Gravity Rush 2: The Ark of Time – Raven’s Choice (DLC) Mini-review

I really liked Gravity Rush 2. Sure, the first game was incredibly underwhelming, but things finally turned the corner in the sequel and became fun; it had better characters, music, and mechanics, and while the story was still scattershot nonsense, it was an entertaining enough ride that I was willing to look past that. Then its free DLC came out. Gravity Rush 2: Another Story: The Ark of Time – Raven’s Choice: Electric Boogaloo—a fine example of how to name something so confusingly that no one knows exactly what to call it—is an abomination. Its story is so bad that it actually dampers my enthusiasm for the base game, and I genuinely regret bothering to play through it. All this time I’ve been criticizing the Gravity Rush games’ storytelling for not providing any answers, and while this DLC continues that trend by introducing things that are left unexplained the second they stop being convenient plot devices, the moments where the DLC actually explains things are so much worse. The gameplay doesn’t rescue things this time, either. If anything, it piles on by including an awkward stealth section and “protect this thing that’s being attacked” mission so ill-advised that anyone who’s actually played a game in the past 20 years would know better than to design it. I’m becoming more and more concerned that everyone involved in this series’ development is being kept in windowless cells between games, starved of the most basic stimulation to the point where even the dumbest stories and worst mechanics are manna to them.

Ruining everything

One of the few good things about the first Gravity Rush game was Raven’s back story. It didn’t (and still doesn’t, sadly) make a whole lot of sense how she became a shifter like Kat, but the simple fact that she had an actual history and motivations elevated her beyond most of the cast. I also really liked how the second game turned her into a bona fide second protagonist. This DLC ruins her character.

This could be considered a bit of a spoiler (though it’ll be obvious to anyone who played the base game), but the absence of the kids and the titular ark from the second game meant that the writers had to come up with a way of writing them out. Instead of allowing Raven’s arc to come to a satisfying conclusion and moving forward into the events of the second game from there, however, the game effectively goes “whoops, we shouldn’t have included that, so let’s all forget that it ever happened!” Magic and stupidity ensues to those ends, with the game taking on a tone of self-awareness and talking about this plot thread as a “bug” to be fixed. Because the Gravity Rush universe is obviously a game, right? I hate everything about this. Not only is it a random development that comes out of nowhere to nuke story threads the writers were too incompetent to actually finish, but by the end of the game Raven has no character anymore. There’s nothing to drive her, no history that informs the kind of person she is. They took one of the few interesting things from the first game and destroyed it because they got bored and flipped over the metaphorical chess table that is this game’s story. Except Gravity Rush stories are more like checkers being played against the mentally handicapped, which only makes the writers’ inability to make it work that much more pathetic.

This is painful to play

I didn’t have a problem with the second game’s stealth sequences. If anything, I loved finding ways to cheese my way through them, from stacking boxes in photo mode for cover to flying under them. The stealth sequence in Raven’s Another: Choice Time Story – Rush Ark is beyond saving, though. You play as Raven back when she was Sachya, which is to say a powerless child, meaning you have no way of gaming the system with your powers. This section consists of slowly moving her around patrolling monsters while walking into glowing orbs and huge objects like swings and teddy bears that reveal little bits from her history. It’s so awful and boring that I actually had to put the game down and come back later.

Then you have to protect a weird ghostly version of Zaza from the first game. He moves automatically and you have to protect him from monsters, but he only moves if the monsters have been taken care of. In the interests of making this as annoying as possible, however, monsters respawn after a short time, so babysitting him becomes a needless hassle. Especially since the DLC isn’t littered with many free objects to pick up and throw; Raven has the ability to use some of her special bar to conjure up energy balls, but this quickly runs out and ensures that your go-to attack will be the drill kick, her version of Kat’s gravity kick that’s continuous rather than a one-off attack and requires rapidly hitting square. These midair kicks are as awkward and prone to missing as they were in the first game, however, so I’d constantly try to protect Zaza from a respawned monster, only to fly past the monster, get the camera all tangled up, and waste a ton of time getting lined up for a followup kick every bit as prone to missing as the first. This is not good gameplay.

This also becomes a problem toward the very end of the DLC where you’re tasked with protecting the ark from a bunch of monsters. There are a ton of them, they all attack the ark at once, and the only way of hitting them is to use drill kicks and special attacks. Of course, your special attack meter is charged by landing drill kicks, so missing a bunch of kicks can easily screw you over and leave you with no special attack. This becomes a problem when the larger waves show up and drill kicking them to death one at a time no longer becomes practical.

The bosses might as well not exist

The game introduces two new bosses with attacks that seem unique to them (unless I’m forgetting an encounter from the base game), and it doesn’t matter because they’re easily drill kicked to death. Like I said before, the drill kick is continuous. If you continue tapping square once you land one, you can take out a huge chunk of their life bar and refill your special meter. By the time the next phase of the fight starts, you can conjure up energy balls and continue to wreck them. I suppose this is better than them being unfair or terrible to fight, but they still feel like wasted opportunities to do something big and interesting.

I liked one thing here

Partway in you have to track down some things, and the way you accomplish this is to beat Nevi, at which point a bunch of shiny particles show up all around you and blow in the wind in the direction you need to go. This was the one legitimately interesting feature in the entirety of the DLC. It wasn’t worth ruining Raven and the world over, and it’s used for a period of maybe three minutes and never again, but at least it gives me something positive to talk about. Otherwise, Rush of Time: Choice Ark – Gravity Raven is so completely lacking in anything resembling entertainment or purpose that I almost feel compelled to uninstall Gravity Rush 2 entirely just to get it off of my PS4. I hate this DLC from the bottom of my heart and implore others to avoid making the same mistake I did. Please avoid this trash.

Gravity Rush 2: The Ark of Time DLC Screenshots

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