Gravity Rush 2 Review – Falling Triumphantly Skyward

The original Gravity Rush was a hidden gem stuck on a doomed handheld. Fans of the game were skeptical that it would ever receive a sequel, especially with so many unanswered questions. Thankfully, fortune was smiling down upon them and in 2015 the announcement for the sequel on the PS4 rejuvenated the series from fading into obscurity. Two years later, the game finally released and what we got was a worthy successor to an underrated title.

Gravity Rush 2
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer:SIE Japan Studio, Project Siren
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: January 20th, 2017
Players: 1
Price: $39.99 (Review Copy Purchased)

This is a review coupled with a supplemental video review. You can watch the video review above, or read the full review of the game below.

Gravity Rush 2 is one of the most gorgeous titles that has come out this year.  In an industry of making games look photo realistic, Gravity Rush 2 instead opts for a strong, colorful aesthetic that makes it stand out from much of the competition. The use of color in its environment design is masterful, making each unique zone have a distinct color palette in order for it to stand out as well as convey its tone. The game goes to make everything cell shaded, which helps to make the colors stand out even more to ultimately create a fantastic and distinct looking game.

The environments themselves are absolutely enormous, with both hub worlds feeling like actual cities and not just simply a collection of buildings. The new city in the game, Jirga Para Lhao, has a great sense of verticality to it. This not only helps give it a sense of identity, but also gives us insight on how the city functions.

Story moments, like in the previous entry, are presented through comic book styled panels with a sprinkling of in-game cutscenes. While some people might be turned off by this style of storytelling, it works great in this context since both the character portraits and the panels themselves are beautifully drawn and do a great job at accurately conveying the appropriate mood of each story beat. They also don’t use them all the time, as they wisely use the in-game cutscenes whenever an action set piece occurs in order to keep those scenes from losing their impact.

It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows in the graphics department, however, as Gravity Rush 2 suffers from some of the most egregious pop ins I’ve seen. Moving from zone to zone can result in textures not loading properly, which results in low quality texture work everywhere to upwards of 10 seconds. While it’s only really noticeable within the first city of the game, it does heavily hinder what is otherwise a fantastic presentation.

Gravity Rush 2 is the one game I’ve had the most enjoyment in simply traveling from place to place. Using your gravity powers to “fly” around Jirga Para Lhao was one of the most relaxing experiences I’ve had this year so far. Thanks to improved controls, this is the one game where I try to use the quick travel mechanic as little as possible. Instead, I like to bask myself in the beautiful vistas the game presents me.

Combat is by far the most improved element from the first game, with more variety and better balancing. Dive Kicking got considerably nerfed, making it not nearly as viable and universal as it was in Gravity Rush. The trade-off here is that ground combat and projectile attacks are much more useful. The Stasis Field received the biggest improvement, making it so that you can instantaneously pick up items to use as projectiles. In some instances the Stasis Field can be seen as overpowered, but they balanced it so that dispatching enemies with the Stasis Field projectiles does not add to your special meter, which allows you to use special moves.

The biggest difference to combat is the addition to Gravity styles. On top of your regular style, there are the new Lunar Style and Jupiter Style. Lunar style has an emphasis on lightweight and floaty movement with fast paced and evasive combat, while Jupiter style focuses on slow but powerful attacks and faster speeds while shifting gravity. The new styles add way more variety to combat, as you’ll find yourself switching between them quite frequently in order to match the current situation. All of the gravity styles can be further upgraded with Jewels, either improving the gravity meter cost, adding additional properties or simply making them more powerful.

The upgrade system is complimented with a brand new talisman system, which allows you to equip various gems in order to upgrade your gravity styles. While not unappreciated, the gem system is a little too simplistic and barebones, and you’ll most likely not be fooling around with it much.

Gravity Rush 2 boasts a ton of side quests to distract the player from the main story. While I enjoyed all the little stories they had to tell, I felt that they were quite uneven in terms of their rewards. Some of them had some pretty meaningful rewards like exclusive talismans, health and gravity bar upgrades, and even some new costumes. This is something that the previous game gave of a taste of but never fully explored. Half of the side quests I completed, however, had pretty superfluous rewards in the form of prop items that you can use in photo mode. Most of these items are pretty unremarkable and the fact that they’re even rewards to begin with feels like a copout. That being said I still enjoyed them quite, I just wish they had more worthwhile payoffs.

Time trials also make a return from the previous game, only this time with a few more activities thrown into the mix to add more variety. Unlike side quests, time trials always have a good payoff, rewarding the player with gems the better they do so you can further upgrade your powers.

With refined combat and a slew of activities to do, gameplay is only marred down a pretty unwieldy camera at times. It generally works when the player is in wide open areas, but there are moments where the game places you in more confined spaces, and this is when the camera becomes an issue. You’ll find yourself fighting to keep control of the camera and reorienting yourself constantly. One chapter in particular suffers from some pretty unstable camera control, making it much more frustrating than it was fun. This is compounded by the fact that the chapter in question was when you first get the Jupiter Gravity style, making what should have been a triumphant moment into a frustrating chore.

