As the eternal debate of games being art rages on, Gravity Rush focuses on looking like art. While games are more than happy to have you languish in a perverse, gory world replete with blood, guns and boring, brown presentation, this one has you flying across a pastel-laced world that looks and feels like Japanese anime. It’s vivid, vibrant and endearing. Like most things anime, there’s a wacky premise, adorable characters and the all-but-obvious gorgeous art direction.
Gravity Rush has you in the role of Kat. She’s a gravity shifter which means she specialises in single-handedly destroying the work of Isaac Newton in totality and then some. In addition to this, Kat has lost her memory and has absolutely no recollection of how she landed up in the floating city of Hekseville. There are monsters to slay, a grand conspiracy to foil and, of course, an antagonist with similar powers to defeat.
Gravity taking over
The plot of Gravity Rush has enough to get you interested and keep you playing till the very end. It’s a nicely woven yarn that’s a joy to play through. Each chapter is bookended by some great looking comic book panels, which further add to the charm. Without spoiling much, by the time you get to the game’s final few chapters, you’re privy to a plot twist that leaves you wondering well after the closing credits.
Along the way, you’ll soon realise that moving across the city is a treat. Be it walking off a ledge or hurling into a building, it’s a lot of fun trawling through Hekseville thanks to Kat’s shameless disregard for gravity. There’s absolute freedom to manipulate the laws of physics. It’s a joyous affair to freely bound from one building to the next by simply walking across their walls. The experience is so liberating that it makes the parkour segments from Mirror’s Edge and Assassin’s Creed seem constrained.
Focus is on traversal and movement rather than combat
Almost anything and everything can be disturbed by controlling gravity. From a kid having an ice cream to dogs walking around, we haven’t had so much fun with such a degree of openness since 2008’s PS3-exclusive Infamous.
Most of the game has you exploring various parts of the city. At times, you’ll be able to re-unite parts of it, giving you more areas to blitz through. You can collect gems that you can use to either upgrade Kat’s skills or repair broken structures such as fountains and power lines, which go a long way in increasing Kat’s reputation among t he citizens o f Hekseville.
Minor niggles aside, this is by far the most interesting game on any format.
The game soon settles into a neat rhythm of exploration and combat. It never throws enemies at you as you’re flying around the streets of Hekseville. In fact, outside the story missions, you barely encounter any monsters at all. The sheer focus on delving through the city is admirable.
However, when you do encounter monsters – known as Nevi – there are a few moves to help you out. Aside from being able to normally kick them down, you can throw objects by generating a stasisfield, or hurl towards them, delivering a powerful gravity-propelled attack. As you progress, new offensive moves are available for use.
Let the “Rush” take over
By and large, the combat holds up well. It’s simplified and at times a tad frustrating, what with targeting bigger enemies being a chore. As long as you aren’t expecting to wage battle in the vein of God of War or Bayonetta, you’ll be just fine. There are several types of Nevi to defeat, such as the flying variety, the punching variety and those that appear at the end of each chapter as colossal bosses. All types of Nevi are destroyed when you hit the glowing red dot on them a few times. Yes, in a game this fresh, an age old trope makes a comeback, with the protagonist’s amnesia being another one.
It is important to note, though, that the primary focus of Gravity Rush appears to lie in traversal and movement rather than combat with exploration- heavy sequences and a multitude of quests that test your skills. These include traipsing from one part of Hekseville to another within a given time limit, so don’t go in expecting this to be a hack and slash adventure.
Surprisingly, whatever the mission, the controls are up to the task. Swiping the screen lets you dodge Nevi attacks, the R shoulder button lets you control gravity in addition to lifting things, and kicking is possible with the square button. For most of it, the camera is downright impeccable. Given the wealth of freedom the game gives you in terms of movement (you’ll find yourself upside down most of the time), we were hardpressed to think of an instance where we were let down.
We wish we could say the same for sliding. A little into the game you discover that Kat can slide by tapping the edges of the screen while tilting the Vita. It doesn’t always work, what with the accelerometer being too sensitive to allow you to navigate corners without getting stuck. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem if you could switch off motion controls altogether, which you can’t.
Minor niggles aside, this is by far the most interesting game on any format. Considering that most Japanese developers water down their content to suit Western tastes, it’s nice to see a game so unabashedly unconventional in terms of presentation, story telling and gameplay. The sheer boundless euphoria from flying around the city is reason enough to warrant a purchase.
A lot has been said on the state of the Vita. Be it the lack of great content or the absurdly high price, there are a lot of reasons not to get one. And then there is Gravity Rush. The combat may not be deep enough, the protagonist may not be a muscular male space marine and the format may not be the most popular, but as it stands, this is the game to get.
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