Gravity Rush – Spoiler talk

Hello, and welcome to the Gravity Rush spoiler talk! For those not in the know, we like to follow up our reviews by talking about all the stuff we couldn’t discuss because of spoilers, most just for fun. As always, we’ll be going forward with the idea you’ve already completed the game, hence won’t be stopping to explain too much and just jumping straight onto the spoilers. Gravity Rush comes highly recommended, and thus I encourage anyone who hasn’t gotten the game to get and finish it first. While sometimes all over the place the series’ story and characters will suffer if you know about spoilers relating to them when you go in.

In any case, since I’ve run out of gravity based puns for this intro sentence, let’s just dive straight in!

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Let’s not beat around the bush and just start on the big one, namely the details about Kat’s past and all the implications there in. I’m sure that no one is that surprised at the revelation that Kat is actually royalty: the trippy dream/flashback sequence in the first game heavily hinted at the idea, and the fact that Kat’s title is some as specific as ‘Gravity Queen’ was highly suspicious. That being said, I didn’t quite expect Kat to have actually been a full on queen, since she seemed a little young for the role (although, we later find out time and age in Eto is a confusing affair). Not to mention all the other details we learn about Eto royalty are equally as interesting. For one, the suggestion that Eto’s rulers are decided not necessarily by bloodline but by some other means (namely the capacity to get/create/receive a Guardian) helps to sell the idea that Eto is completely alien to any of the societies further down the World Pillar, and the weird mysticism surrounding the place. In addition to this titbit of info, we also learn that Kat might be blessed with an extremely long life: a guy who looked like he could have been in his forties or fifties remembers when he was a small boy bouncing on ‘Alua’s’ knee, over one hundred years ago, and Kat doesn’t look a day older. This might just be because of the weird time dilatation on the Pillar, since a few days on the bottom resulted in Kat missing a year in Hekseville, so she might have skipped even more time in Eto. That being said, the fact that the guy is apparently over one hundred years old and doesn’t look like he was even pushing his late fifties probably gives an idea of how much longer lived the people of Eto are, and the royalty are apparently even more so. I half wonder if the apparent Guardians the royal family have might be connected with their extended lives; if so, does that mean Raven is also blessed with an extended lifetime, and has Kat actually lost some of hers? I hope that any future Gravity Rush games we get in the future will fill in some of the details, such as what the heck a Guardian even is and how it’s possible that Raven has half of Kat’s (maybe?), but maybe some things are better left off as a mystery.

Actually, let’s talk about Raven and Kat’s duality. It is never made 100% absolutely clear what the game means by suggestion that Raven is somehow “half of” Kat. It could just be that Kat’s Guardian (the combined version of Dusty and Xii) was split in two because of the trauma that originally induced it, and now Raven owns one half. However, considering Sachya’s undisclosed past before being adopted, there also seems to be a suggestion that it’s Kat and Raven that are split. This would mean that the two were originally both parts of a singular being, but something occurred that made the being split into separate entities. This would explain why Xii joined with Raven when she found herself in Hekseville, and why Kat’s Guardian didn’t form normally like Cai’s or any of the other royal family. The theory gains more credence when you consider just how similar the two are: despite having fairly different personalities, both Kat and Raven share the same fundamental desire to help others and protect the ones they care about. They even share a very similar fighting style despite neither being taught combat, a somewhat snarky sense of humour, and apparently bottomless stomachs*. Heck, even their differences could add to the theory: Raven could have been the half of the original entity that remains calm and does a better job of hiding their thoughts, while Kat was the half that more earnestly wanted to enjoy life and help others, kind of like a left-brain right- brain situation. In any case, no matter what the situation is, it almost certainly makes the fans of Kat and Raven being in a more than platonic relationship happy. I mean, Raven literally says that (temporarily) loosing Kat felt like having “half of who you are torn away from you.” That line is just ambiguous enough that I’m fairly certain the creators were aware of what they were doing. Though, it does raise of question of whether such a relationship would be considered some kind of weird half narcissism…

*To be fair, there’s a suggestion that might be more to do with their powers. Apparently, shifting gravity burns a crap load of energy, so they pretty have to constantly stuff their faces because they’re always burning through so much of their reserves.

