The PlayStation Vita has only been out for a few months, and while we’ve seen a handful of decent games appear, many of them are ports of, or sequels to, existing titles. We’ve all been waiting for something brilliant and original to appear; something that justifies the purchase of our new handheld and takes advantage of the strengths of the system. Now, thanks to SCE Japan, we finally have that game.
Gravity Rush tells the story of a mysterious girl named Kat. At least, that’s what people call her, for she has no memory of her actual name, but seems to be accompanied by a strange feline. After awaking in the floating town of Hekseville, she quickly finds out that her kitty friend has bestowed awesome gravity-bending powers on her, which she can use to help those in trouble. Will she get to the bottom of this mystery and figure out what’s going on? That’s for you to discover….
The first thing that really struck me upon firing up the game were the graphics. Gravity Rush employs a wonderful cel-shaded look that gives the whole world a very comic-like feel. As you explore the large city, distant objects fade into sketchy lines, while nearby ones become detailed and colourful. This style is further solidified by the dialog sections – all done in comic panel form, with images that shift in a paralax sort of way as you move the Vita in your hands. It’s all very impressive and gives the title a unique feel.
Of course, the gravity powers are the star of the show here, and are all pulled off rather easily. The most basic move is achieved with a simple press of the R button, and makes Kat float in the air. By moving the right stick, or the entire system itself, you can decide which direction gravity should go. Pressing the button once more starts Kat “falling” in that direction, until you stop her in the air again or hit into something, such as building. While this move allows you run up walls and along ceilings, I found myself using it mainly to fly around the city – shooting up into the sky, then tumbling over the tops of the building below, before alighting on a nearby skyscraper and surveying the scene.
Other moves at your disposal include the gravity kick, which propels you through the air towards enemies, and the gravity slide, which allows you to skid along any surface, tilting the Vita left and right to steer. You can even capture nearby objects in your gravity field, transporting them around or hurling them at distant bad guys. As you advance through the levels, completing missions and collecting gems, you can power up these moves, making them stronger and faster. This adds even more incentive to beat challenges and discover hidden objects.
The whole title takes place in a large, open world environment, with story missions, dialog sections, and challenges dotted all over. Unfortunately, when you’re not engaging in one of the story missions, there’s not a lot of variety to the other tasks. You’ll be doing a lot of time trials and timed combat sections, attempting to beat certain scores and earn precious gems. One nice addition is the online leaderboards that accompany each of these challenges, and I’m sure if I had some PSN friends to compete with, I’d enjoy this aspect even more.
Even though the non-story missions may be repetitive, simply getting around the city is so enjoyable. I often found myself just flying around, searching for hidden gems on rooftops and underneath islands. I’d liken the experience to games such as Spiderman 2 and Crackdown, which may not have had the most inspired mission structure, but gave you such a thrill getting from point A to point B that you didn’t really care. Unlocking new moves as you go helps keep things fresh throughout, and there are even things such as bonus costumes to find (schoolgirl outfit FTW!).
Some may say that the combat is a little boring, and the movement disorientating, but it’s not long before you’re expertly shifting gravity this way and that, running along buildings, changing direction in midair, and barrelling down on enemies below. This is really what it all comes down to – the sheer enjoyment of playing and the thrill of doing it on a system so small. The fact is, we’ve not seen anything quite like this before, and while it may have similarities to games that came before, it’s definitely got a style of its own and provides some unique thrills never before experienced on a handheld console.
It seems that the PlayStation Vita has its first must play title. The visual style is awesome, the story is engaging, it makes great use of the various control inputs of the system, and it’s just so much fun! I can see myself continuing to play even after reaching the end of the story, powering up my character further and beating scores on the various challenges. In the words of Damon Albarn, “Gravity with me, never let me go, no no”. Well said, Damon, well said.