June 19, 2012

Defying Gravity

Lasting First Impressions of Gravity Rush from Sony Computer Entertainment

Gravity Rush Boxart» Off in a small corner at the Sony Spring Showcase event back in May, was a little unassuming title I had never heard of called Gravity Rush.  I was handed a PS Vita with the game already running and given no instructions on how to play the game.  Needless to say, I was a little overwhelmed and confused over this title and went away from it not thinking much of it at all.  All I knew about this game was that the titular character could alter gravity around herself so she could walk on any surface no matter its location.  After that brief demo I was not impressed with the title at all so when I received a review of the game last week, I was both hesitant to try it again and and curious to see how the game fared going in right from the beginning.

Gravity Rush tells the story, through wonderful graphic novel panels, of Kat, a girl struggling to regain her lost memories in a world that seems to be falling apart before her very eyes.  With the aide of her newly found feline friend, Dusty, Kat gains the ability to manipulate gravity around her.  Using this new power, she must save herself and the city inhabitants from the terrible Gravity Storms ravaging the future metropolis of Hekesville.

Gravity Rush screenGravity Rush is visually stunning and looks and feels like I’m playing a Japanese Anime.  It’s no wonder, really as this title was developed by Sony’s Japan Studio.  Even the sparse vocal work in the game has been left in its original Japanese and supplemented with English subtitles.  While this may seem to cheapen the experience for the North American audience, I feel that it enforces the authenticity of the original anime environment.  Everything about Gravity Rush feels like it was lifted directly out of a Japanese cartoon and leaving that intact seems like the right thing to do.

Controlling gravity, while seemingly confusing when I first played the game, now seems like second nature now that I understand it.  Pressing the Right shoulder button “turns off” gravity and leaves Kat (and anyone unlucky enough to be around her) floating in anti-gravity.  From there, using either the right stick or by moving/tilting the PS Vita, you can aim wherever you want Kat to go.  Pressing the Right shoulder button again turns gravity back on and forces it to now travel in the direction you selected, whether that be a ceiling, or a wall or the sky itself.  Once these controls were understood, moving Kat around the city became like second nature and would actually feel like she was simply flying around.  Changing gravity’s direction, then changing it again mid-flight becomes quick and easy to do. Using the PS Vita’s gyro sensor to view the world while changing gravity really makes the game feel like a sort of virtual reality too.  While the right stick can be used to target, tiling the Vita felt much more natural and accurate.

Gravity Rush screen 1

Combat in Gravity Rush is simply a matter of pressing the square button to kick the enemy creatures.  Some enemies, however, will require Kat to attack them from the air.  Combining gravity powers with battle in a quick and fluid gesture will definitely take time and practice to truly master.

Gravity Rush surprised me even further as I soon discovered that it was not going to be a straight forward linear adventure. This is a thoroughly open world adventure complete with RPG elements and plenty of side quests and challenges to keep the player busy for hours on end.  Collecting gravity gems scattered around the world act as currently to upgrade Kat and her many abilities.  Not only is it fun and addictive to find all these gems, but upgrading Kat’s abilities really feel substantial and worth spending the gems on.

Gravity Rush has quickly gone from being a game I was ready to pass by to one I believe every PS Vita owner deserves to have in their collection.  I am hard pressed to find anything wrong with this game.  The controls are easy to understand, the music is light-hearted and hum-worthy, the game is visually appealing and the open world combined with the gravity-altering ability makes wandering-around-doing-nothing fun.

If you, like me, have found your PS Vita sitting around collecting dust due to the lackluster selection of games out there, it’s time to get it out and charge it up.  This is not a game you’ll want to miss.

Sony, I gave you an hour and I am undeniably IMPRESSED.

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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