While the game isn’t perfect it has been one of my favorite experiences so far on the Vita
Gravity Rush is an action-role playing game mixed with an open world to explore. While this combination of genres isn’t anything new, the way you explore the world is. In Gravity Rush you take control of Kat who, after waking up in the floating city of Hekseville with amnesia, has the ability to control one of the fundamental forces of nature: gravity.
Before the gravity shifting even starts though, you will notice the beautiful world that is presented to you in the game’s opening. Gravity Rush has some of the best cel-shading I have seen in a game, and the environments really look beautiful on the Vita screen, especially when shifting over the towns of Hekseville. The game also employs a unique way of conveying the story. Most times the story and conversations are presented like a comic, where you can swipe the screen to advance to the next panel. These panels are well drawn and a lot of them also have depth that allows you to move the Vita around and change the focal point. This allows you to extend your view or see what is behind a character, which is a really interesting mechanic. For those that enjoy voice acting in their games they may be a little disappointed though. Not much of the story is voiced and what is, is in Japanese and subtitled. The game also has a really great and memorable soundtrack that fits well. Plenty of times I had the title screen and Pleajeune themes stuck in my mind once I put the game down.
Being able to control gravity factors into almost everything you do in the game and is fairly simple to control. With a quick press of the R button you will start to float, using the right stick or by tilting the vita you aim where you want to go and press R again and gravity is shifted and you will start “falling” in that direction. For most of the game this is your main travel mechanic and through it there is a wonderful sense of freedom knowing that anywhere you see you can get to quite easily. It is always great when your main travel mechanic is just plain fun to use. When shifting gravity you can sometimes get a tad bit disoriented and lose the direction you are supposed to be traveling. Fortunately most times you have a navigation marker on screen that shows where objectives/enemies are and if you suddenly find yourself totally lost and not sure which way is actually up you can easily tap down on the d-pad to reposition the camera upwards. One thing I was worried about when I started playing was with all the direction shifting going on would I sometimes end up taking damage from falling from high distances or banging into signs and such while traveling through the air, which would most likely lead to a lot of frustration. Thankfully as a gravity shifter Kat does not take any damage from these sorts of things, which leaves the emphasis on getting to your destination. Another mechanic that can be used for traveling is gravity sliding. You do this by putting both of your thumbs on the bottom left and right corners of the touch screen and tilting the Vita to steer. My first impressions of this was that is cumbersome to use and just not very effective. While not essential in many parts of the game, as I got used to controlling it I found it to be quite enjoyable to zoom across the ground…or a wall, or a ceiling.
When the dreaded Nevi (the games antagonists that are plaguing Hekseville) appear Kat has a few different tricks up her sleeve to take them down. While she does have a ground moves to take out the smaller enemies, most times you will be taking advantage of your gravity powers to take out the bad guys. By using the gravity slide Kat will automatically attack any enemies that you slide close to, which can be a good set-up to continue into a ground combo. While floating in the air she can do a gravity kick, where you fly through the air to kick enemies and increases in damage the more momentum you build before hitting them. She can also pick up any loose items like barrels and rocks using a gravity stasis field and chuck them at enemies, which is an easier way to take out quick flying Nevi. As you progress in the story Kat will also unlock three different special moves which can be deadly for taking down Nevi, but after using you must wait for your special to build up again. While the combat is enjoyable, I found myself relying too much on one move (the gravity kick) to take down most enemies and only really changing it up later on in the game when certain enemies would appear. Since most times you will be fighting in the air it would have been nice to have more then one standard move to use while floating to bring more diversity to air combat. Kat also has the ability to dodge out of the way of incoming attacks, both on the ground and while floating, that you need to swipe the touch screen to do. While I thought this would be awkward to use it is actually quite easy to quickly swipe in the direction with your thumb that you want to dodge and it became second nature later in the game when facing a lot of enemies at once.
Aside from being presented in a unique way, the story of the game is also done well. Almost all of the characters you meet on your adventure are likeable and memorable and the story missions are set up well to progress the story along and were entertaining to play through. The game also contains a few humorous scenes sprinkled throughout which are always nice to break up the more serious moments in the game. Although I did enjoy the story overall there is one thing that bothered me. About three quarters through the story a lot of new elements were introduced that are not resolved before the end, and pretty much ensures that there will be a sequel in the future. While more Gravity Rush isn’t a bad thing, I would have liked less unanswered questions to ponder before the next release.
Besides the well-done story missions there are also challenge missions that become available as you progress. These make good use of Kat’s different abilities and are generally a lot of fun and offer a good challenge. These consist of things such as taking out Nevi as quickly as possible, racing through checkpoints, or carrying citizens to a safe zone. Besides being a challenging diversion from the main game, you can earn a bronze, silver, or gold ranking for each. Beating each ranking will get you precious gems which are used to level up Kat’s abilities. Oddly though there is no way to restart a challenge once you are started, you must wait for it to be over or exit the mission all together. This can be annoying on some of the harder challenges, and a restart option in these missions would have been nice. While beating these missions is the most lucrative way to collect precious gems, these gems are also scattered in every nook and cranny throughout the city and shifting around collecting them is quite entertaining. These can be somewhere as easy to find as on top of a fountain or a bit more difficult like high in the sky or on the side of a building. It can be very addictive exploring everywhere for these gems and it’s easy to lose track of time searching for them.
When Gravity Rush was first announced it instantly became one of the games that I would be buying a Vita for. The cel-shaded graphical style combined with the comic book story presentation is fantastic and soaring through Hekseville is really enjoyable. This has also been one of the few Vita games where the touch/gyro controls feel right, rather then just being there to show off what the system can do. While the game isn’t perfect and some areas, like combat, could have been improved it has been one of my favorite experiences so far on the Vita.
A copy of this game was purchased for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Vita version of the game.
What I Like:
What I Dislike:
Developer:Project Siren, SCE Japan Studio
Release Date:February 2012, June 2012
Price:$35.99, £29.99/€34.99, ¥4900