Keiichiro Toyama drops us headfirst into the hidden depths of his vibrant action sequel
Can you feel that rumble? That’s the rippling swell of anticipation for Gravity Rush 2, coming off the back of its superb E3 2016 clip.
“A lot of people were asking me about the trailer after the PlayStation E3 Press Conference,” says Creative Director Keiichiro Toyama. “So I felt a bit like Kat does in the game – happy that people wanted to support me and the team, just like the characters in the game support her!”
With Toyama-san cheerfully defying gravity, we joined him up on cloud nine for a chat…
1. From kitten to Kat
While the first Gravity Rush was all about the discovery of identity, the themes which envelop Kat this time are a little different.
“You’re going to see a lot of personal growth and the emotional fallout from her journey,” explains Toyama-san. “We gave you a taste in the first game but it’ll be fully explored in this one.
“Gravity Rush 2 is really about development and maturity – Kat is mischievous, but she’s also a great person and we wanted to go into that more and find out who she actually is.”
2. A whole new world
Gravity Rush was one of PlayStation Vita’s stand-out titles, but the development team really wanted to take advantage of the increased power PS4 afforded for the sequel. So a staggering amount of detail was put into creating this new environment for Kat to explore. “We wanted to do everything bigger and better – more volume and space,” explains Toyama-san.
“We did a lot of location research in places like Mexico and all across Asia, so there’s a lot of real world inspiration on how the city looks. The map is two-and-a-half to three times bigger than the first game, so increasing that scale in every respect was something we fought for – along with more options in combat with her Lunar and Jupiter gravity styles, while also keeping the accessibility that made Gravity Rush so easy to get into.”
3. It’s the little things…
The focus wasn’t just on the larger elements of the game, however. Toyama-san and his team were keen to make sure there are a tonne of details to catch your eye, too.
“Making the world seem extremely alive was hugely important for us, especially as the series was coming to PS4. We wanted dense cities and environments, with vibrancy about them.
“Every location you visit in the game is an independent floating island, so we wanted to make sure they were all floating correctly and moving independently – this was difficult but we were really focused on getting it right.”
The wide range of bystanders in Kat’s adventure aren’t left out in the cold, either.
“There are several different interactions you can have – you can walk by them and they’ll react to you in different ways, they can get caught up in your gravity field and get shocked or surprised,” says Toyama-san. “There are lots of animals to look at as well.”
4. Feeling super
Maintaining influences from classic comic book tales such as Mœbius and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Incal, Gravity Rush 2 also features some of Toyama-san’s favourite manga and anime.
“I really like Kamen Rider,” laughs Toyama-san, referring to the brilliantly odd-looking Japanese super hero. “So you’ll see even more elements of that in the game. You can also see the Sailor Moon influences, especially when the characters in the game are doing their finishing moves and dynamic poses.
“I’d really recommend having Kat pose with other people and props in the new camera mode in the game. There are a lot of goofy possibilities!”
5. Keeping things light
Speaking of goofy – even though Kat may find herself in peril and situations may take an occasionally serious turn, Toyama-san is all about keeping things fun.
“We wanted to make a positive, upbeat game, but that naturally manifested itself from the concept of controlling gravity,” explains Toyama-san. “It may have been a bit too strange having the story go too dark from that idea, so making it vibrant was something that just gelled.
“There are over 50 side stories that have nice comedic moments that bring personality to Gravity Rush 2. For example, one mission has Kat becoming an action star for a movie, which is filmed in-game. It’s all very light hearted, as you would expect.”