Gravity Rush is considered one of the ‘big killer apps’ of the Vita’s launch window. It was a little late coming to the West, but now that it’s here, is it worthy to be called the Vita’s killer app?
In Gravity Rush you play as Kat, a girl who lands in the town of Hekseville. She starts up with the sad cliché of amnesia, but finds she can shift gravity through a strange shimmering cat called Dusty. You meet many other characters along the way, all strange people, but they play well off Kat. The town of Hekseville is really another character in the game, and it’s a gorgeous place to gravity shift around. Sort of like Cloud City by way of Paris and London with a bit of Steampunk thrown in. One of the main goals of the game is to re-assemble the city as well, as it has been torn apart by gravity storms, and an enemies in the game, the Nevi, along with a few others.
The story actually is pretty interesting and there are a few interesting changes of scenery. It is a bit strange but it feels like a big adventure, and Kat is really likeable and pulls you along till the end.
This is really where Gravity Rush takes the cake, it does something actually unique. The gravity shifting gameplay is something truly innovative, and the strange thing is that it works, really well. As a way to get around it’s quick and intuitive, and there are some interesting uses with puzzle solving. Seeing that this is an open world game this was certainly the most important thing they had to get right to make this game great, and they succeeded with flying colours.
Combat doesn’t work quite as well, but even if the combat seems a bit clunky to start, as Kat upgrades her abilities and learns new ones, the combat gets deeper and deeper. The big omission in the combat is the lack of a lock on system. As you upgrade your abilities they start to home in on targets, but sometimes you’re stuck with certain enemies being out of comfortable reach, this can be a little frustrating.
There are a bunch of challenges as well scattered around the world, like races, saving citizens from Nevi, picking up and throwing objects with your gravity power (a very useful skill in combat actually), and they give you what you need to upgrade your skills, gems. This gem collecting that you can also do around the city becomes REALLY addictive, but it’s always fun. The main story missions can be a bit repetitive as well, as it’s usually a lot of killing Nevi, but I never really found it to be a chore.
This is another area where Gravity Rush stands out. The cell shaded effect looks amazing, and it’s really hard to tell if this game is a console release or a handheld. The art style is unique as well, and the music in the game is atmospheric but also playful and fun. Looking at the architecture in Hekseville shows amazing attention to detail, and the imagination needed for building this world shows some serious talent.
Animation on Kat is very well done as well. Looking at how her hair shifts with wind, gravity, and her regular movement is sometimes mesmerizing and its even used as a gameplay element to help you know where regular gravity is at all times. The city of Hekseville has many inhabitants as well that all have their own personalities it seems. Taking a moment to watch them up close shows the great work was done on their animations, sadly though you’ll be on roof tops for most of the game so there isn’t too much time spent on the ground interacting with them. So it might feel like it’s a little empty when it’s actually a living, breathing city.
The technical aspects sometimes show a few chinks in the armour, I’ve seen one real bug where you get stuck inside a building, which sort of killed about an hour of my progress. I’ve seen a few moments where the game stutters as well, but out of the 20+ hours of gameplay if you do everything, there might have been about three techincal hiccups (including the stuttering which had many enemies on screen).
Gravity Rush is not a perfect game, some of the missions are repetitive, and the combat can sometimes be a little tougher than it would have been with a targeting system. But what it does well it does almost better than any other game on the market, it shows us a new way to move in space with it’s innovative gravity mechanic.
The story is fun and feels like a grand adventure, and the presentation and sound are second to none in the industry. This is a great game, and something we’ve never seen before. That makes it my favourite game on the system (so far!).
A spectacular concept and game, that should be expanded and refined in a sequel.