If you like jazz, you will absolutely adore this soundtrack. This is the kind of soundtrack that you might constantly want to be playing in the real world, it’s simply that good. From the high tempo and lively nightlife theme of Plajeune to the slower paced and sophistication of Lei Havina, this soundtrack boasts an impressive variety of jazz music. There’s also have more traditional orchestral tracks for action set pieces and boss fights, which are also excellent. There was no point in which I ever get tired of any of the songs, and this is an exemplary soundtrack in a year full of great soundtracks.

Like the previous entry, voice acting is spoken through a made up language which sounds like a mix of French and Japanese, which is very nice on the ears. My only real complaint is that there isn’t a whole lot of it, as most of the story isn’t told through dialogue but text bubbles, so I never get a full feel for this language that I wanted to hear more of.

Gravity Rush 2’s story feels less like one cohesive narrative and more like three separate stories loosely strung along. For starters, it begins in unfamiliar territory, with locations and characters we’ve never seen before. That’s because it takes place right after the anime special that was made before it’s launch, so watching that is somewhat required in order to not be totally lost. Luckily, it does have the decency of explaining what’s going on once the intro ends. After that though, it’s pretty smooth sailing from there, right until you reach the end of the first act.

After the act one climax, the game completely shifts gears and almost abandons the plot in said act in favor of a different, seemingly unrelated story. It’s only towards the end of the second act where the connection arises, but even then I felt it wasn’t particularly well done, feeling more rushed then anything. The third and final act actually answers a lot of the mysteries that the first game set up, albeit not in the greatest way. Without getting into spoilers, there are a lot of missed opportunities coupled with some pretty bad pacing. At the very least there aren’t any loose ends left.

Luckily, the story still ends up being entertaining simply by the fact that Kat is just such a likeable character. Pair her up with an equally likeable cast and you have a story that won’t fail to make you smile. Something about Kat’s naiveté and her willingness to help strangers makes her a character you root for from beginning to end. The fact that she also likes dressing up in various cute outfits is also a bonus.

Gravity Rush 2 is a worthy follow up to its predecessor, despite some of its most glaring issues. With a gorgeous presentation, amazing music, improved gameplay, and a great lead, if you were a fan of the first Gravity Rush and just so happen to have a PS4, do yourself a favor and pick a copy up.

Gravity Rush 2 was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a retail copy purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.

The Verdict: 8.5

The Good

  • Great presentation
  • Fantastic soundtrack
  • Improved combat
  • Kat is still best girl

The Bad

  • Textures  popping  in can get pretty egregious
  • Main story feels fragmented and poorly paced towards the end
  • Camera can be annoying to deal with in certain scenarios

FEATURED GAME

  • Just Some Guy

    *looks at calendar*
    Huh…

  • patyos

    Pretty fun mechanics in this game xD

  • monbun

    fair review :D

  • Funtime Happysnacks

    Reading this review took me back to the days of reading classic gaming mags like GamePro and EGM. Lovely game, lovely review. :)

    Will you be reviewing Raven’s DLC?

  • Mr0303

    Good review. One minor issue – you don’t need to watch the anime to get the context of the story. In fact the anime takes place in Jirga Para Lhao after Kat meets with Raven, which means that it is within the Gravity Rush 2 timespan.

    So far Gravity Rush 2 is my favourite game released this year. It oozes with style and I like everything about it – the gameplay, the characters, the story, the varied side quests and even the multiplayer features – the photo treasure hunt is awesome and non intrusive. The photo mode in general is really fun to use, especially given the optional secrets you can unlock with it.

    The new style switching helps keep the gameplay balanced since each style is better suited for a certain enemy. The statis field is much more useful now and plays a major part in combat. The bossfights are a highlight – they really force you to use all your skills properly. The side quests find many ways to utilise your abilities and reveal more about the world and the regular people living in it.

    I agree that the story was a bit fragmented, but the great characters make up for it. The highlight was the last chapter, where you get to learn Kat’s origin story. It answers a lot of questions, but it opens up the world and poses even more.

    The free Raven DLC deserves a special mention – it brilliantly gives resolution to the Lost Children plotline and features some great bossfights. I only wished that she was available as a playable character in the open world portion of the game.

    Overall Gravity Rush 2 is one of my favourite PS4 games.

  • Zanthos

    I absolutely love how you travel in this series. I haven’t played 2 yet, but I remember laughing every time I went anywhere in GR. Just the thought of hurling myself, arms and legs all wibbly wobby is ceaselessly entertaining.

  • Mr0303

    That DLC was amazing. I still can’t believe they gave it out for free.

  • BaronKrause

    Should be a 2B costume being released for Kat soon too.

