When I bought my PS Vita a couple of weeks ago one of the big decisions I had to make was “What game do I get to go with the system?” Luckily for me there were Vita demo units at my local mall, so I was able to try out a few games before making my big decision. Admittedly, there wasn’t a lot of demos on the system, as most were either videos or kids games. But there was one game that stood out to me, a game called Gravity Rush.
UPDATE: This review does contain spoilers, please be mindful before reading all the way through this section. Best to move onto gameplay and visuals if you don’t want details on the story.
The story revolves around a girl with amnesia named Kat, who fell from the sky onto the floating city of Hekseville. When she wakes up from her fall, she’s in the slums of the city, and she meets a mysterious cat that she decides to name Dusty. Dusty is what gives Kat her powers to bend and manipulate gravity, and she needs them because Gravity Storms are threatening the city, with huge sections of the city being swallowed up. On top of that, creatures called the “Nevi” are popping up and attacking the populace, so Kat becomes a bit of a superhero, defending the people of Hekseville from the Nevi threat.
Eventually, she meets up with an eccentric, homeless looking man named Gade, who claims that he’s a Creator, and that he created Hekseville. He tells Kat that she needs to go to another dimension and basically recover the missing parts of the city. At this point, he opens up his trench coat, and instead of flashing Kat his privates he actually shows that his chest is a portal to those other dimensions. While she’s putting the city back together, though, she’s finding that another Gravity Shifter named Raven is trying to stop here in her quest. Though Kat is able to get the best of Raven once or twice, Raven still seems to be a very powerful foe who will try anything in her power to stop Kat.
After putting the town back together and defeating Nevi-controlled man named Alias who was also terrorizing the city, Kat is given a task by a woman who dropped the last letter she received from her boyfriend before he died into the abyss below the city. She starts her decent into the abyss, and at times has to travel through the pillar that goes down to the earth in order to avoid the gravity storms. When she travels through the pillar though, it makes her lose her gravity-shifting abilities, until she gets close to the bottom, where Raven confronts her one last time. She makes it her mission to prevent Kat from reaching the bottom, but Kat manages to make it to the bottom, where’s she’s captured by a tribe of children.
It turns out that the children were on a school field trip years ago and the school bus they were on crashed into the abyss. Since then, they’ve been surviving on the trash sent from above, and can’t seem to find a way out of their predicament. At this point, though, one of the “children” turns out to be a Creator just like Gade, and she manages to help Kat unlock a power to reveal hidden secrets. With this new ability, Kat finally has a way to get the children back to Hekseville: use a giant stone ruin named the Ark and have it fly back to the surface. Raven comes around at this time, and it’s revealed that she’s not really a villain, but rather she was one of the kids in the first place! She tells Kat that the mayor of Hekseville’s aide told her that if she makes sure that the missing parts of town stay missing that he’d help Raven get the kids back, hence why she tried to stop Kat all those other times. Now that there’s a way to get the kids out, though, Raven teams up with Kat and they get the kids into the Ark. However, as they start the journey back to Hekseville, a giant Nevi attacks the group, and Kat manages to distract it long enough for the Ark to escape. As the Ark is going through a dimensional wormhole, however, it appears that the giant Nevi wasn’t defeated, and knocks the Ark off course and Kat is lost to the void.
Kat wakes up, and she has to start the trip back up to Hekseville by coming back the way she came. After having to defeat groups of Nevi several times, she finally makes it back up to the surface, where it’s revealed that Hekseville has changed, and the Ark is nowhere to be found. Even though it only appeared to Kat that she was gone for a few days, it turns out that in this world the farther away from the center you get the faster time seems to function. Thus, in Hekseville it’s been a year since Kat was last there, and that’s why the kids were still little kids despite going missing nearly 9 years earlier. The old mayor had died, and so his aid, D’nelica has taken over, turning Hekseville into a brutal police state. As Kat is getting adjusted to the new city, she meets up with a strange scientist who needs her to place some sensors around the underside of the city. The sensors seem to attract Nevi, however, and Kat ends up fighting off hordes of them until it’s revealed by the scientist that the sensors aren’t that good, and that he was just disposing of them. While Kat seems to think of him as an honest, if not slightly eccentric fellow, it turns out that he’s the right hand man to D’nelica and that he was using the placing of the sensors as a ruse to study Dusty and the power he gives off. A few days later the mayor makes an announcement that the military has a super weapon that will destroy the Nevi. Kat takes this opportunity to check it out. As the Sea Anemone is revealed, Nevi attack, and Kat goes on the offensive. However, the new weapon makes short work of the Nevi, and Kat is actually slightly grateful to the assistance. However, the Sea Anemone is flawed, and it goes haywire destroying everything in sight. After one of its plates is damaged, it’s revealed that the Sea Anemone has a Nevi powering it in the first place!
