Gravity Rush remains one of the best original titles for the PS Vita. It sits in that category with Tearaway, another Sony exclusive on the PS Vita.
Both Tearaway and Gravity Rush made the jump from the PS Vita to the PlayStation 4, too. The PS Vita, regardless of how good of a gaming handheld it is, doesn’t have much of a playerbase.
With Gravity Rush 2, Sony cut the PS Vita out of the mix entirely. SIE Japan Studio developed this title for the PS4. That puts PS Vita owners out in the cold, but it guarantees Sony a much larger audience for the adventure.
I loved Gravity Rush on the PS Vita. It felt like an enormous game on a small handheld. The remaster on the PS4 worked well, too. They pretty much moved the game to a bigger screen without bungling what made it fun.
How is Gravity Rush 2?
Strong gravity gameplay meets simple combat
The hook of the original Gravity Rush returns in the sequel. Kat is what’s called a Shifter, and she can control gravity to fly. Her flight is falling, and when she lands on a surface she can, say, walk upside down.
With the original game, Kat’s Gravity shifting powers drained her energy bar quickly. You had to upgrade it a lot to fly for a long period of time. Here, the bar drains at the same rate. You’ll only need to upgrade how much certain moves drain it.
The result is a smoother form of flight that’s less obnoxious to manage. Shifting in Gravity Rush 2 is pure pleasure, and that’s great since you’ll be doing it constantly.
That flight is lots of fun, though it’s marred by mediocre combat. You’ll mash Square a lot in this game, whether it’s lining up a gravity kick or pounding a cluster of enemies. Around 10-15 hours, you’ll have unlocked more of Kat’s potential through upgrades and unique powers. This does make combat a bit more diverse, but it still feels straightforward and simple.
It’s especially frustrating when Kat feels imprecise, as is often the case. You’ll miss attacks as you fly about, and that really makes some battle sequences drag on too long.
I suppose if you take Gravity Rush as a sort of open world game, the simple combat is excusable. I think Japan Studios can do better, though. The repetitive combat is one part of what keeps Gravity Rush 2 grounded.
In motion and paired with Kat’s shifting abilities? Things get better. That especially goes for the slide. That’s returned from the original, and it’s used in combat, specific missions and even races. The slide coupled with fighting is a lot of fun. Kat’s fast and agile, and she sometimes pairs with Raven (a side character) in these huge, open fights. That’s when the two mechanics are at their best in my mind.
Kat does have a special attack that varies based on which Gravity mode she uses. Her normal mode? This is a side note, but I found it extremely frustrating. You’ll hold Triangle once your meter is charged to activate your special. It sends you flying around the open area to defeat enemies. It’s auto-locking, and you can’t steer the attack. It’s great for clearing out huge spaces. Until it isn’t. See, I found myself finally earning the special and getting caught on objects. I’d get stuck behind a pole or on a fence, wasting my special, unable to steer.
It’s such a small thing, yet so indicative of awkward design. I think the first time that happened was when Gravity Rush 2 started to thin and show its cracks. It’s still a fun game, but it’s ultimately flawed.
The main storyline is compelling, Kat is awesome
Kat and her cohorts are great to be around. The way Gravity Rush 2 looks, the way it sounds and the narrative it tells are perhaps the best parts of this game.
The title loses points for relying on the comic book style that feels far too budget for the big screen. There aren’t really cutscenes, as it were. You’re told the story through comic panels that tilt as you move the DualShock 4. I have nothing against comics, but it makes this otherwise grand experience feel restrained.
On the plus side, having the same storytelling style makes side quests seem as large as the main thing. Those “stories” are told through the same panels, so there’s some nice parity there.
The story itself is strong with themes of authority gone bankrupt, but Kat’s the star. Kat, Raven, Syd and a few new faces round out a cast I really, really enjoyed. I liked Kat a bit more in the Overture anime (which you should watch!), but she still stands as an overwhelmingly positive force.
And that’s especially good when you rely on her to get through some seriously infuriating side quests.
Side quests are varied, but they get annoying
The main story missions are mostly solid, but they fall victim to odd design choices. The side quests? Kudos to Japan Studios for making them diverse. They vary. That’s a plus.
My goodness are they frustrating.
You have the power of flight in this game. Remember that? Far too many main story missions and side quests restrict flight and keep Kat on the ground. They force stealth down your throat, and it rarely works well.
Then there are the missions that task you with finding a small object based on a small picture. You walk up to people, spamming Square hoping that one of them will have a hint for you. That narrows your search area down, but you’re still needlessly hunting for a needle in an open world haystack.
Maybe you need to platform from point A to B for a narrative driven reason. That’s all well and good, but Kat’s imprecision forces you to fail 15 times before you can move on. A side quest that should have taken 10 minutes winds up taking 40 thanks to some dicey choices.
When you toss in online interactions, things get better. You’ll find photos and treasure hunts around the open world. Strangers take pictures of a treasure box to give you a clue about its whereabouts, for instance. You’ll need to use their clue to hunt down the box. Sounds simple, but it’s a lot of fun.
There’s a wealth of content here thanks to the side quests, missions and online stuff. If you’re looking at Gravity Rush 2 as it relates to value, you won’t go wrong.
It’s a good, albeit problematic game, too. I think I have less patience for games that waste my time with silly side quest padding, and that’s why I didn’t feel serviced by those options. You might, though, and there’s so flippin’ much to do.
It’s a strong buy if you don’t mind the flaws. You’ll adore the look, the charming characters and the wonderful music.
If only the combat were better, more dynamic and more precise, I would have loved this game instead of simply liked it.
Disclaimer: We received a code to download and review Gravity Rush 2 from Sony.