I recently started playing Gravity Rush 2, and… I’m loving it! 

For me, this was a game I saw a trailer or review for sometime early last year but quickly wrote off as yet another “I guess I’ll never play that because I don’t own a PS4.” Between now and then I got a PS4, and a few days ago I remembered this game. Small warning, I will be mostly avoiding main storyline spoilers but I’m gonna talk a lot about the game including some of the initial plot setup and some of the activities you do. Those looking to be spoiler free may want to check out now. 

Gravity Rush 2 is a continuation of the adventures of Kat, a teenage-ish girl who for some reason has the power to alter gravity in her vicinity. This power comes from her pet cat named Dusty whose coat looks almost exactly like the weird, distorted black star field effect used for the Darkness in Destiny. If Dusty is not nearby or is trapped or incapacitated, then Kat loses her gravity powers. 

So, what does Kat do with gravity powers? First and foremost, she uses them to fall through the skies! In game terms, you press R2 once to activate Kat’s powers which leaves her floating stationary above the ground, then you point the camera/cursor where you want to fall towards and hit the button again.

The game, and even Kat herself, has no illusion that she flies anywhere. She falls to where she is going and her animations show that. While you can do some things to have Kat strike a more traditional superhero flying pose, holding X to fall faster usually works, for the most part she is fine with twisting and tumbling about as she falls in whichever direction she chooses. It’s an unexpected delightful way to transverse an open world. 

Kat’s other core gravity based power is picking up various objects in a “stasis field” and effortlessly holding them in midair as they float and tumble near her. She does this for people and objects to take them safely to other destinations, and she also can pick up and launch debris in combat to damage enemies. (And sometime the people she picks up and throws are her enemies!) 

Kat also has the ability to “gravity slide” which sorta tilts gravity at an angle and lets her slide down any surface as if she was always sliding down a very steep incline. It can be useful for traveling along a curving surface since she is constantly adjusting which direction “down” is. She could slide along the inside of a Sonic the Hedgehog loop, for instance, by using the power. I don’t use this one much because there was very rarely a reason to and because it makes moving around more tricky than it should be. Your ability to aim yourself is very finicky. 

Kat’s final core gravity ability, which I do like a good bit, is that if you fall into the side or even the bottom of a flat structure, Kat will instinctively flip gravity around so she can run and jump across it as if she were standing right side up. This means you can stand on the side or even on the bottom of buildings. This also works on other objects like the sky flying cars and ships buzzing about the sky. It’s a little mind boggling to move around the bottom of a building as if you were right side up, but it’s also pretty awesome and the game handles this kind of thing perfectly. Like, your ability to clamber up a wall Destiny 2 style works just as well on the bottom or side of a structure as it does when you are right side up. (I like game engines that just seem to do the right thing effortlessly vs engines where something seemingly works sometimes and not other.) 

The open world of Gravity Rush 2 can be summed up in one word: “Super Great” … Ok… that was two words. Let me try that again. The open world is: “Very well done” …. Well darn. One more try? No? Fine. The point is, I like it a lot.  The game starts with Kat indentured to a small flying trading town that took her in after she was sucked from her home dimension via a gravity storm. This little town made of a dozen or so small buildings flying far above the clouds is a nice training area, especially since the game starts you out without your gravity shifting powers. So you learn to navigate around the town on foot before you regain your pet cat (and thus your gravity powers) within the first 30 minutes of gameplay. 

From that point what was a sorta difficult area to navigate around (since most of the buildings of the town are not connected to each other forcing you to always take the long way around bridges and catwalks) becomes dead simple to make your way around as you just fall to where ever you want to go to. The game and initial story setup/training really does a nice job of showing you just how useful your gravity powers are by forcing you to move around without them at first. 

