The Average Gamer

Gravity Rush Review (PS Vita)

From the creator of first Silent Hill comes a open-world adventure game in which you play a girl called Kat who possesses the power to control gravity. Kat finds herself on the streets of a floating town called Hekseville accompanied by her only friend, a mysterious black cat called Dusty. From the moment Kat begins to bend gravity to her will a whole world of fun opens up. Even simple things like moving around the map became infinitely more entertaining.

It’s Floaty Light

Dr. Emmett Brown perfectly encapsulates Gravity Rush’s approach to travelling with his quote from the Back to the Future movie:

Gravity Rush - Kat Hanging Around

Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.

He’s right you know. You don’t need roads when you can fly everywhere. Pressing the R button magically makes Kat float in the air. Then tilting the Vita or moving the right analogue stick allows you to aim and if followed by another tap of the R button Kat will “fall” in that direction. Aim/fall at a building and Kat will stick to the walls and use them as if they were the pavement. When you press the L button, normal gravity is turned back on, sending Kat straight back to down to earth. Combining other moves like kicks or slides during zero gravity turns them into devastating attacks. My favourite one is the gravity kick, which has fallen straight out of a cheesy kung fu movie. Why kick the Nevi from the ground when you can fly through the air and kick them in the face? That is just way, way cooler (and also inflicts more damage).

Helpfully, Kat’s hair and scarf remain completely oblivious to her gravity bending powers. When you are upside down and walking around on the arse of a floating town with a bottomless abyss looming above (or should that be below?) orientation gets a little difficult. Using Kat’s hair I mostly stopped myself from standing on the wrong side of town – no pun intended – as I turned gravity back on. Ok, there were the odd moments of plummeting to my doom but thankfully I was always saved by a magical ball of plasma and plonked back on terra firma.

Like a baby bird learning to fly, my first steps in controlling gravity were a little clumsy. Accidentally turning on gravity while walking up the side of a building which resulted in an unceremonious crash landing on the pavement and several scared-to-death pedestrians. But aided by the knowledge that Kat was one super-tough cookie I was undeterred and began throwing myself off the tops of buildings to see what my powers could really do.

The freedom that comes with the whole gravity mechanic is really intoxicating. After a while, I would think nothing of falling for hundreds of feet off a building/sky train or giant monster only to stop perfectly in mid-air to collect some gems before flying off and gravity kicking a Nevi right in its glowy balls and never once touching the ground.

We’re not in Kansas anymore

The wonderful cel-shaded world of Hekseville looks like an amalgamation of the brilliant The City of Lost Children and Howl’s Moving Castle films. It’s a beautiful place to explore – full of people, industry and gems to find. Not since the first Assassin’s Creed back in 2007 have a felt such a sense of freedom in a videogame. From the very get-go you are free to roam around the map as you please.
Gravity Rush - Map
The game is built around missions. There are 20 story missions to complete, which progressively open-up other districts of the town to explore. These missions mainly involve battling the powerful Nevi forces, finding items, helping the townsfolk and meeting another gravity shifter! There are challenge missions as well but these are optional, although they do earn you valuable gems if you kill enough Nevi within various time limits or save enough humans etc. There’s even some DLC missions to come.

The bulk of the plot is delivered via a series beautiful anime/comic cut-scenes. You can also adjust the way the comic is viewed by tilting the Vita. It’s a nice little touch that kept me entertained, probably more than it should have. Even the pause screen is a comic which reflects your current situation in a series of cells. It’s all brilliantly done.

The game also rewarded me for exploring every nook and cranny in town. Using the classic game mechanic of collecting scattered gems to spend on abilities – split into core, combat, gravity and special powers in Kat’s case, I was quickly able to develop Kat’s gravity controlling prowess. Gravity Rush has none of that incessant nagging from NPCs or telling you to hurry up all the time that blights games like Gears of War 3 or Uncharted 3. Instead Gravity Rush leaves you alone to explore the world. I like that.

Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away?

It’s also refreshing to play a game that features a well written, strong female lead who’s not utterly dumb and/or just a male wet dream. On several occasions Kat’s dry, insightful and sarcastic responses to the banal responses from some slightly dodgy male characters, made me laugh. Even the moggie raised a few chuckles through some expert use of its three word vocabulary – prrr, mew and Pfffft!
Gravity Rush - Travelling
For untold hours, I was in gaming heaven, exploring and solving puzzles with Dusty at my side. And then the boss battles started to appear. Now I’m not a big fan of boss battles at the best of times especially the ones with re-spawning enemies and the never-ending fights involving multiple incarnations of one boss. Well, Gravity Rush has all of those. While it doesn’t stop me from wholeheartedly recommending the game the amount of frustration these battles generate does take some of the shine off it.

Gravity Rush is a spectacular game. It boasts some stunning visuals, a funny and compelling female lead character and is packed full of gravity controlling fun. The frustrating boss battles are an unwelcome part of an otherwise faultless experience. Gravity Rush is a game that should be in every PS Vita’s owner’s collection.

Gravity Rush is released on the 13th June 2012 for PS Vita and is out now in Japan under the name Gravity Daze.

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