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Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy Review

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased product for the sake of this review.

Crash, Crash, Crash… for over 20 years, this Bandicoot has been in our hearts with games that offer a challenge while providing satisfying experiences. But after 2010 with Mind Over Mutant, no one ever thought that another Crash game would be possible. That changed. Last year, Activision announced that Crash would be playable in Skylanders: Imaginators but in addition, Vicarious Visions would be working on a remastered port of the original three Crash Bandicoot games, in the form of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. Did Vicarious Visions do justice that Naughty Dog has done all those years ago?

For a remastered trilogy, the presentation is a huge step-up compared to the originals. It’s marvelous. I’ll be fair. The original three still hold a lot of memories to players but you can’t deny how this port did them justice. All the characters look amazing. The locations look vibrant. Even the voice acting is a step up from the originals. It’s a delight seeing many scenes, especially the openings of each game to find that they are just as good, if not better and I like it. I like it greatly. The music is simply amazing to listen to. Every single song from all three games has been given a facelift. Honestly what more can I say? I’ll be honest. I was blown away when I first heard it. It’s a delight. They are all very addicting to listen to, especially for the bosses.

Now for the gameplay, and if you played the originals back on the PS1, you will feel right at home here. Unlike the originals, there are some features the remastered trilogy has that set it apart. For example, Coco is a playable character in all 3 games. With Crash 1 and 2, you need to defeat the first boss to unlock her whereas, in Crash 3, she’s unlocked from the start. She’s similar to Crash if nothing else but it’s nice that his sister is playable in not one but all three games. I commend Vicarious Visions for improving on Coco’s design and like Crash, she is also expressive especially in her death animations. The games are similar to the originals, minus a few changes they made to make the game feel accessible.

The controls are similar to the originals so if you played the game before, you’ll manage. There are some things that make this feel different from the originals. One example is the jumping. The jumping feels heavier. It can have its issues especially on levels where platforming is key. Not only that but I feel in sections like Crash 3’s jetski, the controls for the ski feel a bit rough. I believe that Vicarious wished to add realism to how you actually ride a jetski. Personally, I prefer the original in terms of controls since the physics feel close to perfect. Guess some sacrifices have to be made huh?

Speaking of accessibility, the N. Sane Trilogy has some tweaks to make the game less of a pain, especially in the first game. Originally if you die on a level, you have to restart it in order to get the gem. Here, unless it’s a colored gem, all you need to do is break all the boxes. This is a much-needed change for people that just want to play and complete everything. With Crash 2, they made changes to the hub area by having the boss room included and the option for you to access the hidden area where the secret levels are. It’s pretty nifty. As for Crash 3, there are no added changes. The game also includes time trials for Crash 1 and 2 so you can now try to get the fastest time and collect relics. Leaderboards are also included so you can compare times with other players, as well as the requirements to get a specific relic. Saving the game is easier as you can pretty much save on the overworld or level hub. It’s another welcome feature.

It will not make a difference since each Crash game will take quite a while. Depending on what game you play, the length can take around 6-8 hours each, longer if you want to complete everything. With all of this, your skills as a player will be tested especially for new players that have never played a Crash game. Expect some trial and error if you wish to complete each game and get 100%. There is trophy support for all 3 games as well so that adds length to a complete package.

But if I were to have any nitpicks, it’d be this. Since this is pretty much an updated compilation of three classic games, the difficulty is one thing I find to be the most problematic, especially in Crash 1. Some levels like Road to Nowhere & The High Road can drive any player into madness. At least the sequels alleviate the difficulty by toning it down and making them less stressful. It still doesn’t excuse the fact that some levels will have you throwing the controller in a state of rage. My advice for players is to take it nice and easy. At least the game will not punish you if you lose lives or anything. The boss battles are still easy if you figure out their patterns. Some can be tougher than others. There is paid DLC in the form of a level that was never completed called Stormy Ascent. Stormy Ascent was a level that never got into the final game due to its intense difficulty. If you plan to tackle the level, be warned. It will show no mercy.