  • asuka

    you joking right? it recon the first game later parts and how the hell is raven still alive?

  • asuka

    late to the party

  • Alexis Nascimento-Lajoie

    Thanks for the compliment really appreciate it.

    As for whether or not we’ll review the DLC, we typically don’t review DLC since we try to jump onto other games to review. We could change our minds on that, but as it stands don’t expect DLC reviews any time soon.

  • Mr0303

    Even if not for review purposes, just give the DLC a play – it’s really great.

  • Mr0303

    We don’t know how this paradox works in the universe. What we saw could be alternate versions of the lost children including Raven herself. She could be a living time paradox.

  • Tubsiwub

    The story is poorly paced and the “Go find X person / place” without waypoints can be infuriating, but the game is amazing. 9/10.

  • [Unoriginal Name Here]™

    Good review. I gotta say that I agree with the Camera, it can be annoying to deal with. The story however, I was pleased with it but yeah I get what you, one minute you go from doing this and the next it’s an entire different story but as you progress, the other part catches up making much more sense. My mind was blown away when you discover what Kat’s old life was. The soundtrack is fantastic too, my chest was pounding alot when I first heard the musicbox version of An Apple fell from the sky, got a little teary eyed too, knowing who sent her that box.

    This is one of my favorite games for the PS4 next to Persona 5 and Nier Automata, despite the fact that it’s also on PC. Speaking of that, I’m still waiting on that Nier 2B costume for Kat even though I beat the game and the Raven DLC, which was also fantastic.

  • Funtime Happysnacks

    Well the first game explains that shit makes no sense because it’s all some guy’s dream right? In their world there are just randomly people who can create entire dimensions to live inside, cuz why not.

  • Phasmatis75

    With a review of a highly virtue signally poorly optimized game giving it a good score none the less.

  • Phasmatis75

    By no means is this a worthy successor to a great title. The only thing enhanced was the controls for combat becoming more fluid and easier to use. Problem is combat lost it’s edge as the game was made easier to appeal to a wider demographic. Upgrade system was thus butchered into an uninspiring and trite affair.

    The story is pure marxist propaganda. You have the Bourgeoisie who go about burning fuel for lols, making their servants miserable, again for the lols, and even trying to build a theme park in an area they would never want to visit for the sole purpose of they’re just so evil. Compare that to the original which told a fantastic story of a girl trying to find her way in the world and ultimately ended saving a lot of people from a group of very corrupt individuals who came to power this games story is utter garbage.

    The mechanics of the game are not even properly connected, you can mine crystals, but why bother. You don’t need to fix things with them, you only need them for the bad upgrade system. Missions are equally lacking in any diversity with some utterly broken on harder difficulty forcing you to reduce the difficulty in order to pass them (something the original never required).

    To give this game a 8.5 out of 10 and call it worth is a joke. I’d wager you’re an SJW as they’re the only people who seem to enjoy this mess. Us fans waited years for a sequel and this is what we got. A game that sold so poorly it has effectively killed it’s franchise. Well at least we still have the original, whose story shall never be finished.

  • BaronKrause

    Thinking Way too hard about it. You’re essentially helping out some creator/god figure with debugging the code of their universe until he can get it to stop throwing errors. Just assume he made it so she still was the person she was without remembering those past events like some amnesiac who likes something without remembering why. She needed to still be that person or all the rest of the events revolving around Kat would of changed. His presence lets you hand wave away any real issues a normal time travel story would have, dont think too hard about it.

  • Lucy Taylor

    One of the most underrated series, and fair review. I liked the first one better.

    The character designs of the girls are off-putting though, but I can ignore it well enough. But it still highlights the problem that Japanese developers simply cannot stop depicting female characters as sex objects.

    If I had reviewed the game, I would’ve marked down the score by 1 just for that.

  • Lucy Taylor

    Just… why?

  • BaronKrause

    Because… Wait is that a real question?

  • Lucy Taylor

    No it isn’t.

  • asukaxrei2

    you have bad taste in gaming go back to your halo or call of duty

  • asukaxrei2

    2B outfit is just fan service why did they even let it in the game?

  • Phasmatis75

    I haven’t played COD in a decade, and the last Halo game I played was 4 and it was garbage.

    It’s also called standards. When you grow up and have to spend your own money on games you’ll understand.

  • asukaxrei2

    you sound like you live in your mom’s basement https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a092210e23d3536bc559be94cf8db880129da9b419234ac5859f77077112368d.jpg follow your own advise

  • Phasmatis75

    You sound like a typical Type B Personality disorder mental case.

  • asukaxrei2

    I thought people with autism could not use a computer.

  • Fenrir007

    Too obvious.

  • Nagato

    Christ Centered Gamer actually does include a seperate morality score to take such issues into account. It is seperate from the actual score for the game itself too, so everyone is free to decide how much value they give to each aspect.