Sometimes being a video game hero is as simple as tumbling awkwardly off the nearest digital rooftop. Or at least that’s what Gravity Rush 2 would suggest.
This new PS4 exclusive is a popular Japanese game that continues the adventures of a young woman named Kat. Now, this waifish gal doesn’t look like someone who might run out to beat down dark creatures and baddies. (In fact, her skimpy costume makes her look like she’d be most comfortable sporting a swimsuit on the cover of a teen mag.)
But it turns out she’s what’s called a Gravity Shifter. Thanks to the mystical and mysterious aid of her pet cat, she can defy the earth’s tug and take flight.
That ability makes Kat a superhero, of sorts, for her little downtrodden community. But she doesn’t up-up-and-away like, say, Supergirl. No, Kat’s power simply allows her to shift gravity’s pull and kinda sorta, um, fall in whatever general direction she wants to go. That means she tumbles tail-over-teakettle through the air, often landing face- or backside-first at her destination of choice.
To be completely factual, though, Kat isn’t just a tumbling thug-thumper in this exotic Asian world of floating cities and growling fiends. She wears a lot of hats. In the course of her quests and relationships, this friendly girl can take on the role of a local salesperson, a newspaper deliverer, a private eye, a part-time journalist, a miner, a firefighter and more.
All of that just adds to the oddness of this sprawling, visually impressive game. You’re never quite sure whether you should meet lots of people and enjoy the colorful milieu and its many mini-game-like side quests, stand up for little guys against the ruling powers that be, or get back to heroically throwing yourself up into the air to smash monsters.
That’s not to suggest that this fantasy game, with its comic book-like story panels, isn’t creative. It is. And I’m not saying that there isn’t an abundance of anime slam-bam in the mix, either. There’s plenty of that, too. It’s just that all of it is tossed at you in such an unexpected tumbling way, much like Kat herself.
I should note that the combat side of things is dynamic, destructive and, well, a little dizzying, too. The camera spins and swirls while following the various mid-air moves and attacks Kat can uncork. There are normal punches and kicks—that you pretty much never use—and some gravity-enhanced stuff, too. Lunar Style, for example, lets Kat leap, run and toss nearby debris as if she were in the light gravity of the moon. Jupiter Style, meanwhile, slows her down as she bears the weight of many gravities, but it also means that her blows land with crushing force.
There’s no real blood and guts in the T-rated mix here, except for a cutscene or two that depict impaled people with some bloodstain on their clothes. But as Kat and her powered-up compatriots slam into the likes of giant mechs that shoot lasers and organic monstrosities that range from colossal demon-like thingies to living cities, there’s plenty o’ peril and pummeling to plough through.
Parents won’t have to worry about any foul language in this Japanese-with-English-subtitles game. And though Kat’s creature-filled world and pet-linked powers are definitely part of some kind of Eastern fantasy existence, the source of this quasi-spiritual reality is never explored or explained.
That said, players will find some heavy drinkers staggering about. And many of the women here, including Kat herself, don’t have any problem strolling around in formfitting, cleavage-and-midriff baring getups that don’t leave much to the animated imagination.
In the end, then, Gravity Rush 2 is a lot like its heroine Kat: It’s appealing, colorful and inviting, but it has enough odd, off-kilter stumbles to keep it from landing solidly on its feet.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.