The N. Sane Trilogy does the original trilogy justice in so many ways while adding and refining them to make the games better. The presentation is amazing in all categories, the game feels familiar while challenging and it overall feels like a big improvement to a series that is considered classic. Though there are some issues, it shouldn’t stop anyone from picking it up and playing it. Whether you are a new player that wants to experience it for the first time or someone who wants to relive memories, the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is a package I feel that’s worth the purchase price. The best part is that this is $40. You get 3 remastered games that have been given a lot of love and respect at an affordable price. How can you say no to that? You can’t! Get this game now! Show Activision that we need more games like this and maybe we may get a remastered Spyro trilogy! Get this game now! It’s worth the full price.

I give the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy an 8.5 out of 10. If you haven’t gotten this game, you should. Do it. Now!

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Nioh Review

Nioh Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased product for the sake of the review.

In 2011, a little game called Dark Souls was released that brought players a game that was gloomy and challenging. Since it’s release there have been games that felt similar to it or provided their own take and offered something new while keeping it familiar. So what do you get when you take Dark Souls and combine it with Japanese folklore, mythology as well as its history? You get Nioh. Nioh is Team Ninja’s take on the series but don’t let it deceive you. Behind its similarities is a game that offers so much and provides just as much of a challenge as any game they’ve done.

Nioh takes place in the year 1600, during a fictional Sengoku period of Japan when the country was in the middle of civil war before the rise of the Tokugawa shogunate. You play as William, a sailor who travels to Japan in search of a foe that has captured something important to William. He ends up meeting Hattori Hanzo, servant to Tokugawa Ieyasu who requests him to deal with yokai that have been coming about due to the chaos of war. What follows is William encountering many historical figures as he travels to Japan and stop an alchemist who wishes to bring ruin to Japan and eventually the world.

I like that Team Ninja has the game touch on actual Japanese history and it shows. They really did a good job. Most of the story reminded me of the films directed by Akira Kurosawa, since yes, part of Nioh was based on a script that he made but it underwent many revisions. Also it’s based off the real western samurai William Adams, minus the supernatural elements. It’s pretty interesting since after beating this, I wanted to learn more about William Adams, his history as well as some Japanese history.

As far as Nioh’s gameplay goes, you go about moving from one part of the area to the next taking down foes, collecting gear and trying to survive against anything that comes your way. You travel through six different regions in Japan and each one contains missions to go through and complete to acquire experience, money and new gear. Elements of Dark Souls are in the game but don’t let it dissuade you. Nioh’s fast paced, making the game intense as you progress. But how you go about it depends on the player itself. You have five different weapons to choose from: sword, spear, dual swords, axe and kusarigama or chain sickle. Each weapon provides a different style of combat and you can mix it up to provide an advantage. Made better is that you also have three variations: low, medium & high. You also have your Guardian Spirit, a spirit that provides various advantages to the player when activated. By relying on all of these in battle, you can take on any threat that comes your way.

Now like Dark Souls, Nioh has some familiar RPG elements. For example, you earn experience (or Amrita) by defeating enemies along with money and any items they drop. In order to level up, you need to a visit a shrine. Leveling up has you improving your character’s stats by adding points to them. There are 8 different core stats: Body, Heart, Stamina, Strength, Skill, Dexterity, Magic and Spirit. Adding points to any of the stats provides benefits to your character as well as whatever weapons you wield. This also allots to armor, having five different kinds: head, torso, arm, leg and foot. They come in different varieties, rarities and have stats that can improve the character. Some even come in sets and having all of the pieces provide numerous benefits but it all depends how you make your character.

You will need everything this game has to offer if you wish to survive. Nioh is a long game. It’ll take you approximately 20-30 hours and you’ll spend it completing various missions. There are three different kinds of missions: main, sub and twilight. Main focus on the story whereas Sub are devoted to providing you more experience and goods and Twilight are basically the same Main missions only harder. Main missions also have boss battles, requiring you to plan before striking. What makes this all work is that you have a hub menu to choose whatever mission you like. It’s the one thing I find that sets it apart from the Souls series. The hub is also used to access places like a shrine, blacksmith and even training grounds. Training grounds help you learn the basics and even challenge yourself against teachers in order to acquire new abilities. It’s perfect. Replay value in this game is high with exploration as you can find new gear and secrets such as kodama. Considering the game is having DLC with new missions will extend the length even more. You can also connect online and team up with other players in a PvE environment or take on others in PvP. It’s good but pray you don’t end up taking on someone who can kick your butt fast.