Not long after that, the mining town finishes its work and returns to its port city to resupply. It’s here where the game really begins. The flying city of Jirga Para Lhao is big, beautiful, and complex. At first glance, it appears to be made up of multiple small-ish floating islands, and to the game’s credit most of these islands seem to have an in-world purpose. The island your little mining town docks at has a market right off the docks but also has a small residential area and a few taller buildings. In the distance are other islands, some sporting skyscrapers, some are clearly shipping docks or warehouses. 

Though this is a game you usually spend above the ground, landing and walking around is a joy because of all the little things going on in the city islands. There’s people shopping, people running the shops, people moving crates around, people juggling, people sitting on benches, groups of friends having conversations. There’s even kids and birds and dogs and cats and ducks. 

This is not a game like Arkham City / Knight where everyone goes away leaving the play space devoid of almost all life. Instead, each island feels alive and more than sufficiently detailed. Plus the architecture is nicely detailed and varied. There’s bridges and water towers and lighthouses and all sorts of cool things all over the place. In some ways it feels like a somewhat more modern version of Bioshock Infinite’s floating city of Colombia… remade as an open world… without the racism.

For the first hour or so you have a blast exploring this open world, but then, at some point, you remember that you can fall wherever you want so you decide to test the limits and fall as far up or down as you can. When you do that you quickly find that the set of islands you can see around you are just part of the flying city you are in. High above the main city is a series of flying estates sporting mansions, parks, and gardens. Rich people and high class pets dot these more sparsely populated areas. And far above them is an official looking government building. And above that is a fortified flying military base complete with anti-air cannons that force you to keep your distance.

Go down, and for the first few seconds you think you’re just gonna descend into an endless layer of clouds, but then you sorta break through and find that there’s an entire flying shanty town populated by the poor and downtrodden. This group of twenty or more mini islands is definitely far more rundown than even the “normal” mid level islands and is in complete contrast with the flying estates far, far above.

All in all, the playable space in Gravity Rush 2 is just delightfully large and it surprises you at being even bigger than you thought it was when you first step foot off the flying boat dock. Oh… then in the mid to late game the map size and complexity doubles!

I don’t really have much to say about the graphics and animation of the game, other than they are fantastic. Kat’s character animations are especially superb. The way she tumbles if you land too hard or the way she strings snappy kicks together during combat are a joy to watch again and again. And, the use of fog to partially obscure distant parts of the city works really well. Up close everything is colorful and vibrant and just all around well done while the fog helps enhance the feeling of being in a huge play space. Oh, and the dogs are super cute, too! 

So, what is there to do in this delightful open world? All this space would be wasted if there was nothing to do. There’s two main parts to Gravity Rush 2: The main story, and a bushel of side quests. 

The main story is pretty long and is split into at least three main segments. A lot of it is told through a fairly unique series of comic book style panels. You’ll start at one panel then press X and a character will maybe move in from off panel or someone who was in the panel will get a speech bubble usually accompanied by a word or short phrase of spoken dialogue to give a touch of tone and mood to what you read in the speech ballon. Then you press X again and maybe another character replies or another speech bubble appears. Each panel gets two or three little events like that then you shift left or right or up or down to the next panel, as if reading an animated comic book. 

A typical “cutscene” is usually around 5 to 10 panels long and the art is great. It fits very closely to the game’s graphics and does not feel out of place at all. One thing this game doesn’t have is fully voiced dialogue. Often the characters will speak a few words along with their speech bubbles that you read. What little speech there is sounds like a strange half French half Japanese and is more for tone than anything else. The voiced phrases almost never have enough words to match what was actually said in the speech bubbles. Still, it works well enough and was never really a negative or a distraction. 

I liked the main story. Some pretty big things eventually happen, but Kat does her best to maintain a cheery, upbeat attitude. My only complaint is that it sorta forgets that I didn’t play Gravity Rush 1 and a few characters I didn’t know pop up to help or hinder Kat in rapid succession without much introduction. 

