Most third-person action games, even those focused on platforming and exploration, tend to take place on one gravitational plane. You can climb and fall, but you're always oriented in the same direction. Sony Computer Entertainment of America's Gravity Rush ($39.99) puts a twist on that by letting you change your personal gravity to any direction, whenever you want. This turns the Sony PlayStation Vita game from an otherwise bland brawler to a unique experience that feels more like Super Mario Galaxy than Gears of War. It's a clever take on an old formula, but its repetitive missions, dull colors, and unsatisfying story keep it from being more than a Mirror's Edge-like novelty.
You play Kat, a young girl who can't remember anything and who has mysterious gravity-shifting powers. You have to explore the town of Hekseville,a city sitting on the side of a mysterious world pillar over a massive black void, to (hopefully) find out what happened to you and why the world's so strange. It's a unique setting, and suitable for a unique game.
Gravity Rush's main mechanic is gravity shifting. By pressing the right trigger, you can cancel your gravity and start floating. By aiming a reticule at a surface and pushing the trigger again, you can shift gravity to that surface, orienting it like the ground. Most gameplay is focused on alternating between shifting and cancelling gravity so you can get to an area or attack enemies, and your most useful attack is a gravity-enhanced flying kick. You can cancel and shift gravity as long as your gravity meter has energy which is refilled by walking on the ground. The meter can be upgraded, along with other abilities, by collecting power crystals.
The gravity tricks are easy to grasp after a few minutes of running around, and the game slowly gives them to you in the beginning of the game to keep the learning curve gentle. The skill upgrades help keep your falling and shifting skills at the right level while you get used to them, letting you perform faster and farther-reaching maneuvers. Once you get the gravity kick skill, though, you have everything you need to get through the game. The other tricks, like throwing objects and improving your ground attacks, are just bonuses you won't use most of the time.
Gravity Rush looks good, with a stylized cell-shaded art style that brings to mind dreamy comics like Little Nemo. The color palettes tend to be too one-note, with each area having its own basic, usually very dark, color and little variation from it. There's some variety between the different locations, but the game could have used more variety and brightness in its color choices.
The game's missions and activities consist of three main tasks: getting from point A to point B quickly, defeating all the enemies in an area, and picking up objects or people and taking them to a specific location denoted by a glowing red square. You'll run through four areas of the city and four additional areas outside of the city in the course of the game, and while the color palettes and backgrounds might change the basic concepts remain the same. The only exceptions are an unnecessary forced stealth section and a few other odd tasks.
If you just play through the main missions, the game will last you about six to eight hours, but perfectionists who want to undertake all the extra activities can stretch the game to at least ten. Unfortunately, no matter how much you play you won't get a satisfying ending. The game raises many interesting questions about the world in which Hekseville inhabits, but it never actually explains Kat, the world, or the colorful characters she meets. The ending is rushed and anticlimactic and the narrative is full of sequel bait, so there's no real sense of accomplishment or wonder beating the game.
Gravity Rush is a fun, creative romp through an interesting world, but it's a romp that never quite pays off. It's enjoyable and the gravity mechanics are a blast to play with, but the game is hampered by uninspired missions and an incomplete story. It's worth a look if you're a Vita owner, and the demo can give you a good sense of the game as a whole. Try the gravity-shifting demo before you drop the money on it.
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