Nioh’s presentation is solid. It’s amazing to look at with the Japanese atmosphere, beautiful visuals and can be colorful depending on the area you visit. It does carry the dark omen in some areas and when you enter a Twilight Mission, the feeling of dread exudes all over. The game also has cutscenes that tell the story with voice acting to back it up. Surprisingly, Anjin’s the only character that is in English while the rest are in Japanese. Not that it’s a bad thing but it does fit the game’s atmosphere. Voice acting is great and the performances are well done. It’s impressive on all aspects. The music is awesome with an orchestrated feel especially in fights where you take on tough opponents. It’s exhilarating and a blast to listen to.

But though there are a lot of good things about Nioh, there are some minor issues. Yes, Nioh is a difficult game and the learning curve for it is strict, requiring a lot of practice, as well as trial and error. In some cases it’s luck based since the game can sometimes throw you for a loop & put you in a situation you can’t get out of. Thankfully you can always find ways around situations if you know the layout. Also the layout for your item box is a bit of a mess, made no better by the fact you don’t have an option to sort them all. Instead it slows down by having you scroll up or down until you find what you need. Nioh does let you search them via rarities but I feel a sort option would help. Since it shares elements with the Souls series, expect to die a lot. At least it isn’t as punishing. Plus the AI will ensure you go down, even if you are at a weaken state. Expect the unexpected.

It’s strange that a game that is brutal and challenging can be a lot of fun. Nioh perfectly fits this to a T with its superb gameplay, amazing visuals, great length and replay value, solid exploration as well as amazing music. The challenge is there and only those that have the skill to do it will persevere. Don’t let its difficulty fool you. Nioh is certainly a game that you want to have on your PS4 library. Team Ninja brought their own take on the Souls series. I can honestly say that it is very well done. If you have a PS4, get this game now. You won’t regret it.

I give Nioh a solid 9 out of 10. It is a must-own game for anyone that has a PS4 and earns my personal seal of approval.

Street Fighter V Review

Street Fighter V Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased my copy at full price for the sake of this review.

For almost 30 years, Street Fighter was the series that gave new life to the fighting game genre. Whether it’s the memorable characters, music or its tight gameplay, it brought us so much that fans still enjoy to this day. It’s previous entry Street Fighter IV provided so much, despite the game getting numerous updates and revisions. Last year, Capcom was ready to bring Street Fighter into the next gaming generation with Street Fighter V, released as a Sony exclusive for PS4 and PC. The question looms… does it deliver the same way SFIV had all those years ago or will this game crash and burn to the ground? Considering that it’s almost a year since the game’s release, I am going to be reviewing the game in its current state.

The Street Fighter series has never been known for it’ story. This game’s no exception. The story is split between “Character Story” and the Cinematic Story that was released in June as a free update. But to summarize, M. Bison of Shadaloo enacts his plan for world domination and he does so with the Black Moons. Now several groups are gathering to put a stop to Bison’s plans but many may be having plans of their own. The story is pretty predictable, your traditional “stop the bad guy before they take over the world” thing. Nothing fancy. Considering that this is set in-between Street Fighter IV and III, it does explain certain events that we would see in later games. The character story mode however consist of short segments that last 6-10 minutes but provide a bit of exposition for all the characters involved. They’re harmless fun but at least you get an idea of what the characters are and their motivations.

Street Fighter V doesn’t offer much in terms of content. Later updates did include modes like Challenges but when it was first released, the game provided little. It makes the game feel barebones. I find it disappointing. Many other fighting games like Mortal Kombat, Tekken and Smash Bros. offer a lot of content and variety at full price and the most important thing is having content for people that just want to pick up and play. To see that it doesn’t have that is upsetting and will only drive consumers away. I am aware that the game was released for the competitive crowd but unless there’s something for casuals, it’ll be a failure from the get go. There is online play but when it was first released, it had numerous server issues that hindered the experience. They did fix it eventually but overall, Street Fighter V is barebones on release and to this day, it still is. Capcom dropped the ball and they should have put a bit more time in refining the game to make it complete.

