You know how it is; you’re the gravity controlling queen of a small city, and then you lose your magic cat and end up mining gems in a diving suit.
What, just me?
When Gravity Rush 2 begins, Kat is a magical girl who has found herself without the cat-friend who lets her fly, and has turned to mining for gravity ore to make ends meet. If you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, then immediately stop reading this review and go play the first Gravity Rush, because otherwise you’ll be totally lost; this is not a newbie-friendly sequel. Alternatively you could do what I did, and Google who the hell these people are as they come up.
I don’t want to give much, or really any, of the plot away, but it’s a little all over the place. Gaps are filled in nicely by animated comic cutscenes and side missions, although again you need a lot of backstory from the first game to understand most of it. Missions do start to get a bit repetitive in design after a while, often boiling down to “fly here, do the thing, then fly there and do the other thing.” But while the basic formula is the same, it’s still hella fun. And that’s because Kat is one of the most entertaining characters I’ve ever seen in a game.
Dusty the cat is what allows Kat the human her to use her awesome powers and, while he’s more decoration than meaningful companion, I love him. He’s the reason Kat can hurl herself across the map at breakneck speed, often in positions that genuinely look like they’d break your neck. And that’s because Kat doesn’t fly; instead, she shifts gravity around herself, and essentially just falls with style.
You’d think a set of powers based solely around gravity would be minimal and boring. Well, you’d be wrong. It’s not all floating and falling; gravity sliding tilts the world so you can surf the ground, and the combat is all dodging and lunging, which is very much my kind of thing. Not only are Kat’s basic powers amazing, but there are two new styles of gravity to master as well, Lunar and Jupiter. Lunar makes you light on your feet, while Jupiter gives you more weight behind your blows. While it takes a while to master flipping between them on the fly – and in no small part because you have to use the touchpad to do this – the payoff is worth it. When you’re flouncing around enemies in Lunar before switching to Jupiter for the finishing blow, you really do feel like a Gravity Queen.
That’s not to say all the gameplay is spectacular. The forced stealth sections have been on the tips of everyone's tongues, and rightly so; they bring the steady pace of the game to a grinding halt. I failed my first because I was too cautious, and the second because Kat decided she wanted to stand on the ceiling directly above the guy I was tailing. They’re almost as bad as the stealth sections from Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, where the game somehow had to hide a goddam pirate ship in a swamp. Kat’s smaller than a brig, but the lack of actual stealth abilities makes this just as frustrating.
Level design, though, is exquisite. You spend a lot of time in the hub city, which makes fantastically creative use of vertical space, and that’s clearly where most of the hardcore design went in. One early mission had me go to a sub city below the main one, and afterwards I thought hey, I wonder if there’s another city above me? There was, and it was hella fancy. But the many missions that take you to alien landscapes full of things to kick, be they ore or Nevi (the demonic enemies you face throughout the game), have a variety of landscape that truly brings the world to life.
The visuals are, I can’t stress this enough, gorgeous. The fusion of normal graphics and and the shaded, hand drawn style remains from the first installment and, while it still reminds me of Borderlands, it’s totally different, and fits the theme of the game like a glove.
The music and sound are fantastic and, although I was initially a little put out by the decision to not have the characters speak a real language, it really reinforces the distinct otherness of the universe and it totally works. Plus it saves on localisation expenses, I assume.
Look, the game is pretty damn good. It’s got fun and varied gameplay, beautiful audio visuals, and a story that’s engaging once you know what the hell is going on. But the star of the show is the gravity queen herself, Kat. She’s freaking adorable. Her naivety and kind-heartedness shine through throughout the game, and her innocence makes you want to protect her. Her pure gracelessness as she hurls herself ass-first around the map is half of her charm; she’s not flying, and she’s not even falling with style, she’s just plain falling.
A few clipping bugs with enemies and the camera were all I encountered during my time, and as a whole Gravity Rush 2 feels very polished and complete. All the pieces fit together pretty seamlessly and, even though there are a few moments that’ll have you tearing at your hair in frustration, they’re few and far between.
Gravity Rush 2 is either on the higher end of good, or the lower end of great. Honestly, I think the distinction between the two will come down to personal choice. But safe to say that I’m all about this game and, if you’re into magical girls, mining with your feet, sprawling fantasy steampunk settings, and firing yourself across maps for hours on end, you will be too.