The Gravity Queen is back to show off some awesome powers in a beautiful new city.
You wear a lot of hats in Gravity Rush 2. Kat assumes the role of a photojournalist, firefighter, private investigator, stunt double, miner, and so many more, but most of all this sequel sees her transform into an even more powerful magical gravity-defying girl and friend. New features, environments, and well-written side quests refresh and greatly improve the feeling of falling forever in Kat’s second journey, and only a few control and storyline issues weigh it down.
If you haven’t played Gravity Rush and care about the story, this is not the one to start with. The sequel picks up with little introduction, finding Kat and her friends Raven and Syd stranded in a new vibrant land called Jirga Para Lhao, and it’s boiling over with conflict. The first act is great because of the time it took to develop new characters and let me explore the city, but unfortunately the second falls a little short. It feels underdeveloped compared to the first and third, and introduces one somewhat important mystery that’s left completely unsolved. I have a feeling that the answer I want is in the side quests, since one does have you investigating some details about the mystery, but even if it is, it’s a silly way to resolve a problem that was established at the beginning of the story. The third act does resolve a majority of the questions from the second act (though in a shaky fashion) but is otherwise a satisfying ending.
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I enjoyed how Gravity Rush 2 subtly focuses on different kinds of relationships between powerful pairs of women, both in and out of battle. Raven rejoins Kat on her journey, this time as an ally, and their dynamic and dependence on each other is sweet and battles are a lot more fun with her there. Fighting alongside Raven is another good dash of variety, and even though she’s powerful it’s balanced so that the fights aren’t too easy. You have to take down a good variety of enemies (mechs, soldiers with rocket launchers, tons of familiar Nevi, and huge bosses that change as you learn other gravity styles) so learning how to best fight against them with Raven and the new gravity styles kept me interested in combat throughout the entirety of the lengthy 30 to 40-hour campaign. There are also a few other pairs of women that have different familial relationships, but carry through the same theme of working together to find strength when the world is being torn apart.
Even though Raven is powerful it’s balanced so that the fights aren’t too easy.
Each place Kat visits is full of life thanks to Gravity Rush 2’s jazzy music and bright design. The new city has such drastic changes between each of its island districts, which are separated vertically instead of like Hekseville’s more horizontal layout. As soon as I was dropped into the island city I spent at least 10 minutes exploring and collecting precious gems that power up Kat’s abilities. They’re everywhere, and hunting them is addictive. I left paths for missions every time I saw a few gems trail off in another direction and I got to explore areas I wouldn’t have otherwise. (That burning building can wait just a few more seconds.)
As I moved through the city I unlocked manholes that’d teleport me to other areas, but I hardly ever used them. Using Kat’s gravity powers to fly around is way too fun to want to fast travel. I loved visiting the high, rich islands only to dive to the market far below that grows beautifully in detail as I approached. Only a few areas had issues loading textures and objects when I dropped in from higher areas, but was otherwise a smooth experience.
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The new gravity styles Kat learns as you go greatly change how she falls. Gravity Rush 2 offers ample time to master the original style before moving on the the light and bouncy Lunar style and then the heavy and forceful Jupiter style. Flipping between the three in more challenging fights made Kate really feel like the she had reached her full potential by the end, and I felt powerful having mastered them. And because of those styles, you now have even more control over her speed and levitation than in the first Gravity Rush, so once those come into play falling becomes just as important as flying because you can use it to conserve energy and travel farther. The improvements also make fighting more interesting by offering creativity options with Kat’s movements.
Side missions provide a unique look into the lives of each city’s resident.
There’s a ton to do in the city with new challenge missions, chatting with select NPCs, and of course, side missions. I had a hard time skipping side missions. They provide a unique look into the lives of each city’s residents and offer varied assignments. Some had such a long story to tell that they were broken up into multiple parts, but the shorter one-off missions were cool too. I got to help a journalist report on an illegal trading deal and join schoolgirls in a demonic ritual. The Gravity Queen does a little bit of everything.
Kat doesn’t spend all her time in the city, though. Gravity Rush 2 takes her to a challenge area somewhat similar to the original’s Rift Planes where Kat has the opportunity to learn new skills and grab a ton of precious gems. When I went to learn my first of two new gravity styles I was thrown into a beautiful, dark area that was lit by giant ammonite candles. It looked like I was traveling in a forgotten underwater trench. These imaginative areas act as fun, helpful tutorials for the new gravity styles.
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Not all of Kat’s new tools are great, however. I dreaded the few missions that required me to use gravity sliding over a long distance. It’s a hard power to control. There were also a few unfortunately long missions in smaller spaces that made the otherwise cooperative camera a pain.
Gravity Rush 2 also sees the return of online leaderboards for the challenge missions, but my favorite new online feature is the treasure hunt. I used photos submitted online from other players, taken using a camera Kat gets early on, to find cute chests filled with all sorts of loot. It’s a cool, creative way to earn a few extra gems while exploring different parts of the city.
After a couple of story hiccups, Gravity Rush 2 righted itself and pulled me in with the personality of its world and wide variety of activities. The new gravity powers and styles make combat exciting, and well-written side quests and character relationships grant better insight into Kat’s universe. After 40 hours I found it hard to put the controller down, and I can’t wait to jump back in to finish every sidequest I can find.