Despite the negatives, Street Fighter V is great in terms of graphics and gameplay. The game looks amazing, a step up from Street Fighter IV. From a design standpoint, it’s well done. The character models are better but for some reason, they seem a bit too muscular. All the stages are vibrant and colorful, backing it up with music. SFV’s high point also includes the music. The music is very good and some tracks are real addicting to listen to. Thankfully you have the option to switch between stage and character music so that’s a plus.

If you’ve played a previous Street Fighter game then you’ll feel right at home. The controls are the same but there are a few noticeable changes. For starters, everyone has a Critical Art, a V-Trigger and V-Reversal. They are the game’s main gimmicks. Each character has a specific V-Trigger and Reversal ability that sets them apart from the others. They depend on the character and can make matches pretty intense. I can say that Capcom did do a good job at making the controls easier for newcomers but can also be challenging for competitive players. Compared to Street Fighter IV’s battle system, this is a bit easier. Though I wish that the game could allow players to choose from a variety of V-Trigger/Reversal and Critical Arts. It can add more to the game and its characters.

I mentioned earlier that this game offers too few content but then they decide to include micro transactions. They can be obtained either by using real money or Fight Money, Street Fighter V’s currency and consists of alternate costumes, color palettes, stages and characters that would come as DLC. If that isn’t enough, Capcom has the gall to include a season pass… in a $60 full price game that offers barebones content. Just no. It’s unacceptable. If it were like Street Fighter IV then it would be okay but not here. I don’t accept it and even now that the place has been reduced to $30, it still isn’t enough. Had Capcom put more time and released it later down the line with more characters and modes, it would be better. But sadly it shot them in the foot and they paid the price for it.

Capcom may have dropped the ball big with Street Fighter V but it shouldn’t hinder anyone from taking the time to enjoy it. The presentation and gameplay are its high points but they can only last so long with its lack of content. Yes the game was released to please the competitive crowd and an audience is there for it but they did it at the expense of the casual crowd. Regardless, Street Fighter V is a well-designed game that anyone can enjoy… if only it could provide more for your money’s worth.

Had I reviewed this game when it was first released, my rating for it would be less than what it should deserve. For the time being, I give Street Fighter V a 6 out of 10.

Gravity Rush Remastered Review

Gravity Rush Remastered Review

Written by Jose Vega

NOTE: I imported my copy from Play-Asia.

In 2012, Gravity Rush was released for the PlayStation Vita. Back then it was well received for its presentation, gameplay aesthetics and taking full advantage of the handheld’s capabilities. While it did attract a following, it didn’t sell well enough due to Sony’s lack of support for the handheld. Four years have passed and fans were asking to see if there would be a sequel. They got their wish last year with the announcement of Gravity Rush 2 as well as an updated version of the first one, titled Gravity Rush Remastered. Now on a more powerful console, does this game hold itself well or has its weight come crashing down?

Story

If you are familiar with Gravity Rush then the plot is straightforward. The game takes place in the floating city of Heskeville. You play the role of Kat, a young girl with amnesia. She then meets a strange cat that gives her the power to control gravity. Kat uses these powers to protect the city and its people from many threats ranging from the gravity storm to a strange band of monsters called the Nevi who plague the city. At the same time, Kat learns more about her home, her powers and ultimately her origins.

For a story, it’s pretty simple. I have no complaints with it and it’s told between cutscenes, text between characters and pictures. The pictures are done similar to a comic book, moving in many directions and giving it a unique style. I like it. It’s pretty good and the music also adds atmosphere. It has some moments that can shock you, surprise you and makes you want more.

Gameplay

Now if you’re looking for something complex, it isn’t here. The game is a mix between action adventure, open world and platforming. Of course it isn’t a game unless you have ways to defend yourself. This game has plenty and there are many ways how to do it. They can range from physical combat to even using gravity to lob objects at foes from a distance. But it’s not just limited to the ground. You can take the fight anywhere, as enemies will attack you from all sides. This is where the gravity aspect kicks in. Kat is a Shifter, someone who can shift and use gravity. Her powers allow her to move anywhere depending on where you want her to go. It’s also used to attack airborne enemies and most can go down fast. Heck with gravity, she can slide adding a means of fast movement you can use to travel around. She also can stick to walls and ceilings with no problem, adding not only a layer of depth to combat but to exploration as well. Bear in mind however that all of this comes with a price, her gravity gauge. Using all of her gravity skills take up energy and if you run out, she has no choice but to fall down. It refills over time so make sure you use your powers with care.

