Gravity Rush 2
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