I’m in love with Gravity Rush. What’s not to love? This seemingly innocuous cutesy looking portable adventure has more heart and sincerity to it than almost every other game you’ll play this year put together. It’s pure fantasy. From its dreamlike ethereal Peter Pan stylized gameplay to its sumptuous expressive visual context, Gravity Rush is a sensuous joy from gorgeous beginning to beautiful abrupt end. It’s probably the PlayStation Vita’s best game and enough to make you want to think hard about actually going out and investing in the hardware if you haven’t done so already.
You play Kat, one of the more mysterious protagonists you’ll entertain this year, as she obliviously awakes within the belly of the floating city of Hekeseville alongside her feline sidekick Dusty. You have no idea who she is or what she’s doing in the city, but one thing becomes apparent from the get go, Kat has an incredible power and as such, she quickly becomes something of an unlikely superhero. Her power, the ability to manipulate gravity, serves as the game’s defining mechanic. Yes, you can walk and run from point A to B, but Kat’s unique abilities allow her to literally glide through the air and around the city, defying the direction of her gravity with ease. She can ascend walls, walk upside down on ceilings and pretty much contort gravity as she sees fit. It works because it’s simple. It’s as much flying as it is falling gracefully. But more than anything, it’s a beautiful expression of freedom, of vulnerability and of grace.
What binds this world together are the intoxicating cel-shaded visuals. They compliment the pacing and impetus of the game’s gravity mechanic to perfection. Everything is subtle and is at ease with itself. Even though you feel like you’re pushing the game for all it has, it retains a surprising level of fluidity without. The animations and characterisation for Kat and the inhabitants of this world are equally beautiful; everything feels like it belongs to this place, a drifting gothic metropolis that’s brimful of genuine folk never overwhelmed by Kat, her powers or the great threat posed by the game’s main antagonists the Nevi. The Nevi themselves are like something out of a Studio Ghibli feature length, thick black mobile blobs that threaten the positive spirit if this otherwise seemingly peaceful place. They are the very antithesis of this colourful cosy place and as such, make for a clever and suitably alien nemesis. You’ll take great pleasure in dispatching pain upon this alien poison, there’s no good in them. The story is told through any number of stunning visual comic book styled strips. The Vita’s 5inch OLED screen was made for stuff like this. They’re wonderful.
Combat is quite limited to nothing more than punch and kick combos for the most part, however this can be dished out on foot or while hovering above your enemy while you manipulate gravity. As such, combat relies heavily on whether or not you have managed to master the multi-directional floating and flying mechanics. If you haven’t, then you might come up stuck and a little frustrated when fighting or attempting mid-air flying kicks, particularly towards the end of the main storyline. You’ll find yourself flying past enemy weak spots instead of into them and having to land, re-float and then fly backwards again in order to go forward once more to hit the enemy. It’s a tad frustrating and there’s a definite learning curve but once you have it down, you’ll find yourself landing mid air attacks from any range and any distance with perfectly satisfying offensive results. It can be tough, particularly when there’s a half dozen or enemies to kill at the one time, but it’s not that much of a problem, at least, don’t allow it to become a problem. Take it on the chin, don’t allow these niggles to take from the beautiful charm of what is undoubtedly a novel, albeit flawed fighting mechanic. The game’s use of Vita’s unique functionality isn’t as total as you would expect, but what is used is used well, particularly in relation to the camera and aiming your course of gravity.
There’s plenty to do and see in Hekeseville alongside the main campaign. Kat can undertake side quests and help local authorities and citizens with problems they need solving. There’s also a wealth of collectibles to locate, namely the bright pink gems that can be cashed in for enhanced powers. There’s plenty to do and see and it will take you more than the initial ten odd hour single player campaign to get through it all. It should be said that the ending comes quick, is fightfully abrupt and will almost certainly leave many unsatisfied and wanting more. There’s a lot of unanswered questions in the end. Going back and completing side missions and extra quests won’t exactly answer them for you either.
Gravity Rush is such a refreshing and charming title and perfectly compliments your new PlayStation Vita. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever played before and is as inventive and entertaining as it is wonderfully captivating. The magnificent gravity mechanic, coupled with the loveable cast and their beautiful open world surroundings, make Gravity Rush one of the best adventures you’ll take on any piece of hardware this year. Buy it.
TGL SCORE: 9/10
Format: PlayStation Vita
Release Date: June 12th
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment Japan