After three delays and few worthy titles to fill the spaces, one of the most anticipated titles to be released on the PlayStation Vita is here at last. Gravity Rush is a very unique title developed by SCE, featuring full gravity manipulation and control through the Vita’s very effective hardware capabilities. Now that this gem of an action-adventure game is finally in our hands, does its unique gameplay mechanics, artistic personality, and other atypical features make it worth the extended wait?
Gravity Rush tells the story of Kat, a young blonde girl who wakes up in an unfamiliar place with a lot of her previous memories missing. Through the early stages of the game, she comes to terms with the ability to manipulate gravity, with the help of a cat she encountered nicknamed Dusty. The story’s successful use of medias res gives players a compelling need to find out what exactly is going on; who is Kat really, and why is she here?
The game unfolds with a free roaming overworld filled with side quests and challenges, combined with story mission markers to progress the story. With that said, Gravity Rush can be played at any pace you want, giving you the ability to spend as much time as you want trying to score gold in optional challenges, or collecting gems around the world.
The use of gems in the game adds various RPG elements to it, allowing you to spend the gems you collect on the various powers and abilities that Kat has access to. Increasing the level of your gravity gauge for example, means that it won’t run out as fast, so you’ll spend less and less time landing somewhere to recover. The game does not overcomplicate this system; in fact, it keeps it very simple. The sheer fun of flying around manipulating gravity at your command will have you spending plenty of time collecting gems anyway.
Gravity Rush utilizes a lot of the Vita’s gimmicky hardware options, like the gyroscope and touchscreen, but keeps a great balance between these and hardcore gameplay. In combat, the gyroscope can be used to aim at enemies, but I instantly found it to be inaccurate and generally annoying. Fortunately the game gave me the option to turn it off, and use only the right analog stick, which is really much more effective anyway. The gravity slide, another unique feature, is activated by holding down opposite ends of the touch screen, and using the gyroscope to control your direction. This was also quite messy at first, but after some practice, it was actually very easy and surprisingly fun to use. Because Gravity sliding is mostly an optional feature, hardcore gamers won’t be disappointed by hardware they may find gimmicky.
The game is also very beautiful, having the biggest artistic charm of a game I’ve seen on the Vita thus far. There are some points where textures can get a bit bogged down, especially in combat, but most of the time you’ll see plenty of pretty scenes. Accompanied by a catchy and very melodic soundtrack, this game will appeal to multiple senses.
It’s only when we get to combat that Gravity Rush gets a little messy. Enemies called the Nevi have specific weak points that are highlighted by glowing orb shapes on their bodies. In order to defeat them, Kat must target these spots and destroy them, causing the enemy to be eliminated as well. While early stages of the game can be played using some of Kat’s ground based attacks, enemies soon become bigger, and much more cumbersome to take down. Kat only has about 4 tricks, and when it comes to taking down a monster with 10 orbs on its back, she can really only utilize the gravity kick, which homes in on the orbs using a strong push of gravity.
Camera angles in particular can get very annoying when dealing with enemies, as you really have to focus on the target when you’re aiming. A slight stir or change in direction of the enemy causes you to completely miss them and go plummeting in the opposite direction. Thankfully, the game gives you arrows that point to your target when it is off-screen, calming some frustrations you may have. On the subject of these grueling enemies, the later chapters of the game do get very overwhelming, chastising some motivation to progress. Gravity Rush’s combat is far from terrible, but it should definitely be addressed if a sequel is to be made.
Gravity Rush is an amazing game, one that greatly lived up to my expectations. With few strong titles out there on the PlayStation Vita right now, and not many to look forward to, Gravity Rush’s unique gameplay, great visuals, and solid story really make it shine like a star. For that alone, I label it a must buy. You really won’t find any game out there like Gravity Rush, and what system better to showcase these qualities than the Vita? This game alone certainly won’t sell someone a PlayStation Vita, but it’s a good start towards building strong and original titles to entice potential buyers of the system.