At any rate, Raven isn’t the only one with a surprise twist in their characters. Syd really pulls out his A-game for the sequel, especially since he was pretty much playing the fool for pretty much 90% of both games. Apart from one or two moments in the first game that showed that Syd was far more competent than he let on, it’s really difficult to see Syd as anything but the both games comic relief, though there were a few hints. Right at the end of the first game, he starts to pull out a strange device from his jacket, which we eventually learn was the tool he used to control the Nevi while pretending to be Alias. Not to mention, the only time we get to see Alias’ supposed ability to look like other people is when he takes the form of Syd, which we now know was him actually dropping the disguise. The biggest hint, however, was just how Syd looks: while Hekseville has some unique looking individuals, only Kat and Syd have the same tanned skin, and Syd is the only one to have both white hair and golden eyes. These traits seem to be fair common in Eto, but in Hekseville they allude to the fact that Syd is not being entirely truthful when he acts like he grew up in the city. Even cooler than his hidden skills, however, was just how much he played the long game in helping Kat. It seems to be suggested that he invented the character of Alias just so Kat would have a ‘rival’ to defeat, thus earning the trust and admiration of the people. This in turn would encourage her to continue to help others, which would inevitably grow her powers. While I doubt he could have predicted all the other crap they’d get involved with (indeed, it’s more or less stated that Syd was freakin’ killed during the events at Jirga Para Lhao), his subtle training program certainly paid off in the end. Not to mention, in specific kind of way, he showed remarkable restraint. Kat’s memories show that the two of them were pretty close before Kat was thrown off Eto, to the point where Syd is currently rivalling Raven for the position of “Maybe Love-Interest?” It must have been pretty rough to see someone you care so much about, only have them act like you’re a complete stranger (I’m getting Yakuza 0 flashbacks…). But Syd knew there was no point in rushing things, instead just biding his time until Kat found out the truth by herself. It’ll be interesting to see if the purely hypothetical sequels sort of address this change in the dynamic between them, since while the personality he displays is mostly genuine, it’s easy to imagine that things might change now that he doesn’t have to pretend to be way less competent than he actually is.

Speaking of hypothetical sequels, I kind of wonder how they’ll progress things now that Gade, Cyanea, and Bit are gone. The “Creators” roles in the games were always kind of an odd one, since they were mostly just there so Kat could gain access to a place or power that would help to solve the immediate problem in front of her. Likewise, what they were exactly was never made clear since, despite their names, it doesn’t seem they created the world so much as merely maintain it. Part of that maintaining seemed to align with Kat’s goals, since they assist in her efforts to save Hekseville more than once, but it’s pretty unclear what exactly their roles are in the grand scheme of things. They were definitely god-like in powers, and each seemed to be divide up into different areas, with Gade on planes of existence, Cyanea as creating the ‘dream’ which seemed to impact how humans see the world, and Bit as a kind of a magical programmer. The only real thing they had in common was the fact that they weren’t immune to being surprised or swayed, and thus end up helping Kat and Co a fair amount. They were bound by some laws so they couldn’t just help all the time, but these laws were never made exactly clear on what they could and couldn’t intervene on, and what we do see isn’t always consistent. Basically, the Creators really did just exist so the writers could have them do whatever the plot needed them to, so their deaths are pretty surprising. If Gravity Rush 3 rolls around, Kat isn’t going to be able to fall back on the Creators help, unless the sequels replace the creators with different characters. Likewise, without Gade, travel between the Rift Planes is going to be much more difficult, which could cause any number of issues considering how nuts those things are. Of course, it’s always possible that there might be more Creators out there, and that the deaths of these three might be clearing room for another collection in any future games. Overall, while I’m sad to see them go (some of the funnier moments in the early Gravity Rush 1 scenes are of Gade and Kat’s interactions), I think putting Kat in an even more perilous situation in any future adventures can only be more interesting.