Gade tells Kat to use her powers on him, so she does. The Ark then bursts out of Gade’s portal, and Raven shows up on the scene to help Kat take down the Sea Anemone. It’s a long, hard fight, and at one point the mayor decides to activate the self-destruct sequence, which would destroy both the weapon and the section of town that it was in. Finally, Kat manages to send the Sea Anemone flying, where it blows up right in front of the mayor and his entourage. They survive, but now the town is angry, and they demand that he steps down from his position. The children on the Ark all fell into a deep sleep, and have yet to wake up yet, but for the time they are safe. Now finally Kat can have some peace and quiet, and start to live the normal life she’s been dreaming of.
Overall, I enjoyed the story for the most part, although there was a certain tendency to introduce characters and then just as quickly shelved them. As you can tell, it’s pretty basic, as it deals with a girl’s quest to become a part of something, to fit in with this world she has no idea about. Despite having these superpowers, she’s just like any other person, full of her own hopes and dreams, and insecurities. By taking up the mantle of a superhero, the Gravity Queen as they call her, she feels a connection with the people of Hekseville and loves every minute of it. The game does a good job of making you develop attachments to certain characters, especially Kat and Dusty. At one point, Dusty eats some bad food, and as you’re traveling through a dimension in order get a piece of the city back, Dusty’s powers begins to fail him, making what should be an easy enough section turn into a nightmare as you’re only able to hover and fly for short periods of time. Dusty keeps looking worse and worse as the level goes on, and I couldn’t help but feel some anxiety over what might happen to him. Of course, when that part of town is restored, Dusty hacks up the offending food, and now he’s back to normal.
While some games are built to have an amazing story with average controls and gameplay, with this game it’s the opposite. While the story was average, the controls and the gameplay were amazing with the Vita. Here, you control the gravity around you, and by shifting the gravity around you can fall in a different direction, basically meaning that you’re flying. This is your main method of transportation in this game, as you fly over buildings and deliver powerful gravity kicks to the Nevi. A nice feature was the fact that the game uses the motion sensors in the Vita to great effect, as moving the Vita around will allow you to get a level of precision not available in joysticks. It’s perfect for when you need to adjust your aim just a slight bit in order to make sure that the kick your delivering reaches its target. However, that’s not to say that the controls are perfect. Though there are several different abilities for you to use in order to destroy the Nevi, I’ve found that there are only 2 or 3 that are actually useful. The evade ability, which is done by swiping the screen, is too cumbersome to use most of the time. There’s an ability to pick up objects with your gravity field and fling them at the enemy, but it too is cumbersome, and leaves you exposed as you try to come up with a good item. Besides using gravity kicks, the only other abilities I found use for were 2 of the super moves. By the end of the game the fights were getting tedious, as often time you’d be facing 5 or 6 power Nevi that each have up to 6 weak points you need to destroy, and often times they were either incredibly quick, meaning you missed your kicks 90% of the time, or they fired energy attacks at you, meaning you needed to be dodging all the time. And while the combat can get tedious, you do have the ability, however, to upgrade your different moves to make the more powerful. To upgrade your moves, you need to collect crystals that are found floating throughout the game. And the crystals aren’t just for upgrades, as they can be used to repair certain parts of town that will unlock challenge missions that while unnecessary, they do have rewards in the form of more crystals to make it easier to upgrade those abilities.
The graphics, however, are what really make this game stand out. Set in a anime-like steampunk cel-shaded world, Hekseville and its inhabitants look outstanding. The character designs are all gorgeous and make sense thematically. Kat normally wears this one piece outfit that makes her look like a super hero, and though there are times where the games creators play up the fan service a bit *coughshowerscenecough* you can tell that they didn’t try to make her overly sexual, with huge breasts and a tiny waist. The Nevi are also cleverly designed, as a lot of them have this almost nightmare-type of quality to them, as they obviously don’t belong in this world. And the town itself looks amazing, with each part of the city playing host to a completely different feel and theme. This beautiful world, combined with that ease of travel inherent, make for a fun filled game that kept me glued to my Vita for hours on end.
This is a good game. This is a very good game. Despite its flaws, I would recommend anybody with a PS Vita to pick this game up, especially if they like the Japanese style animation. And luckily, if the Vita itself does well, I feel like we’ll be seeing a sequel to this game before too long, as the ending ends on a cliff hanger of sorts. I know that I want to see more about Kat’s backstory, and to see what happens to the kids in the Ark. And, in the end, I can definitely say that I’m glad that I chose Gravity Rush as the first game I bought for the Vita. Now, hopefully I won’t be too disappointed in the other games…