With the distinct lack of system-sellers in the PlayStation Vita's launch lineup, fans have been clamoring for something that will sway the Vita into a must-have handheld. Gravity Rush is said to be the next Golden Egg for the system but it struggles to fulfill that promise due to the somewhat clunky and nauseating combat.
- The gravity changing mechanic is interesting and unique
- Kat is a genuinely relatable and funny character
- Beautiful art style
- Draw distance obscures relevant areas
- Combat can be somewhat clunky
Gravity Rush Review:
After falling from the sky and waking up with no recollection of her past life, our heartwarmingly relatable protagonist Kat finds herself befriending an unlikely companion: a mysterious sparkling cat named Dusty that gives her the ability to change how gravity affects her. She uses these powers to free the town from Nevi, dark red ooze monsters, that attack the town center and are her only connection to a series of mysterious events.
It isn’t exactly clear why all of this is happening at first, but it doesn’t seem to be good for the town of Hekseville, as it is being torn apart by a gravity storm of some kind. It isn’t clear what is causing these events to occur, but Kat believes that it has something to do with another mysterious shifter, Raven. Despite the story unfolding with mystery and developing intrigue, things don’t get too heavy. Moments are laughable and delightfully funny. There’s a constant dialogue unfolding between Kat and Dusty that really just serves as a way to remind us that Dusty is there, but comes across so lovingly as Dusty only meows back to Kat’s ramblings. It is a comforting reminder that you’ve always got your little buddy there with you.
Sections of the city around her are falling apart and are taken away by the raging gravity storm, yet despite the dire situation going on around her, Kat doesn’t really seem to have any sense of urgency about her actions. That’s not to say that she doesn’t care, but she’s in no rush to take control of the situation. It just adds even more to the developing easy-going nature of the amnesiac. She doesn’t remember who she is, so she really has all the time to discover who she is now and who she wants to become.
Paw to Advance
As she works her way through each of the story missions, trying to save the town that she has made her home, the townspeople start to change their negative opinion of her. Shifters aren’t exactly welcome, mostly because they use their power for evil, but her good deeds start to earn her their respect, improving her maximum statistics. These story missions are somewhat easy to plow your way through though, as they are the only real missions available. There are challenges scattered through the world that can be entered using gems found throughout the world, but they are generally short minigames that have no real purpose beyond bolstering your score on the leaderboards.
The main story missions provide a fairly solid story that I found to be quite enjoyable, if a bit open-ended. The main story clocked in right around 11 hours for me, but it could easily take longer if you took more time to soak in the atmosphere. Comic panel-style cutscenes help bridge the gap between story missions and do so in a cute and interesting manner, despite their lack of voiced dialogue.
While the gravity controls are quite simple once you get the hang of them, navigating the world can often be even more troublesome than the enemies that inhabit it. Levitating in the air and attacking with a gravity kick is the most common attack early on, but in the later levels it becomes quite difficult as enemies quickly dodge out of the way sending Kat sailing past. While this isn’t the biggest issue, it can become quite frustrating when there are multiple high-level enemies engaged in battle at once. It’s extremely easy to run out of stasis because of a missed attack, and end up falling to your death. It is just more cumbersome than it needs to be.
There’s also the issue of draw distance. While this is clearly a limit of the hardware rather than a design flaw, the decision to rid of loading screens and blend the world together makes for some rendering issues that can fundamentally mess with the way that the game is played. When I have to sneak Kat around a map full of armed guards, but only half of the level is rendered (with the rest shrouded in fog), it makes things more difficult than they should be. There had to have been a better way to handle this.
Despite the struggles of the combat system, the story of Kat and overall atmosphere of the game are extremely well executed and make up for the small misstep. Sure, Gravity Rush isn’t the Vita’s savior, but it doesn’t really need to be. It’s a competent action game with a unique mechanic that works well on a handheld. The mystery of Kat and Dusty should be enough to keep players entertained and working their way through the game’s main story chapters and right into a second playthrough.