The simplest gameplay mechanics are always the best. In Gravity Rush it’s, as the name suggests, gravity. Being able to navigate your character through environments by changing the direction of gravity is a simple idea, but one that Gravity Rush takes and runs with. But can one idea really make the game worthwhile?
Gravity Rush is a third person adventure/action RPG that follows the adventures of Kat, an amnesiac (yes, that old story) who at the start of the game seems to fall from the sky before coming across a mysterious black cat. The cat, who she calls Dusty, allows her to control gravity, and thus leads her on an adventure to save the floating city of Hekesville from the Nevi menace. Kat meets a number of interesting characters on the way, with cut scenes presented in comic book like fashion, panels and all. In fact, the whole game looks delightful, a very Miyazaki-like style flowing from the character designs to the floating city.
As the main gameplay aspect, being able to navigate environments using gravity has to be a quick and painless experience. Thankfully it is. Pressing the R button allows Kat to float, then after aiming in the direction you want to travel another tap of the R button sends her flying in that direction. It soon becomes second nature and walking anywhere becomes a complete afterthought as you fly off skyward to your next objective. There is, however, a limit on how long you can use your gravity abilities before hurtling back to the ground. This is aided by the upgrade system. A huge array of purple gems are littered around the city, collect them and they can be used to upgrade everything from your health to the strength of your combat powers. And you will need to upgrade your attack because if there’s one blemish on this otherwise excellent package, it’s the combat.
Combat is basic at best, infuriating at worst. Each enemy Nevi you encounter will have a glowing red orb somewhere on their body. This, as you’d expect, is their weak point. Sometimes these can simply be kicked, other times they require cleverer use of your gravity powers. The problem arises from the camera. In the heat of battle, when you’re flying all over it’s easy to lose track of the enemy, as well as the ground. And although Kats hair will always flow towards the ground, chances are you’ve lost your bearings so much that there isn’t a ground to land on. Combat becomes infuriating during latter stages of the game when you’re overrun by so many Nevi, it taking so long for you to lock on your flying attacks, that before you know it you’ve been shot by a dozen red projectiles. Thankfully checkpoints are common.
It’s really a testament to the story and sense of adventure that you get from the world of Gravity Rush that the Vita wasn’t thrown down in a fit of rage. Navigating environments is an absolute joy and with each new area of the city that is discovered an array of new challenges and adventure awaits the player. And even once the game is complete an option to jump back in is given and it’s really hard to resist the allure of collecting more upgrades and replaying old missions. It’s just a shame the main story had to end so abruptly. It didn’t feel like long before a “point of no return” message appeared, with an ending that seemed a little rushed with a number of questions left unanswered.
Despite the shortcomings of the combat, Gravity Rush can still stand alongside some of the best games on the Vita. With its wonderful art style oozing character, it’s a game that once you start; it’s really hard to put down.