Tuesday 20 February 2018

Games: Defying gravity is a pure joy

Gravity Rush 2, (PS4), 4 Stars, Age: 12+

Gravity Rush 2
Gravity Rush 2
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

If ideas were explosives, Gravity Rush could blow up a building. The original game far outshone everything else on the PS Vita handheld purely on invention alone.

Four years later, PS Vita is dead but gravity-defying heroine Kat lives on in this sequel, a high-def offshoot once again brimming with unusual notions. With an art style that evokes Studio Ghibli's finer moments, and a barmy narrative that delves into the social-class system, GR2 immediately separates itself from the usual videogame banalities.

Some of this potential goes to waste. Check out that awkward combat system, in which the unreliable camera proves an unwelcome revenant from the first game. Or how about the lazy mission design, which forces repetitive fetch quests on you time and again.

Still, GR2 extracts maximal enjoyment from the series' central idea that Kat controls her own gravity - enabling her to "fall" up, down, sideways, whichever - for a limited time. With a vast new city to explore, this novel method of traversal is reason enough to play by itself. Kat can zoom into the sky, walk up the walls of buildings and zip like a bullet at enemies.

Were it not for the clumsy controls in combat, Kat would be pure joy distilled.

Let It Die

(PS4) 3 Stars, Age: 16+

Surrealist auteur Goichi 'Suda51' Suda dropped this oddball on us from nowhere. The creator of Killer7 and No More Heroes reprises his wacky style in Let It Die, a roguelike taking cues from infamous hack'n'slash Dark Souls.

Suda51 birthed this free-to-play effort without fanfare but, save for the mildly intrusive microtransactions, it's to all intents a full game. It riffs on his familiar theme of a game within a game, as the player is challenged to slaughter his way up a vertiginous tower, the layouts randomly generated in every playthrough.

The Dark Souls twist is that once you die - and you will, a lot - you can fight your way back up to reclaim items earned previously. Or you can pay to bypass the slog. As amusingly crazy as it is thematically, the samey levels and stilted combat undo Suda's fine intentions. Worth a look if you're a fan of his previous work, though, especially at this price.

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