Gravity Crash Review

By Jeremy Zoss - Posted Dec 11, 2009

Retro-flavored Gravity Crash looks like Asteroids or Robotron, but you'll battle the pull of gravity just as much as space aliens or enemy turrets. It's a game with sleek presentation, but it's rather brutal. Consider yourself warned.

The Pros
  • Slick vector graphics
  • Lots of content for the price
  • Easy to use level creator
The Cons
  • Often frustrating
  • Old-school shallowness
  • Many unimaginative levels

With its vector graphics and dual-analog control, you may expect Gravity Crash to be yet another Geometry Wars clone. It’s not. This retro throwback takes its cues from Thrust and Choplifter more than Asteroids and Robotron.

Gravity Crash

The Wayback Machine

There has been a definite revival of old school arcade-style games in recent years, many of which have embraced both the quarter-eating challenge and retro visuals of yesteryear. Gravity Crash is the latest in the long line of these throwback games, but fortunately it borrows from different classic arcade games than most of its peers.

As a small spacecraft, your goal in Gravity Crash is to navigate maps in search of objectives to either collect or destroy. There are gems to pick up, crew members to rescue and enemy buildings to destroy. Along your way through these maps, you’ll encounter resistance in the form of ships, aliens and turrets, but as the name suggests, your real opponent in this game is gravity itself.

This is an advertisement - This story continues below

It’s Not The Fall, It’s The Landing

Each level takes place around a different planet, and the pull of gravity constantly tugs your ship downwards towards rocky death. Battling gravity is simple in theory – you just need to fire your thrusters in the direction you’re falling to counteract it. However, it quickly becomes clear that this is where the bulk of Gravity Crash’s challenge lies: scrape so much as a pixel against anything and you explode. With rocky, mazelike levels, hostile enemies, environmental hazards, collectibles to watch out for and fuel usage to manage, it’s harder than it sounds. Crash three times and it’s game over. You can continue, but your level score will be wiped. Your ship is equipped with shields that can be triggered manually or automatically, although each method has a tradeoff – choose manual, and they deplete and refill over time. Choose automatic and they’ll deploy on their own, but you’ll need to find crystals in the stage to refill them. Another type of crystal is required to keep your fuel levels up, so you’re always hunting for something just to stay in one piece.

Gravity Crash’s steep difficulty would be less aggravating if the levels were more interesting. However, gameplay doesn’t change much across the lengthy campaign. Most stages are back-tracking scavenger hunts that send you looking for objectives through vector-drawn areas that all look the same. Aside from a handful of fun boss fights, most levels just feel like more of the same. There are some clever ideas at play in some worlds (destroying power plants lowers force fields, triggering lava floods to destroy enemy bases), but they’re too few and far between to make the campaign truly addictive. Fortunately, Gravity Crash ships with a great level creator that allows players to use every concept that the Just Add Water team developed and share their created stages online. I have no doubt that gamers will come up with some truly fresh levels for this game.

Gravity Crash

Pro-Retro or Anti-Retro?

In the end, the amount of enjoyment you get out of Gravity Crash is going to be directly tied to how much you like old school gaming. If you enjoy a good challenge, you’ll probably dig Gravity Crash’s exacting, repetitious gameplay. There are two control schemes to choose from and multiple gameplay options, including campaign and Planet mode (which lets you replay unlocked levels to master them). There’s the aforementioned level creator and even multiplayer. But every mode still relies on that same classic arcade simplicity, so if you prefer the depth of more modern games, this one isn’t likely to speak much to you.