Gravity Rush review
The Very Definition of 'Genre Buster'
- Innovative, inspired, and unique gameplay
- Likeable cast of characters
- An expansive, immersive world
- Beautiful cel-shaded graphics
- Interesting story
- AMAZING soundtrack
- Lots of replay value
- Combat tends to get slightly repititive
- Fairly short length
According to tvtropes, a genre buster "just does not fit into our usual map of genres". Gravity Rush, originally intended to be a launch title for the Vita, fits that description. In a good way.
Gravity Rush is a very strange game, if you couldn't already tell. It's not exactly a platformer, not exactly an RPG, not exactly an action game... It's really a mix of all of those elements mixed together. The same can be said for the fact that it's as if Super Mario Galaxy, VVVVVV, Katamari Damacy and inFAMOUS came together to make a baby and out came Gravity Rush.
Sorry, I digress. Gravity Rush is, in essence, an action-RPG with open world elements. It can easily be compared to inFAMOUS; both games feature a heroic figure with superpowers of some sort and over the course of the game they gain and upgrade their powers in an open world for them to explore.
Gravity Rush stars Kat, an amnesiac (with strange fashion sense!) who fell out of the sky and onto the even stranger town of Hekseville, a town situated on a huge pillar that stretches both downwards and upwards. The town is apparently plagued with gravity storms and strange, black masses called Nevi, both almost unexplained phenomenon. The game does indeed take its time to explain what these things are but I don't really want to spoil anything for you.
Concept art of the first district of the town you can explore.
The game, once again, takes place on Hekseville (although you can explore other areas later, but I'm not spoiling it!) The town consists of four unique districts; the aptly named 'Old Town' district, an entertainment district, an industrial district and the large downtown district. As you progress, you gain access to new districts, which is, again, much to the akin of other open world games, like inFAMOUS. Sorry if I keep comparing this game to inFAMOUS, Gravity Rush reminds me of it. A lot. Each district has its own set of characters residing within each, and each district is set uniquely apart from each other, so you never feel as if the locations in the game are repetitive. The only way to get from district to district is by public transit (i.e. Airships, Monorail) or through the sewers. You can't simply fly from district to district, otherwise the gravity storm will push you back to the mainland.
The characters all speak in horribly japanese-accent French. I don't know if there's a word for it. Engrish-french? But yes, the French almost sounds like its own language at times. Even if you have studied French in the past or if it's part of your native tongue, you won't be able to tell if it's French or not unless you REALLY listen. This isn't really a bad thing though; it makes it feel as if Hekseville is a very unique world with it's own unique language... In a sense. The world really gets you immersed and interested into it.
The game's cutscenes are either rendered with the in-game engine, or told in comic book style visuals, much to the likeness of inFAMO- Ouch! Why'd you hit me?! Anyways, the comic book style cutscenes can be viewed from different angles (quite literally) if you tilt your Vita around and you advance the slides with a swipe of the finger. Nothing too new, but if you ask me, these scenes really add to the game overall. The art is great and the way you can interact with each panel really immerses you into the cutscene; a great way to tell the story to the player.
Ah... Yes... How nice... Let me just tilt the system around to get a better vi... Oh, uh, hi dad... Uh, this? It's nothing. I swear!
Expect a tid-bit of fanservice here and there. Nothing too grotesque, just a few... er, shower scenes here and there. At least Sony Japanese Studios doesn't forget their roots!
Joining Kat is her Nevi companion, Dusty, shaped like a... cat. Heh, I see what you did there, Sony JPN. Dusty is basically the outlet for Kat's power, and sometimes, during the story, you'll get separated from him, thus removing your powers. As you progress, you meet different recurring oddball characters, including an old man and his grandson and Syd, a clumsy cop. There are obviously more characters Kat meets throughout her misadventures but once again, I don't want to spoil anything.
Onto the gameplay. You can manipulate gravity to fight, get around and complete objectives (which is Kat's 'superpower' of sorts). Pressing the 'R' button puts Kat into zero-grav, and another press of 'R' sends her flying in the direction she is facing. The controls may feel a bit strange at first, but it's easy to get used to them later on. If Kat lands on a wall or the ceiling, she will stay stuck to it, and can walk about on said surface, disobeying the laws of gravity. With the simple press of the 'L' button Kat will return to Issac Newton's world and land on the floor. This helps encourage many different ways to go about your missions; will you go on foot? Fly there? Perhaps walk on the side of buildings on your way?
Pressing the square button when Kat is grounded makes her kick, and pressing it consecutively will make her do a combo. Sliding your finger across the screen will make Kat dodge in said direction you swipe, and pressing square whilst doing so will let you do a counter attack. If Kat is in anti-grav and you press square, she will do a gravity kick in the direction she is facing. This move has really good tracking (as long as you aim correctly) and is forgiving even if you don't have the enemy in the exact center of the reticule, which is good seeing as how you can easily lose track of where you are. The farther from the enemy you are when you do it, the more damage it will do.
Gameplay screen of Kat floating in zero-grav in a combat scenario. As long as an enemy is within the red outer ring near the center of the screen and you do a gravity kick, it will hit. The enemy closest to the center obviously will have higher priority than one closer to the edge. This screen also gives you a good look at the game's unique art style.
Two last abilities of note; the stasis field and the gravity slide. With the stasis field, you can pick up objects (as long as they aren't imbedded to the floor or anything) and launch them with the press of the circle button. The gravity slide is done by holding down two fingers on the bottom two corners of the screen and tilting the Vita left and right to turn. The controls for this maneuver can feel a bit clunky at points, but it's just a matter of practicing and getting used to it. There are more abilities but I don't exactly want to get into each and every one of them. Unfortunately, because of the slightly small combat movepool Kat has, you'll most likely be restricted to simply gravity kicking over and over again. This might get grating to some people, but personally, it never wore on me. You can always use the stasis field to launch objects at the Nevi or simply kick them normally, but some of the enemies are flying and the gravity kick is basically the only way to deal with them.
There is a limit as to how much gravity abilities you can use, however. The blue ring on the above screenshot on the top left signifies your gravity meter. If it runs out, you will not be able to use your abilities It does recharge eventually, or if you pick up blue gems it will recharge instantly.
Speaking of gems, the game's upgrade system is centered around dark red gems. You can obtain these by wandering around town and by completing missions and/or challenges. These gems can obviously be used for upgrading your abilities, but they can also be used to restore the town's technology back to working order, which in turn, unlocks more side missions and increases Kat's reputation. As her reputation increases, you can upgrade your abilities even further.
The game consists of 21 main missions and 20 side missions. There are also some collectables and rare Nevi to kill which both give you trophies as long as you fulfill the prerequisites. The game caps at about 10 hours, 15 if you're going for the platinum trophy. Thankfully, the game has a lot of replay value to offer with the open world structure and the downloadable costumes.
The soundtrack. My god the soundtrack. It consists of techno-jazz swing music. Yeah, the way this game busts genres also applies to the music. I can't really explain it, really. It simply... fits to the nature and motifs of the game. You really need to listen to it yourself.
But yes, I can't praise this game any much more. I have the compulsive need to play now. In the process of writing this review, I had to restrain my hands and feet and was forced to type with my face. Despite the few flaws this game has, it can be forgived as this game was slightly rushed to release (and besides, the goods outright outweigh the bads). This game truly deserves a 9.5/10. Purchase digitally on PSN or in the store for a price of about $40.00. Personally, I'd buy this game for $100.00. That's how much it's worth to me.
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