Maybe the real draw of Gravity Rush 2 isn’t the main story but is instead the side quests. These too have fun, comic book style cutscenes, and cover a surprisingly wide variety of tasks. Of the top of my head, over the course of the game Kat has: 

  • Gone mining for minerals in a ruined city
  • Helped deliver a last crate of cargo to a departing airship that forgot it on the dock
  • Delivered a ton of newspapers all across one of the larger islands 
  • Tracked down a shop and its owner based on a photo where you had to pay attention to the direction and distance of objects in the background
  • Run annoying errands for the wealthy high class jerks on their private floating islands
  • Watered some trees (one of Kat’s powers is picking up nearby objects and if she does it near a source of water she will hover globs of water around herself until she throws them) 
  • Starred in an action movie
  • Impersonated a local hero in order to trick people into buying ice cream
  • Tailed a cheating boyfriend through the entertainment district
  • Flew a little girl around a park to keep her entertained 
  • Helped a journalist uncover corruption by taking a photo of a government guy and a criminal during a secret business deal
  • Survived police training
  • Helped a daughter buy a present for someone
  • Looked for a new place to live
  • Raced a bird to prove who is ruler of the skies
  • Broke up a student lead demonic cult
  • And… I don’t know… a whole bunch of other stuff

While a couple of these missions do repeat their basic gameplay elements, no two is exactly alike and even the ones that are similar still have you doing those similar things for very different reasons and at the behest of entirely different characters. And, as you can see from the list above, most of the things you do are just delightful!

But maybe the best part is Kat who, while not one note by any means, is pretty consistently upbeat about things. She very often jumps at the chance to help people and even when things don’t go her way she still usually find a bright spot to hold on to. Her charming, adorkable personality is a nice, refreshing change to most modern open world heroes and heroines (such as Aloy or Geralt or… uh Batman who all tend to be more cynical and grim about everything.) 

So, there’s a ton of side quests, many of which involve fetching or finding things. But there’s also  a fair amount of combat. Certainly the main story gets very combat heavy by the end, and some of the side quests have a fair amount of combat as well. 

On the ground, Kat can chain together a few rapid kicks and you have a dodge function that has you tumble out of the way. It’s not exactly Arkham style where you try and keep a flow going, but it doesn’t feel bad. In the air, though, is where you’ll be doing a lot of your combat. And there you have a variety of options from lock-on kicks that track enemies, to picking up and throwing things around you, to charged power attacks, to special attacks like slamming through a bunch of enemies or hovering in place as you constantly bombard enemies with debris.

The combat is just a little clunky because of the 3d any direction goes aspect of the game, but it still works pretty well. A lot of it is anticipating the direction you need to swing the camera around to keep attacking enemies. You have pretty good control of your own movement and you are generally in big open environments so combat is fairly fun. Occasionally, though, you are forced to fight in enclosed spaces. And there things become a lot more annoying. Not a huge turnoff or anything, but fighting in enclosed spaces as a character than can quickly fall in any direction… doesn’t work nearly as well as when she has room to move. 

One thing I did enjoy was the boss fights. I’ve battled everything from giant walker robots that would be right at home in Sonic Adventure, to a boss I had to destroy parts of before I could attack its actual weak spots, to one boss that was perhaps the biggest enemy I’ve ever fought in any game, to at least a couple of bosses that were comparable to Kat in size, speed, and power. 

All in all, Gravity Rush 2 is a delightful game, with an adorkable main character, a detailed, charming world, a ton of interesting side quest, and a main story that covers a lot of ground and eventually ups the stakes to epic levels. 

My biggest likes were Kat’s personality and movement powers. Falling through the skies as an upbeat character just works so well. 

My biggest dislike was the way the late story threw in a few characters that I had never seen before. Some of them Kat had clearly met before but they needed more introduction, for sure! Also, Kat’s solution to the final boss pretty much came out of nowhere and wasn’t even really shown on screen. 🙁

If you haven’t played Gravity Rush 2, I highly recommend it. I got it for pretty cheap off the PlayStation store and I bet an actually diligent deal hunter could find it for even cheaper than I did.