Of course the game gives you the option to strengthen Kat and you do it with Precious Gems. They are the currency for the game and carry various uses, ranging from restoring Heskeville’s many areas to leveling up your character. Yes. This game has RPG elements. You use Precious Gems to level up your character in four different categories: Gravity Powers, Combat Powers, Core Powers and Special Attacks. Gravity Powers relate to moves involving gravity use, Combat Powers involve how strong your attacks can be, Core Powers relate to stuff such as increasing health, recovery time and shifting speed and Special Powers determine how strong your special attacks are. You start off with not much to use but the game’s end, you’ll see just how powerful Kat can be. I like that since you can be able to make Kat however you like but do bear in mind, if you want to survive, you have to get stronger.

All I’ve told you will be needed if you want to tackle this 10-12 hour campaign. In addition, this game also includes all the DLC that was released for the PlayStation Vita and they total an additional 2 hours. In short you’re getting more for your money’s worth. I say this because the game costs around $30. To me, that’s well worth it and I feel that anyone who buys that is going to get his or her money’s worth.

One of the most notable features that Gravity Rush Remastered has is that most of the stuff you can do on the Vita can now be done with a simple controller. Sure you can still move the DualShock 4 about while you gravity slide but personally it’s a good thing. Helps make things easier for people that didn’t like the controls on the Vita.

Design

I will say that the game looks absolutely amazing on the PlayStation 4. Sure, for its time on the PlayStation Vita, the graphics look well done. But when it’s brought onto the PS4, the graphics underwent a massive upgrade. It looks phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal! Made even better when the game is run at 60 FPS (frames per second). It truly Is something. There isn’t much in terms of flaws but I feel that the game is perfect. There is some voice acting but its better to watch what happens than having to hear it.

Not much to say since it’s basically a remastered port of a Vita game but hey, the guys behind it delivered and they should be praised.

Conclusion

It’s a rare thing where an updated version of a game does a lot better than the original port. Gravity Rush Remastered is proof of that. Amazing updated graphics, refined gameplay and improved controls help make the experience satisfying. That and at a $30 price tag is even more rewarding. Gravity Rush 2 is on the horizon so if anyone wants to prep up for when it comes out, this game is it. Gravity Rush Remastered is a must buy. You will be coming out happy.

I give Gravity Rush Remastered a 9 out of 10. It’s a must own.

Additional Notes
This review is long overdue as I was busy with other priorities. Fortunately I want to get them all out of the way so I can focus on what’s happening right now especially with the games that I hope to play and cover.

TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan Review

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan – A Review by Jose Vega

Bought my game digitally for this review… and personally regrets it.

This game is available for PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC.

Since the 1980s, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been a phenomenon that has changed the world and our way of life. Whether it is the comics or the cartoons, it is a franchise that many of us grew up on. With video games however, it’s sort of mixed. You have good games such as TMNT 4: Turtles in Time and TMNT Battle Nexus and bad games like Out of the Shadows. Now the reins of the heroes in a half shell are in the hands of Activision and Platinum Games. The question is will they be able to pull it off and deliver a game worth playing or are the four destined to end up in video game obscurity?

Let’s start with the story. The story involves Shredder and General Krang hatching a plot to invade Earth and take over. We never learn how they do it other than a cutscene in the beginning stating that everything’s ready. It’s up to the Turtles to stop the Shredder and Krang from succeeding. The story isn’t much to work with but it’s pretty barebones. You get various cutscenes of the Turtles dealing with many of the bad guys and eventually it all connects to their true plans. It’s straightforward but I wish it could be done better.

