Also available on: N/A
Developer: Japan Studio
If you were following the PlayStation Vita's Japanese launch, you'll probably have heard about Gravity Rush, albeit under the name Gravity Daze. Japan Studio's action-adventure rivalled Uncharted: Golden Abyss in terms of hype, and surpassed it in critical acclaim. Sony has finally brought the title over to the West, but does it live up to its glistening reputation?
Gravity Rush's premise is steeped in anime wackiness. A young girl named Kat awakens in a mysterious floating town called Hekseville with no memory. After an encounter with a black cat, she acquires the ability to manipulate gravity, a concept around
which the core mechanics are built.
As the title suggests, Gravity Rush's gameplay is built almost entirely around gravity manipulation, making it ambitious and innovative in equal measure. By controlling the direction of the gravitational pull, Kat can fly through the air, walk on walls and propel herself at enemies. The Vita's unique features are put to inventive use here, particularly the accelerometer and front-touch screen.
Moving, jumping, attacking and gravity manipulation are all tied to the analogue sticks, while screen swipes are employed for evasive action, and motion controls for aiming. Special abilities such as the Gravity Kick and Gravity Slide are pulled off through a combination of physical and motion controls. Both are a spectacle to behold, and rewarding when harnessed to their full effect, yet require patience to master.
Some of Kat's skills may have a steep learning curve, but Japan Studio has done a stellar job with the control scheme considering the physics involved, coupled with the fact that Gravity Rush began life as a PlayStation 3 title. It's a radical departure from anything else you've ever played on a handheld, yet executed well enough to inspire players to embrace every one of its whimsical mechanics.
Gameplay is mission-based, most of which involve zipping from A to B, fighting hordes of enemies followed by a boss fight. Combat feels a little rough around the edges. Landing a direct hit with some of Kat's more lavish abilities can be fiddly, and enemies aren't the sharpest tools in the Vita's shed (though tools is a good way of describing some of them).
Gravity Rush isn't just creative in the control stakes, it's also one of the best looking games on the Vita. The cel-shaded graphics are mesmerising, giving the title a Studio Ghibli-esque quality. It's the art design that makes it really stand out. Hekseville is an amalgamation of Victorian London and contemporary Tokyo, giving rise to a sense of wonder with a dash of unease. There are some minor framerate stutters, but these will go unnoticed when you're whizzing around from pillar to post.
The game's soundtrack goes hand-in-hand with its look and feel, combining upbeat jazz with uneasy orchestral numbers. Some pieces are overused and overstay their welcome, but overall it's a well-crafted score that serves as an essential component of Gravity Rush.
Gravity Rush is one of the most impressive titles to land on the Vita to date. It's rare to see a project with such lofty ambitions executed so well. The bold new mechanics are complemented by an engaging story, striking visuals and atmospheric soundtrack. If you were looking for an excuse to purchase the Sony handheld, look no further than this must-have gem.