In any case, there were a couple of things that I wasn’t too sure of after completing the games. For one, can we talk about Gravity Rush 2’s final boss? Mostly it’s pretty sudden appearance? It was technically foreshadowed, in the hints that Cai’s actions were either influenced if not directly guided by ‘The Darkness’ (or ‘Destructive Force,’ the game can’t seem to settle on just one name). Don’t get me wrong, I actually quite like The Darkness’ inclusion: I real sucker for evil aspects personified, it creates a beautiful ending sequence where all of city’s occupants join together in song, and its design looks like it came right off a heavy metal album. The issue I sort of take with it is that we didn’t really know the thing existed until it possessed Cai’s Guardian, and even then don’t really get much of an explanation.  I’m never a big fan of when the final boss in the game is a force or person that hadn’t been properly introduced before hand, since it kind of muddies up what should be the climax. We should really have an article dedicated to the subject, but as a quick idea: I reckon a final boss should be both the last exam of everything the game has been trying to teach the player in gameplay, and also be a final confrontation that connects to the protagonist. If the final boss is a character that creates a contrast to the protagonist or is even a character that could have been the protagonist in another story all the better, but the player needs to know and understand this connection before the end. While we knew of The Darkness since the first game, since we knew of the colossal gravity storm climbing up the Pillar, it came off as more of an environmental threat. More than anything else, I think the biggest reason I’m not really feeling The Darkness as a final boss is because we already had a perfectly good one lined up: Cai is perfect final boss material. He has a personal connection with Kat (namely being the one who usurped her throne), is definitely more powerful than Kat thanks to his whole Guardian, and the player is almost certainly fully prepared to deliver a beat down to his genocide-friendly ass. While The Darkness is cool, I think I would have preferred just making Cai the final boss, so we could avoid having a end boss that kind of comes out of nowhere.

Actually, when I stop to think about it, the second game had kind of a running problem with really sudden and not entirely well explained boss fights. Kali Angel’s transformation into a giant and quite genuinely horrifying blob is probably the most egregious example, since it’s incredibly out of step with everything else in the game. The series has had a lot of creepy stuff in it (the weird ‘bones’ and ‘teeth’ with the Pillar, all the wanton murder, basically everything to do with the Nevi), but Kali turning into a some sort of Resident Evil/Silent Hill boss fight is really a step above and beyond the port of call. Like, there’s the feeling of “subtle sense of unease,” like when you first see The World Pillars inexplicable ‘spines,’ and then there’s the feeling you get when you see the several faces of Kali all screaming at you at once, which I can only decide as “holy shit.” At the very, very least, the game could have made more of an effort to explain this sudden change. The explanation given is that Kali’s ability to rapidly heal (aka, the reason you could use Jupiter’s super punches against her without her head just popping off her shoulders) had entered a “positive feedback loop.” While that’s a good explanation as any, the game didn’t really make this super healing ability very well know beforehand, or that over-use could create some screwed up stuff. Explained or not, this rather jarring shift into full-on body horror feels a little out of place in a series that usually doesn’t let things go any further than just creepy implications. Then again, when I stop to remember that the director of Gravity Rush also made the absolutely horrifying Siren series, Kali’s sudden change makes a little more sense…

