When a dominantly single-player game adds in an online component, it usually comes in the form of multiplayer. In others, it sometimes amounts to happening upon the ghosts or corpses of other players that met their end. Gravity Rush 2's online functionality is starkly different though, with challenges, photo sharing, and more brought to the game. You never saw another player, but in a way, it still felt like a shared experience with photos other players took popping up when you visited the same place as them, and so on.
Soon, that will all come to an end though. Tonight at 10pm PT sharp, Gravity Rush 2's servers will close. The players of Gravity Rush 2 are on a mad dash now; a gravity-bending race to get the most out of its online features before it's gone forever.
I listed Gravity Rush 2 as one of my favorite games of last year. Its exploration, Kohei Tanaka-composed score, and environment design are what's stuck with me. Overall, it's more refined than its finicky predecessor; its combat is still clunky, but isn't as bothersome. Gravity Rush 2's campaign lasts a bit too long, and it leans on a lot of repetitive structures and misguided stealth. And yet, I still ended up loving it in spite of all its glaring flaws.
Gone with the servers will be treasure hunts, shareable photos, challenges against other players' ghosts, and a few other minor features. It's not a grand amount that will be gone—I would argue that your enjoyment of it overall won't be that hindered—but still, it's inspired the ire of its dedicated fanbase. Some have taken to Reddit, others to Twitter, all under the shared hashtag-mantra: #DontForgetGravityRush.
Gravity Rush 2 only released a little over a year and a half ago in early 2017. It was quickly buried by a bundle of releases, from Yakuza 0 capturing the hearts social media savvy players to games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Nier: Automata dominating the spring with acclaim. Gravity Rush 2 never had a chance, even if under different circumstances, it might have been able to shine through.
Its online component, some might say, is negligible. In the later parts of the game, its online server-bid events reward Kat with "Dusty Tokens," which while not a currency like the name suggests, account for milestones and specific rewards (such as the coveted "Unlimited Potential" talisman, netting Kat unlimited gravity). In my eyes though, the short and sweet Online Events serve as a good excuse to do more of what Gravity Rush 2 enables best: explore.
And Gravity Rush 2 is a gorgeous game to traverse. Its influences are hard to pinpoint, grabbing from fantasy, sci-fi, southeast Asia and other cultures to shape something that feels wholly unique, like a quilt of ideas about what a fantasy-sci-fi inclined, class-divided society might look like patched together. Bound together, Jirga Para Lhao is a memorable city in the sea of other places in video games. Its floating clusters of buildings are unforgettable, and prime for sharing with its fleshed out photo mode (whether through Kat's own camera or the measly Share button on the Dualshock).
In all my hours with it, the times I remember most are always when I was doing practically nothing. I'd be gliding through the tiered city of Jirga Para Lhao; with the Lunar Style, I'd try leaping from floating skyscraper to floating skyscraper without shifting gravity at all. In a lot of my largely pointless exploring, every now and then I'd come across a mysterious picture posted by another player online. Sometimes the pictures meant absolutely nothing, just a nice view on the side of a skyscraper or something of the like. Other times pictures would lead me to a quest to find treasure chests.
When the servers shutter tonight, that bonus curiosity will be gone, and I too will lose the ability to help strangers with carefully taken in-game photos. Treasure hunts may still be possible without the online component, but they lose the "hunt" part of the fun and are far harder to just happen upon by sheer luck. With player-denoted help, discovering chests really was a mystery, and analyzing other players' photos to figure out what move to make next added to the fun of the challenge. While plain photo sharing was the lightest of Gravity Rush 2's online suite, it's what stuck out to me the most compared to other games with online functionality. It helped the world feel shared and communal, even when it wasn't.
Across Reddit, Twitter, and more, the cries for saving Gravity Rush 2's servers have seemingly gone unheard, even when tagging higher ups at Sony to rally behind the cause. It's likely because when the hashtag took off once before, earlier this year in January, it extended the server's lifespan. Initially, it was to shutter around its one year anniversary to the chagrin of adoring fans. Luckily, those fans were able to put Gravity Rush 2's servers on life support by uplifting it. The widespread chase to collect Dusty Tokens and collect all the Online Event-only outfits, decorations, and talismans was put on hold. Until now.
Thus, the race is still on. The call to halt the server shuttering is still going. Sadly though, Gravity Rush 2's servers are barreling towards closure tonight after an already lengthy six month delay. Last night, I booted up the game with its online features intact, gliding and flying across its cities in hopes of pursuing more Dusty Tokens, as I never did get that infinite gravity-enabling talisman. The online functionality never did amount to much, but it's another troubling trend in the era of online games, where if something doesn't perform well enough, it could disappear entirely. Gravity Rush 2 at least stands apart from its online components, but it can't help feeling less complete now.
It's sad to know that the next time I power up Gravity Rush 2, there won't be any bonus challenges or treasure hunts awaiting me. I'll be left to my own devices; taking photos for my own enjoyment, knowing that they won't pop up randomly for another player somewhere along the way like they once did. Jirga Para Lhao and beyond is about to feel a whole lot emptier, and that's a shame.