I went in not really knowing what to expect with Gravity Rush. The short demo gave a look at gravity manipulation, which is the focus of the gameplay. It’s a fresh idea that could make for an exciting new IP, which is something the Vita desperately needs. Did it succeed? Well, yes and no.
The story of Gravity Rush follows the adventures of Kat, a girl suffering from amnesia who quickly realizes that she has the power to control gravity. The story is interesting take on the superhero origin archetype. Kat is stuck in a city where she knows no one and has powers she doesn’t know how to control. She takes this power, deciding to do good and gain acceptance from the city she now inhabits. It’s a heartwarming tale; Kat is a very endearing character, and I found myself caring about her and her mission. It’s rare for me to say that about a character that isn’t your typical badass, but Kat is such an earnestly decent character you have no choice but to like her.
The story feels like Studio Ghibli wrote it, as you get a lot of different stories in here. You’re presented with an origin story and stories of a corrupt government, lost children, a mysterious rival, and plenty more. The upside is that you get a story that’s full of things to do, and it does a lot to build the lore behind this world. However, you also get a central story that can change on a drop of a dime. This shifting focus can be irritating, as if the developers had so many ideas for the game and simply decided to do them all.
Gravity Rush’s ending may also leave a sour taste in people’s mouth. After giving you so many plot points and mysteries, it all ends very suddenly. I mean this quite literally — you hit the final boss for the last time, land, and roll credits, sadly leaving a lot of questions unanswered. I suppose they’re counting on a sequel, but I hate when anything does this.
Like the story, the controls are also a mixed bag. The good news is that a lot of the controls work well. Shifting gravity is fun and easy to control. On top of this, the use of gyroscope on the Vita to aim the shifts is a great move. The combat is still done with buttons, which is smart. A problem with some Vita games is when they put too much focus on touch and motion control, hurting how the games are played. Gravity Rush finds a healthy balance of button, touch, and motion controls that flow naturally. The touch controls will still take some practice, but after a while it works well.
As much fun as I was having controlling Kat, I did find the combat repetitive and one-dimensional. Along with kicking people on the floor, you also have a gravity kick, which is what I found myself doing most of the time. For almost all enemies, it was just non-stop going into the air, and gravity kicking. Its fun at first, but after twenty-one chapters you find yourself begging for something new.
I do have to applaud how much work went into the design of each level. Gravity Rush, at least when you’re not in a middle of a mission, is an open world for you to explore to collect gems, which are used for building up Kat and fixing areas of the city (this in turn increases how much you can level up your stats). This proves to be great fun, and exploring the city never got old. I found myself searching the city all over to find gems and beef up Kat a little bit more.
What I loved about the levels is how often the designers changed it up a little to make the missions feel different. In one mission, for instance, my gravity powers were cut to ¼ strength. In another it was shut off completely, turning the level into a platformer. For one other mission the game was a straight up puzzle game. It made Gravity Rush feel different with each level, and had me wondering what would happen next.
Gravity Rush uses an anime art style that looks very pretty. I have to applaud how much work was put into the game’s aesthetics. It’s the little things that get you, like how Kat’s hair is always points to the ground to help you keep your bearings. It does pixilate a little bit, but it won’t pull you out of the experience. A lot of focus was also put into the music, which works well in Gravity Rush. The sad situations became more heartfelt, the boss fights felt like a big deal, and gave the levels a lot of personality.
Gravity Rush has a lot going for it, and could become a big franchise for Sony and the Vita. The story has a lot going on, Kat is an extremely likable protagonist, and is an overall fun experience. That being said, they still have some fine-tuning to do. There needs to be more air combat moves so that we’re not always fighting the same way over the course of an entire game. Also, either in a sequel or DLC, they need to take better care not to leave as many loose plot threads in the future. In either case, with Gravity Rush Sony has laid the groundwork for a potentially amazing character and IP.
FINAL GRADE: B+