Review: Gravity Rush (PS Vita)
Rating: Teen (T)
Genre: 3D Platformer
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Japan Studio
Release Date: June 12, 2012
Before Gravity Rush, I never would have thought gravity manipulation was a useful superpower, but after playing this game, I think it is pretty awesome.
The game starts as you wake up in Hekesville and our protagonist doesn’t know who she is or how she got there. She notices a strange looking cat that gives her the power to control gravity. Upon doing some missions, Syd, her cop friend, gives her the name Kat simply because of her power giving feline friend, Dusty. When Kat fell, Nevi started showing up and giving the city some serious problems. This sets up the story for Gravity Rush.
The game is set up as your typical superhero-origin-type story. The cut scenes are in comic book form adding to the superhero atmosphere of the game. Some of Kat’s missions don’t seem to add to the overarching story of saving the city, because she is helping individual citizens, but Japan Studio did a nice job tying in those missions later in the game.
I enjoyed the dialogue in the game especially Kat’s inside thoughts, simply because half the time I was thinking the same thing. Kat is young and has the same thought process as a teenage girl. Her whims, actions and thoughts, characterize her well, even if you do not learn a lot of her personal story in the game, though you do get a great sense of her personality. In a couple missions, she thought she was going to meet a guy, but that didn’t work out either time, however it showed how her teenage thoughts can derail her from the important things. At the end of missions, a future wiser Kat tells you why that episode was important to who she becomes. It is subtle, but it adds a sense that you are learning along with present Kat and becoming the woman that is telling the story.
While the story is enjoyable what really sets this game apart are the mechanics. The shoulder buttons are used to manipulate gravity. Kat has a gauge that depletes while in gravity mode, and when it is empty she falls in the direction of normal gravity. Luckily, if that happens over a gravity storm she is transported back to town, or if you are in a mission to the last checkpoint. Actually, during one boss fight I purposefully fell into the storm to avoid getting hit. The only time it is a true game over is if she dies, which since the game is not that hard does not happen often.
The Nevi each have a weak spot and unless you hit that small glowing circle somewhere on their body, you do no damage. Most of the time hitting those spots requires you to gravity kick from above or below. Not until later in the game are they difficult to hit, but only because the Nevi become more mobile and dodge your attacks. When you do land an attack Kat flips in a direction often leaving the camera in a different orientation than before. This sometimes makes it hard to see enemies attacking you off-screen before you can dodge attacks. Dodging is disjointed. One of the few Vita functionalities the game uses is the touch screen. To dodge the player must swipe the touch screen, causing the hands to leave its natural position. I’m not usually a huge fan of the back track pad, but in this situation I would rather use that to dodge than the front touch.
To level up abilities you must collect gems scattered around the city. This is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game. Shifting from building to building, finding hordes of gems under the city is mindless addicting scavenger hunt. In between missions, I would spend a good amount of time just exploring the city and finding gems. Side missions are another way to get gems. These are simply challenges. After fixing parts of the city, you unlock them and if you get a least third you win some gems. These challenges are optional, but some people enjoying racing around the city, or trying to defeat as many Nevi as possible. Personally it isn’t my cup of tea, but it adds a reason to play after finishing the main storyline.
Hekesville is beautiful. The art style is stunning, and the game an absolute joy to play. Gravity Rush is a must buy for anyone who has the PlayStation Vita. Seriously, go buy it now.