Toyama has described Gravity Rush as a cross between Japanese comic culture and the works of French author Moebius in its graphical styling and characters. The reality is closer to a Japanese take on the Sucker Punch title Infamous. Gravity Rush is an open world and it is played in episodic chapters. Gravity control has a Pilotwings feel to it, whilst the combat seems almost Zelda-esque, yet the amalgamation of these influences creates a truly original experience.
You play the character Kat who is a girl with amnesia. She lives in the town of Hekseville on the dying world of Auldnoir. Kat awakens and is granted her gravity defying powers by her feline companion, with the goal of rebuilding the world of Auldnoir and to recover her lost memories.
The powers bestowed upon Kat allow her to reach unattainable places; she can float, run around the sides and ceilings of buildings and even carry objects and humans along with her. That is not to say that she is one clawless feline when faced with the bad guys in Gravity Rush - The Nevi, monsters that arrived with the gravity storm over Auldnoir - and it’s up to her to dispatch them back to where they came from.
Kat has many methods at her disposal to help fight the Nevi, one of which is the gravity kick which can be executed by activating gravity and targeting via the gyroscope to perform a kick from any distance or angle - the further away she is, the higher the damage on connection. The gravity slide is another powerful method of attack available - both edges of the Vita screen are touched while shaking the screen left to right or up and down. The resulting carnage can only really be compared to a full 360 degree Liu Kang (of Mortal Kombat fame) kick all over the screen. Combat is handled well in the game and standard attacks are carried out using only one button, but when combined with gravity elements, the results would not look out of place in a Street Fighter game. The main reason this works so well is that the control methods are well thought out, fluid and intuitive; a small video will play when discovering a new move, showing how to execute it. Not content with allowing one control method, an interchangeable alternative will be offered so that players can adapt to what suits them best. The camera is also excellent and is very quick to follow the action regardless of the angle or speed asked.
When a Nevi is beaten they drop a crystal and these come in two different flavours. The blue crystals help replenish Kat’s gravity meter (In certain modes), although this does regenerate over time. The more valuable red crystals are used to power up abilities and gain new special powers. This risk reward method of progression is commonplace in open world games and it does suit Gravity Rush well.
There are many varied styles of play on offer alongside the main story of the game. Time attack battles are included which can generate a lot of crystals (and trophies), alongside fetch quests with a twist. Also on offer are navigation trials which are very similar to the flag mini quests of Ezio Auditore in Assassins Creed. Gravity Rush really does provide a full open world experience for the handheld format, with the tasks on offer being suitable for a ten minute bus journey, or a two hour main quest session.
Aesthetically, Gravity Rush is without comparison on a handheld system (and yes, this includes Golden Abyss). Graphically the game is simply stunning and would not look out of place as a current Playstation 3 title; the very colourful palette in its cel-shaded style really does give the title a unique look and in the 14-16 hour main quest there was not one instance of slowdown or tearing. The similarly stunning score is penned by Kohei Tanaka who is famous for composing the scores of anime such as One Piece and Sakura Taisen (which really needs to be enjoyed through headphones), and has great synergy with the action on screen, giving an epic feel to Kat’s plight. One of the most interesting features of Gravity rush is the way the story is progressed. Interactive storyboards are utilized which can be read by either pressing a button or swiping the screen like a real comic book - the most interesting feature being that by tilting the screen you can look in to the frame of the story from different angles which may reveal some pleasant surprises.
Fans of survival horror may be disappointed that Toyama has moved away from the genre and into pastures new, but what he has given us is a unique and beautiful open world title that could not be replicated on any system other than the Playstation Vita. Aesthetically stunning and an absolute joy to play whilst using every trick the Vita has to bestow perfectly - Gravity Rush really must be experienced to be believed. Gravity rush is an absolutely sublime experience much like the first time a young horned boy entered a foreboding fortress. It displays a freshness seldom seen today. Is Gravity Rush worthy of the hype it has received, being touted as a “killer app”? When you play it, we think you will agree it is.
+ Graphically Stunning
+ 14-16 Hour Quest and Extras
+ Completely unique
- Levelling can be a little tiresome
- When it's finished
Developer: Japan Studio
Other Versions: N/A
Version Reviewed: Japanese