|Game Name:||Gravity Rush|
|Developer(s):||SCE Japan Studio (Project Siren)|
|Genre(s):||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Release Date:||June 12, 2012|
|Big Ups:||Fun gameplay, good music, interesting story|
|Big Downs:||Obviously untapped potential, abrupt ending, many unexplained details in story|
PlayStation Vita has been waiting almost six months for a strong, original IP and Gravity Rush sweeps in to nab the spot. Japan Studio took their sweet time on releasing this baby, and it is well worth the wait. Strangely the approach to this game is hard to grasp. It would appear that writer, Naoko Sato, attempts to deliver a mind bending, multi-dimensional world but fails to fully elaborate on what the hell is going on. Regardless, the fine tuned gameplay rewards the player with a unique experience.
As the title implies, the gameplay centers on defying the law of gravity. Though its Japanese title, Gravity Daze, would probably have been more appropriate, the player should not only feel dazed but experience the exciting rush of manipulating gravity so freely. One would think that bending gravity to their will would get extremely complicated, but Japan Studio’s intuitive controls make it relatively simple. A simple button press activates Kat’s, the protagonist, basic gravity powers. However, when using the motion controls during gravity sliding (a move where, you guessed it, Kat uses her gravity powers to slide on any surface and requires the player to rotate their Vita left and right to steer Kat) can be hard to use. For the basic story portion of the game, this feature is not required but throughout the player can unlock challenges that require its usage. This makes achieving gold rankings unnecessarily difficult. Also, during flight, the motion controls alter the camera. The players brain should eventually compensate for the already shifting perspectives, but it would be nice if the motion camera control setting was separate from the rest. Interface wise, the game isn’t too complex. You have a health bar, a gauge for gravity usage that refills rapidly when not in gravity mode, and a tiny red gem that indicates when special abilities can be used.
Kat starts with limited gravity powers but through slight RPG elements, Kat gains gems by slaying enemies, completing challenges and collecting them throughout the city that allow the player to increase different stats that allow for abilities such as prolonged gravity usage or stronger attacks. Though the fighting mechanics are very basic, they never fail to excite especially as the game gradually introduces new types of Nevi, the primary foes Kat will face. I will admit, combat sequences are reduced to strings of gravity kicks, where Kat homes in on vital sections of an enemy as she flies headlong into them, but as simple as it sounds, the player is very much at risk of dying and must still aim carefully to land a solid hit. I would have much enjoyed to see a difficulty setting, but the game offers hidden enemies that make up for the lack of an overall challenge.
Gravity Rush’s story turns out to be very confusing. The game begins with Kat falling from the sky and waking up to an extra-dimensional being that takes the shape of a cat (wonder why she is called Kat?) and mysteriously gives Kat her powers. As like any other wonderfully “well-written” story, Kat is an amnesiac. An easy plot to grasp initially but by the end of the game leaves the player scratching their head and searching for answers. Though the game hints at an explanation throughout the plot, nothing ever comes close to being revealed and we can only speculate on the writer’s intentions. I would normally meet this kind of obscurity with open arms, but this feels excessive. The game has a huge potential for a strongly engaging and unique story by incorporating those curious laws of quantum physics but fails to follow through. Throughout the story, Kat meets many characters who each have a developed personality. She has her rival, Raven, who shares similar gravity powers and is followed by her own extra-dimensional being in the form of a *gasp* raven. She has a bizarre cast of enigmatic characters that seem to be some sort of deities. And finally, the militant force that cannot decide whether Kat and Raven are friends or foes to humanity. Wait, does this sound familiar? Yep, by the time you beat the game, it feels like you have played through a popular comic book. In fact, cutscenes are reduced to comic book-like frames. By far, I had high hopes for this story but was left craving more.
For the Vita, Gravity Rush looks great. At first the setting appears bland, but as more areas of the city open up, the player is exposed to a variety of locales. From minor nuances to huge set pieces, there never is a dull place. In fact, though it is easy to revert to sailing through the air to your next location, traveling by foot can be very rewarding. Not only will the player find hidden gems, they will also be treated to seeing intricate details the developers added to bring a subtle life to the city. The score adds personality to each of the locales. From the pensive and curious sounds of the starting area to the swanky tunes of the amusement district, it articulates the life of the environment. The exciting battle themes enrich the experience as well. All in all, the visuals and audio fit well with the rest of the game.
Overall, I enjoyed Gravity Rush. Certain features need to have options to enable or disable certain motion controls, but as I said before, luckily they are not needed to enjoy the game. With such an abrupt ending, I hope that later sequels (if we get any) elaborate further on events and characters of this game. However, what little is shown is intriguing nonetheless. Sadly, the game lacks content to keep a player actively engaged past the first playthrough. But luckily the fun gameplay and decently long story ensure that it is worth it.