Grav­ity Rush 2

PS4

EDGE - - GAMES - De­vel­oper SCE Ja­pan Stu­dio Pub­lisher SIE For­mat PS4 Ori­gin Ja­pan Re­lease 2016

De­fy­ing grav­ity may be fash­ion­able in games at the mo­ment, but none treat at­trac­tive forces with so lit­tle re­gard as Grav­ity Rush, in which pro­tag­o­nist Kat can change the way she falls at will. And its fol­low-up looks set to build on the Vita game’s ap­peal­ing com­bi­na­tion of charis­matic steam­punk set­ting and fo­cused plum­met­ing with a brand-new en­gine and the full force of PS4’s ar­chi­tec­ture.

A di­rect se­quel, Grav­ity Rush 2 nonethe­less aban­dons what its cre­ators de­scribe as a “sub­dued, dark, Euro­pean at­mos­phere” for some­thing al­to­gether brighter. In­spired by Franco-Bel­gian ban­des dess­inées comics, the game uses an ex­panded pal­ette that re­places its fore­bear’s sepia tones with deep, Sega-blue skies and vi­brant bunting. It looks stun­ning, and we can’t help but be re­minded of Dream­cast RPG Skies Of Ar­ca­dia as we come in to dock, on a fly­ing barge, at the float­ing town – and new set­ting – Jirga Para Lhao.

On step­ping off the boat, Grav­ity Rush 2’ s new lease of life is im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous as we ex­plore a bustling mar­ket­place set out with para­sol-cov­ered stalls, some of that afore­men­tioned bunting, and a throng of peo­ple go­ing about their daily lives. It’s a busy, pic­turesque scene, which makes it the per­fect place to try out Kat’s bol­stered grab move, which now draws peo­ple and fur­ni­ture around us into a night­mar­ish, al­beit hi­lar­i­ous, tor­nado from which we can toss de­bris and bod­ies hun­dreds of feet. The fur­ni­ture splin­ters and shat­ters, but the in­no­cent by­standers who get caught up in our fun mer­ci­fully don’t.

De­spite our an­ti­so­cial be­hav­iour, we’re still able to buy a ke­bab from one of the stalls, but our snack is promptly stolen by a seag­ull. A fit­ting karmic re­venge, per­haps, but also the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to try out Kat’s new grav­ity pow­ers. As in the first game, you tap R1 to un­tether your­self from the ground, en­ter­ing a float­ing state from which you can aim your­self be­fore tap­ping the shoul­der but­ton a sec­ond time to fall in that di­rec­tion. It feels as weird, re­spon­sive and fresh as it did the first time, but there are now two vari­ants avail­able – Lu­nar and Jupiter – ac­cessed by swip­ing up or down on the touch­pad. Lu­nar grav­ity makes it eas­ier to move around, and hang­ing in the air – along with some other ba­sic ac­tions – won’t re­duce your grav­ity gauge at all. This all comes at the cost of re­duced at­tack power, but this trade-off is sweet­ened by the trans­for­ma­tion of Kat’s re­turn­ing grav­ity kick into a worm­hole kick, which tele­ports you straight to en­e­mies (and can also be used to reach ar­eas quickly). Jupiter grav­ity, mean­while, does much the opposite, lum­ber­ing you with a more rapidly de­plet­ing grav­ity gauge and less range, but adding sig­nif­i­cant heft to all of your at­tacks. The most strik­ing ex­am­ple of this is Grav­ity Surge, with which you can thun­der into the ground and send out a shock­wave that dam­ages ev­ery­thing around you.

These three forms of grav­i­ta­tional ma­nip­u­la­tion have al­lowed Ja­pan Stu­dio to sub­stan­tially in­crease the ac­tions avail­able to Kat dur­ing com­bat with­out over­com­pli­cat­ing the game’s ac­ces­si­ble con­trol scheme in the process. And com­bat is leant fur­ther depth by a much larger cast of en­e­mies which, along with the fa­mil­iar Nevi, now in­cludes hu­man op­po­nents, too.

It’s a promis­ing first show­ing that both in­creases the scope of the first game while also ad­dress­ing some of its short­com­ings. Ja­pan Stu­dio is work­ing hard to pol­ish what al­ready feels like an ac­com­plished ac­tion ad­ven­ture, and even at this stage it looks like all of the pieces are fall­ing into place.

An ex­panded pal­ette re­places its fore­bear’s sepia tones with deep, Sega-blue skies

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