful, the mechanics are interesting and expressive, but most missions in the first game (and I played through it twice – both Vita and PS4) are weirdly uninspired and the open world is constrained and strangely lifeless… It makes me happy to see that there is some evolution in the sequel – although apparently not exactly where it’d matter the most – so… Read more »

Rando
Guest
Rando

Am I the only one who hates the camera “feature” in games? It put me right off Dark Chronicle and Dead Rising.

ENAY
Guest
ENAY

I got the first free on Vita on PS+
Couldn’t get into it, but forced myself to play it years later and was hooked. So I will certainly be getting this.

This Guy
Guest
This Guy

Yet another reason to opt for the ps4 at some point. Also, first!