A must own?
Billed originally as one of the must-own titles for the PlayStation Vita, Gravity Rush has been one of the main Vita titles on everybody’s radar since its announcement last year. Released in Japan back in February of this year, Gravity Rush is only now reaching other shores, with rave reviews following it from its native country, so after all this wait is it a must for Vita owners?
Welcome to Hekseville
You play as Kat. A young, vibrant, blonde-haired girl who awakes to find herself in the town of Hekseville, a strange town floating above a black abyss. Kat awakes with a severe case of amnesia, not knowing who or where she is. The story, be it rather lacking in depth, is portrayed through a nice usage of live-action comic panels that can be manipulated by using the gyroscopic capabilities of the Vita. The feature allows you to look at the panels in a variety of different angles, giving the screen a rather similar 3D effect as to that found in titles on the 3DS, although not true 3D. In addition to the well-presented comic panels, the game features small sections where characters talk in gameplay sequences or at the beginning of a mission. The language the characters speak is a made-up language that includes small French words and sayings and fits nicely with the rather steampunk-European feel of the game’s setting.
Kat finds herself accompanied by a mysterious cat when she first wakes up. The cat, which Kat aptly named ‘Dusty’ due to his irregular fur which seems to be decorated with swirling galaxies, has the ability to give Kat the power to manipulate gravity. A power she comes to realise whilst helping the quite needy and ungrateful folk of Hekseville. While there is an overarching story about the destruction of the world and a villain stealing powerful gravity gems that Kat must stop, Gravity Rush does well to skip over details and make the main story feel rather insignificant due to the repetitive missions for the townsfolk and people of Gravity Rush’s universe.
The “New gimmick” syndrome
The gameplay featured in Gravity Rush is refreshing and certainly intriguing, but it is hampered by niggly controls and the games’ insistence for you to use Vita specific controls. Like many Vita and 3DS titles before it, Gravity Rush suffers the same case of “use all gimmicks” syndrome as many handheld titles on the market today suffer from. Although the game doesn’t completely bombard you with the usage of the Vita features like games such as Uncharted: Golden Abyss do.
Kat’s ability to manipulate gravity allows you to flip her surrounding gravitational area and send her hurdling in any direction. She can walk up the side of buildings, stand underneath cliff faces and fall hundreds of feet, but grind herself to a quick and gracious stop before hitting the floor. It is certainly fun to play around with the manipulation aspects, but aiming Kat can be finicky and slow. You can use either the right stick or the gyroscope in the Vita. Many times I found myself moving the right stick whilst in-turn moving the Vita, which would then move the cursor away from where I had aimed Kat to fly with the stick. At times when you are required to quickly aim Kat in a direction, or stop mid-air and send her somewhere else the slow aiming can really hamper the feeling of pace you get from some of the game’s other sequences. The pace at which Kat moves in the air can be terribly disorientating and takes time to get use to, but the action feels good and sometimes desperate as you try your best to fly Kat at break-neck speeds across the world map.
The combat featured in the game is overall a let down. Don’t expect any Devil May Cry or Bayonetta-esque combos and combat. Gravity Rush opts for the simple option of one button usage for most of the game. With boring bland combos that require the same “mashing of the square button” and “touchscreen swipes to dodge” to beat all enemies. It isn’t bad, it’s just lacking and becomes a drag further on in the game. The game does feature an upgrade system where you can spend gems for more combos and combat options, although this doesn’t do much to strain away from just mashing the square button constantly as that works with almost everything. Kat has the ability to utilize her gravity powers and combine them with her powerful kicks, but this once again requires you to aim quickly and becomes an annoyance after the first couple of times. The enemies featured in Gravity Rush are the Nevi, a mysterious race of black monsters that have glowing pink weak points which you have to destroy to make them disappear. There isn’t much variety in the enemy types, but it is rather nice to beat down on many Nevi at once, gliding from one area to the other with the dodge system hitting weak-points as you go. Overall the combat system and sequences are by far the weakest parts of the game and can be a bit of an off put after a few hours.
Not what we originally anticipated
Gravity Rush is a nice experiment and a game full of wonderful ideas. The execution of these ideas is disappointing for a game that could have potentially been a system seller. It has a wonderful steampunk aesthetic and Kat is a quite lovable and memorable protagonist. As a game, Gravity Rush is fun and offers something different for players. It has its problems like many games do, but these problems come from the game trying to display the Vita specific features and controls. Gravity Rush didn’t quite turn out as great as it first looked, but it is still certainly a game most Vita owners will want in their collection.
A lovable protagonist and wonderful steampunk setting. Features some great sequences and displays some wonderful ideas.
Hampered by Vita specific controls and very bland combat. A rather empty and unimportant story.