I wonder how Sir Isaac Newton would feel if he were to play a game inspired by his own legend where real-world gravity physics have been crafted into an interactive playground. Well, if that game were Gravity Rush, I'm sure he'd be amazed—and not just by the existence of a glowing interactive box in his hands.
The central mechanic in Gravity Rush is the ability to control your own personal gravity. By a simple press of a button, you're floating in zero G. Press it again and you fall toward whatever you're aiming at. This means that you have the ability to not only walk on walls and ceilings but fly as well.
For many games, that rudimentary gravity control would be enough right there, but not for Gravity Rush. Soon you'll be drop kicking enemies, lifting and launching items, and sliding down the streets in addition to launching yourself through the sky. Best of all, each of these moves is useful and easy to perform.
As you play, you'll come across thousands of small purple crystals scattered across the world. By spending those you find on the map or win in side missions, you are able to upgrade your powers, HP, and physical attacks to really customize your character.
Gravity Rush takes place on a floating steam-punk city that is constantly being invaded by monsters even as it's slowly broken apart by a black hole. Enter Kat—our gravity powered,
amnesiac, teenage protagonist—and her sparkly magic cat. With no knowledge of the world she finds herself in, Kat sets out to rediscover her past, only to find that she's public enemy #1 in this city terrorized by her mirror opposite, Krow.
The world itself is excellently designed. A large part of this game revolves around exploring the Victorian city—including its sides and bottom—for all the hidden crystals as well as for just the sake of exploration. Moreover, there are tons of side missions that reuse the city's layout in fun and interesting ways. And as you progress in the story, new parts of the city are unlocked, starting the cycle again.
With its cameras, touch screens, and tilt sensor, there's certainly a lot the Vita can do. But as with most titles released with a new system, there seems to be some unwritten rule that forces developers to use these hardware features regardless of whether they make the game better or not. On this front, Gravity Rush is better than most, but certainly not perfect.
On the plus side, the tilt sensor is used along with the right thumb stick for aiming your falls with precision—though you'll likely find yourself overcorrecting at first. The sensor is also used for steering Kat's slide dash and even gives a bit of fun interactivity to the comic book cut scenes. Sounds great so far, right? But then there's the touch screen. While using it to initiate missions or dialogue is an acceptable use of the screen, making it the only way of dodging is not. Enemies telegraph their attacks with plenty of time to react, except that swiping your thumb across the touch screen in the direction you want to roll is as finicky as it is inaccurate.
If there's one negative in Gravity Rush, it's how it looks. Now, I don't mean the graphics—the animations are fluid and explosive, the scenery is detailed and wonderfully designed, and the cell shaded comic style only adds to the presentation. The problem with Gravity Rush is the color pallet. With Uncharted: Golden Abyss, we've already seen how amazing vibrant colors can make environments look on the Vita. But Gravity Rush constantly washes out the color with a
horrible orange filter. Okay fine. It's not always orange—sometimes it's white or blue—but regardless these filters make everything look bland and much less beautiful than it really is.
Gravity Rush is a fun, exciting—and often vertigo-inducing—game that really does a great job of bringing big-name content to a portable system. Even though I have only reached the midway point, I can say that of the seven Vita games I have spent substantial time with, this is the best. With its novel concept and well-designed gameplay, this is a title that no Vita owner should be without.