When the PS Vita launch line up was unveiled one title stood out amongst the crowd over the others, Gravity Rush; however when Sony’s slab of beauty launched it was entirely absent from the proceedings. Finally though it’s landed very quietly onto the platform and it’s the secret weapon that the PS Vita really needed on launch to bring those home console thrills and spills to the palm of your hand.
It’s easy to think that the ability to control gravity would be a rather short lived gimmick, something used for a short puzzler that funnels you through different levels or rooms a la Portal 2; however SCE Japan Studio have given you an entire open world to explore, and fall through as you shift gravity 360 degrees around you. At first you’ll become confused with exactly how the gravity mechanic works, after all falling down towards your new point of gravity feels very much like flying instead of falling, and landing on the side of a building whilst the world below functions as normal means you’ll feel more like Spider-Man than than anything else. After a short amount of falling around the place though you’ll soon realise just how simple, yet incredible, this gameplay device is.
Gravity Rush‘s opening moments, and indeed the other large missions that follow you through on this surprisingly lengthy title all contain a rather impressive degree of spectacle, it’s safe to say that this is a very accomplished title. Those QTE moments you find in other action games, the ones that see you leaping up walls and fighting enemies on falling rocks, that’s exactly the type of combat and gameplay you’ll find here, and there isn’t a QTE in sight – well expect for a ‘touch here for finisher’ move on bosses. Combat in gameplay is also a mixture of utter gravitational confusion and pure joy as you utilise the power of momentum to smash enemy Nevi in the face, bum, and body – or as the game describes their eye’s, which are there weak spots. It may seem cliché that enemies and bosses all contain glowing weak spots, but they have been carefully implemented to create a natural looking enemy rather than a design with a weakness stapled on; they also really help in the more tense situations or distanced ones when you need to hone in on a target.
Kat, your character, also has other ways to use her gravitational powers besides falling through the air and sticking to buildings. There are three special moves you can pick up on your travels, all of which pack quite a punch when levelled up; she has the ability to pick up and throw nearby objects at enemies too – which really amounts to very little except in some of the rather enjoyable challenge missions dotted about Heskerville. You also have a useful Gravity Slide and Sliding Kick move that utilises the touchscreen and motion controls, and allows you to slide across any surface and kick whatever gets in your way; essentially Kat is one badass Gravity Queen – although as the game seems to love to point out, she is still just a cutesy girly girl at times too.
Whilst Gravity Rush‘s story is engaging and really does compel you to keep playing through it, breaking up what could become monotonus gameplay with novel ideas and inventive settings, the real enjoyment comes from deviating the narrative path and indulging in exploration. Every inch of the city has been designed to entice you into exploring it, from the highest points above ground, to the deepest sections below the city’s creaking steel, there are gems hidden on all maner of vertical and horizontal surfaces just waiting for you to nab them. These gems are essential for improving Kat’s latent abilities and for unlocking challenges that in turn give you more gems and increase the level to which Kat can be improved. Because these gems are so important you quickly become entranced in searching high and low for their beautiful purple glow, following a breadcrumb trail above and below the city.
Gravity Rush has been designed to look like a flowing comic in design, with fantastic cell shading and wonderful touch and motion interactive comic cutscenes between episodes too. This stylistic choice turns Heskerville into a city full of character, with it’s entertainment district oozing charm with it’s soft lighting and jazzy music it’s just a perfect place to explore and enjoy. There are times though when the grunt of the Vita is just not enough and the image quality drops slightly to compensate for all the explosions and action on screen, luckily though this isn’t often and is only very slight so it’s hardly an issue.
Sony made statements that suggested that the PS Vita would be home to games as big as the PS3, and whilst Resistance: Burning Skies was the first title to try and live up to that promise – it failed by the way – Gravity Rush has definitely lived up to Sony’s words. You can very easily imagine this transplanted onto PS3 and being absolutely sublime. With its perfect blend of open world exploration and a superb gravity shifting gameplay mechanic the PS Vita has gotten its killer app, any self-confessed gamer should be playing this title now.
Final Score: 4.5/5