With little “you must play this or you must die a horrible death” games on the PS Vita I would forgive you to think Gravity rush, which is a gravity (go figure) focused action adventure game, would be a game to miss. However, there is far more to this game that gave me a different, yet wonderful experience on the Vita.
You start this game as a women (wearing very revealing Japanese style clothing) called Kat who has lost her memory and seems to be in a floating town called Hekseville. She bumps into a weird black cat who gives her the ability to shift gravity, which is the main mechanic in the game, and the two of you go world saving by trying to find out why there is a gravity storm in the sky. Along with the gravity storm in the sky a species has appeared, called the Nevi, and they are hell bent on taking you out. The story sounds interesting and could have a lot of mystery to it but the execution of the story is poorly down. The developers went for a subtitle driven story which works at times and has this level of charm but severely fails when you are in combat. There were times when I couldn’t read the subtitles because I was too busy doing something else. Another issue with subtitles is it does drag the game out. There are times where reading can become a chore when all you want to do is play the game. I know I sound like a child being told to put down his Lego and do the washing up but I did just want to skip the subtitles and move on to the next mission. The major concern with the story is they have clearly gone with a Lost direction and decided to leave more questions unanswered than ones they have answered. The game clearly sets up for future instalments but you do feel a little cheated and confused when it gets to the end.
The story isn’t all that bad though. The characters are well designed and actually show so likable side to them. What really works well though is the story has an adorable feel to it despite it having darker themes. This is really achieved by clever directing and the cel-shaded visuals. The cel-shaded visuals really fit with the style of the story. It’s not a bad looking game either. The cut scenes have a very graphic novel feeling which works well with subtitle storytelling. Despite limiting acting and dialogue, they are also very engaging and it adds to the games charm. Here the characters’ personalities really shine. Each character feels vastly different from the next and they all seem to have an interesting backstory to support their personality.
The game’s score is superb. The score really compliments the tense parts and the more charming parts of the game. It isn’t one of those soundtracks that is totally in your face but it is quietly in the background giving each location a different vibe. The attack move sounds are less impressive but still do the job adequately.
The main mechanic of this game is gravity shifting. The way it works is it creates an invisible bubble around you and you just fall in certain direction. It works very well and really fits well on the Vita because you can twist and turn with Vita in your hands. It’s just a joy to zip around the immensely detailed world. Despite this mechanic working well the camera seems to work against you. At times it feels clunky and at first you will get a little bit disorientated but after awhile you get used to. Gravity shifting isn’t the only arsenal at your disposal. There is the ability to throw item, fall at a much faster rate, sliding, special attack abilities and much more stuff that can be upgraded with purple diamonds which are scattered around the world. Upgrading becomes a must later on in the game but you soon realise that to finish the game only a few abilities really need upgrading. It’s a poor design choice as you get most of the abilities quite early on in the game, so you end up using a set routine of moves for a large portion of the game.
There is no competitive online mode as such and the online mode is limited to side mission leaderboards. These side missions are not varied but still fun to play. These consist of brawls, gravity related tasks, races…..that really aren’t that challenging to complete but are challenging to get a good score.
All in all this game has its problems (story issues and camera related issues) but I really enjoyed this game. The score is just sublime, the characters are interesting and the art direction really fits with the, dare I say it, cute storytelling. I have played a number of games on the PS Vita and I have only recommended one game (LBP Vita) that “you must play this or you must die a horrible death”. I can now add another game. Yes it has its problems but it was just a wonderful experience that I couldn’t put down