While we’re on the subject of Kali, I got to admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the whole Dr. Brahman sub-plot, mostly because of how much time it takes. While it’s sort of funny that pretty much every mayor Hekseville has had was in some way an evil or corrupt git (here’s to hoping Lisa can break the cycle), and that the ‘Angel’ sisters were a pretty great boss fight, it feels like we spend more time dealing with those guys than on Eto. I get that there are important points in there, such as how this explains how Hekseville survived for so long without Kat, and why Kat is back to being underappreciated in the sequel, but it still feels like an odd set of priorities.  This problem is more of a symptom of a reoccurring issue throughout both games, namely that writers seem to be actively trying to get distracted from the central plot. While definitely interesting, all the stuff in Jirga Para Lhao and the Brahman subplots ultimately add nothing to the overall narrative of Kat finding out just what the hell is going on. Like I said before, I’m actually quite a big fan of the format of creating all the side-stories to create a interesting world that Kat can get involved in, but I’m not a fan of the developers kind of screwy priorities. The fact that everything to do with Eto and Kat’s past is all shoved into the final hours of the game instead of just being the focus of the game feels like an odd choice. Eto is a MASSIVELY important location in the setting, and is extremely important to Kat’s past, but we only really get to glance at it in Gravity Rush 2. If they ever do make a Gravity Rush 3, I hope that we actually get a chance to freely explore Eto, and find out the undoubtedly odd lore that a city at the top of the world must have.

Now that I’ve got all my complaints out of my system, l just want to examine one more thing more closely before we close off, namely the actual ending for second game. For one: holy hell was the image of several hundred powered-up Dustys and Xiis charging what is basically the devil both kind of cheesy and definitely amazing. It’s completely over the top in many ways, but at the same time it helps to sell two main ideas, namely that The Darkness was one tough son of a gun, and that Kat was nearly absolutely OP. If we follow the theory that Dusty and Xii are the separated parts of a single Guardian, then we kind of guess that the combination of both must have been Kat’s intended power from the start. With that in mind, maybe the reason that Kat was separated into both herself and Raven was because the power to go into some kind of Super- Saiyan combination mode is completely over-powered. I really love this kind of stuff; the idea that a character would be completely broken if they ever had access to their full potential always creates some pretty damn amazing moments, and this one is no exception. That’s not the only great part about the ending, however: the use of the song “Discovery of Gravitation” (the song that Kat made up on the fly when she was mistaken for a singer) has really damn great moment, when everyone in Hekseville joins together to sing it, as heard here. It’s a really great moment, not only because of the idea that Kat manages to stand up again via sheer willpower from hearing it, but also because of its implications. Hekseville isn’t always kind to Kat, since its people seem to be in a bad a habit of forgetting that its gravity shifting super-hero even exists, and when they do they’re not always exactly grateful. But when all of the residents of the city join together to sing this, it puts all doubts aside: no matter how they treat her on a day to day basis, the people of Hekseville do genuinely look to and admire Kat for everything she’s done. When they’re in their darkest hour, and when things look bleak, the first fought in their heads is to join together in a song that’s more or less centred around Kat. I think that’s why Kat finds the strength to stand again. Hekseville may not have been the place where Kat was born, and indeed it isn’t even the kingdom that Kat is technically still the queen of, but she still wants to protect for more than just heroic reasons. In a way, I think she does genuinely come to think of the city as her home, and its people become her people, even despite all the facts that separate them. The fact that Kat is willing to throw herself into the void below and create the singularity that will forever seal The Darkness away is proof enough, and the fact that she eventually managed to find her way back is a fantastically triumphant moment.

I really do love these games. I covered the main reasons in the reviews, but honestly another big reasons I love these games is the fact that they continue to surprise me. I really have no idea what to expect from this franchise, and I think a big part of them comes from just how strange and unique the whole thing is. If someone had told me I would eventually play a game where you fly around by manipulating gravity, and that the second game in the series would have you fighting the devil by throwing an army of panthers and phoenixes at it, I would honestly have thought the idea would be too mad to even work. I’m pretty pleased to be wrong, on this occasion.

While I would encourage the development team to work on whatever they felt like they wanted to work on most of all, rather than listen to the rampant fan boy that is myself, I do hope that we can eventually return to the world of Gravity Rush. Even from just these two games, it’s clear that there’s a lot more stories to be told, and I wouldn’t to a single one.

(Just to play us out, take a gander at Raven’s full theme from Gravity Rush 2 if you haven’t; it’s one my favourite tracks out of the entire game)

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