Mutants in Manhattan don’t pack much in terms of its content. All you have is a single player and online co-op. Regardless you trek through nine levels battling enemies and eventually a boss fight with a TMNT villain. Within each level, you have to complete objectives in order to fill up a blue gauge. You are graded by how quick you’re able to complete them. They can range from beating up enemies, carrying bombs to a portal, disarming bombs, destroying trucks, etc. Complete them fast and you’ll be rewarded with an S rank. You also get bonuses depending on which characters accomplished what and they can range too. It helps if you get lots of bonuses to boost your score so you can use the points to get supplies. Buying supplies such as pizzas, drinks, weapons cost points so you need to manage what’s best for you. At the end of every level, you take on a different boss. In some cases if you’re skilled in dealing damage, another boss will join in to make the fight difficult. That’s a secret boss and there is one per level. Some bosses can be challenging, requiring your skill to be at your best. There are also multiple difficulty settings that can either make things easier or harder. Beating it in Hard will unlock Very Hard mode and that can be even tougher.

As for the turtles, well they are very straightforward. Each of them is similar in terms of attacks and movement but what set them apart are their abilities. You have the option to customize their loadouts. Each character has access to four special moves as well as up to 3 charms. You start with one but once you beat the game in the harder settings, they’ll be unlocked. As you progress through the game, you’ll unlock special attacks that you can purchase with trainer points and afterwards you can level them up with trainer points to make them stronger. The higher the level, the stronger the attack and the less of a cooldown you’ll have to endure. Sometimes if two characters do a similar special move, they can do a co-op attack that can deal a lot of damage. Use it a lot if you want to make things better. Charms can also be enhanced to increase their effects or if you don’t like them, you can destroy them to obtain materials. Materials are needed to improve the effects so you are required to beat down enemies and bosses in order to acquire them. If you’re playing offline, the AI is acceptable with four different orders you can give the other turtles. They follow it to a T and its done very well.

I will say that design wise, many of the TMNT characters bear resemblance to the IDW comics and they did it very well. They were able to capture the feel of the comics brought to life in this game. Very good. The voice acting is strong and at times humorous thanks to Michaelangelo. The other VAs all did great and it was a high point I find to be satisfying. Very satisfying.

Although I see good things about this game, there are some things I didn’t like. For example, the game isn’t that long. You can beat it in roughly 3 ½ hours. I’m legit. The whole game can be beat in under 4 hours on Normal, with another few in the harder settings. It was a bit of a bummer because most other games tend to be longer and provide a lot more. Since it does have replayability in the form of higher difficulties, the leveling up system, who am I to complain? Another fault I find is that it’s repetitive. You basically button mash to beat down bad guys in order to fill up a gauge until its full and then you head for the boss fight. It’s just stale and boring, having to do the same thing over and over, in nine stages. That makes it unsatisfying especially if you have to get all the trophies. The game also doesn’t run at 60fps. It runs on 30. Why? I have little clue. Oh and there’s no offline co-op. That to me is disappointing because every other TMNT game I played has an offline co-op. Co-op is there but it’s online only of up to 4 players. I didn’t try it but I’m not really sure how it works. It is good that there’s online co-op but the fact that there’s no offline co-op really hurts the game. It does.

Overall, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan is an all right game. I will say that it’s fun they brought many villains from the show to beat up, good replayability, an interesting leveling system for attacks and online co-op. But its lack of offline co-op, repetitive gameplay and lack of variety kind of hurt the game. Made worse is that it’s short with nine stages, despite the fact that replay value is there for those who want it. Unfortunately I paid $50 for this game hoping that it would be a game that would be satisfying. It didn’t. No disrespect to Platinum Games because I love what they do but I think they kind of flopped it. If it was to tie in to the upcoming TMNT film, Out of the Shadows… well they didn’t do a good job. Better luck next time.

Activision… can I get my money back please? I would rather put it towards something better like Overwatch.

I give TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan a 6 out of 10.

Gravity Rush Remastered Eps. 6-10

Sorry if these updates are late but yeah… we got more Gravity Rush Remastered coming at you. I’m currently now rendering more episodes for you guys.

Gravtiry Rush Remastered Pts. 2-5

To be honest, I didn’t think this blog would still be hanging. But hey, I’m okay with it because truthfully I want to keep at it. So for your viewing pleasure, I present the next four episodes of Gravity Rush Remastered. Hope you enjoy.

Apologies if it is updated late because I have real life stuff to take care of.