Gravity Rush 2 PS4
Keiichiro Toyama’s vivid city has never looked better
The unceremonious exit of Hekseville’s nefarious, power-hungry mayor at the conclusion of the first Gravity Rush appears to have done wonders for the oncebesieged town. The cloud city’s dreamlike layout, a chaotic jumble of architectural styles from European townhouses and Mexican favelas to Edwardian fronted mansions and cramped skyscrapers, is familiar. But even in the PlayStation 4 remaster of the Vita original, it never looked quite so bright, textured and vivid as now. Hekseville’s town square, for example, is freshly painted in a riot of colour with pea-green palm trees, vivid sun umbrellas and cheery jugglers. We’re a long way from Shibuya here (not to mention the foggy environs of creative director Keiichiro Toyama’s Silent Hill series), but there’s something of Jet Set Radio about the newly rendered place. It’s arresting. Not that protagonist Kat appears to have benefited much from the overhaul – at least in housing terms. She still lives in a squalid nest, housed within a rusty drainage pipe, deep below the city. At least now it can be can be customised and upgraded with collectible furniture.
Kat’s clutch of abilities, gifted to her by a stray cat in the first game, remain intact. Chief among these is the ability to ease and tauten the Earth’s gravitational pull at will, using this to blast herself from sidewalk to tree branch, from rooftop to steeple, along tumbling airborne lines. As in the first game, manoeuvring Kat with precision as she topples through the air while carving clouds and skimming buildings takes a little practice. At times you may curse the cat for not simply giving her the more straightforward ability to fly. But the gravity shtick clicks into a more logical place when you fight your first enemy
and, with a wave of the hand, gather up a tornado lumpy with pieces of stone and any nearby debris not pinned down (those colourful umbrellas make for capable spears). Once summoned, it can be sent whipping toward targeted foes. The engine shows off its power in these moments: once it’s hit its target, the hurricane stills and every piece of hurdled debris clatters to the ground.
It’s just the first of Kat’s upgraded set of attacks. She’s also able to lift into the air and aim a dashing kick at enemies, a move that can be followed up with a meter-draining spin attack to drill through crowds of aggressors.
You’re here to learn more about Kat’s origins, and most of the cast of the original game make a return. But there’s plenty of room in the sky for fresh faces. Kali is an angel of light able to use crystal magic to regenerate health instantly while her counterpoint, Durga, is an angel of darkness. With the mayor gone there’s a spot for a new antagonist too. Two, in fact: a pair of cyborg twins known as the Delta Team Rebels. The expanded cast is accompanied by a clutch of fresh ideas. A new mining mode allows you to hunt precious gems and talisman stones, which provide a range of buffs that can be installed to upgrade Kat’s abilities, increasing the damage dealt by kicks, for example, boosting attack power or health, or increasing the likelihood you’ll find gemstones.
These mining sites, known as trenches, appear separate from the rest of the city (and the core storyline), instead presenting a sort of optional dungeon. In these forsaken places there’s none of Gravity Rush 2’ s newfound vibrancy; they are murky netherregions, riddled with enemies and studded with gravity orbs, objects onto which you can lock and fling yourself toward at speed. Mining areas scale in difficulty and, as in the
Dark Souls games, there’s an asynchronous aspect as you happen upon items left behind by other players who died while inside the trench. In this way, each player’s failure contributes to the potential success of those who come later.
Gravity Rush 2 blends genres with elegance. MMOG-esque gestures to allow you to gently interact with NPCs in the game – sending a friendly greeting wave, or sitting down crosslegged on the floor next to them – have been added. More substantial story interactions are told in comic-book panels, many of which are lightly animated, which flit past in an inordinately stylish manner with a stab of the button. The camera issues that dogged the first game, meanwhile, appear to have been solved, with neither a sense of nausea nor disorientation after extended play. It adds up to a hefty upgrade of an idea that begged expansion, a welcome return to these underappreciated skies.
The hurricane stills and every piece of hurdled debris clatters to the ground
A snappy tutorial guides you through the basics of controlling Kat as she flings through the air, allowing you to choose between a simple and a tougher route through the city
ABOVE Kat’s feline friend, the one that granted her gravitybending abilities in the first game, accompanies her throughout the sequel
TOP LEFT Hekseville’s multicoloured, multicultural aesthetic is backed up by an equally diverse soundtrack from Kohei Tanaka, featuring live instrumentation and worldwide influences.
ABOVE Not all of the world is destructible, but enough of it can be affected by Kat’s gravity-shaking activities to drastically increase the sense of immersion
GravityRush2 presents one of the most alluring and far-reaching cityscapes yet envisioned on Sony’s hardware, a tourist’s delight from any angle
It’s unclear what role the twin angels of light and darkness will play in Kat’s story, but director Keiichiro Toyama insists that it’s a crucial one