|System: PS Vita|
|Release: June 12, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 544p||Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
If you want to make a blockbuster game, it seems the best approach might be to mess around with the laws of physics. Games like Braid, Portal, and the upcoming puzzler Miegakure continue to prove the appeal of this type of gameplay. However, we still haven't received a suitable physics-breaking game on the Vita. Luckily, Gravity Rush, Sony's newest action platformer, is set to change all that.
Gravity Rush takes place in the floating town of Hekseville. The star of this dystopian fantasy is a girl named Kat who has somehow lost her memories. She runs into a mysterious black cat that gives her the power to control gravity. Unfortunately, she's not the only one who suddenly becomes able to tap into the fundamental forces of the universe. The laws of reality are breaking down throughout the world, causing a "Gravity Storm." This storm brings with it a horrible species of mutated monster that looks only to cause havoc on the world. It's up to Kat to protect her town from the Gravity Storm and figure out why the laws of physics appear to have been put into a blender.
Kat's main ability is to alter the way that gravity acts on her body. She first learns to turn gravity off, allowing her to float in place. However, she is unable to move in this state, so you'll have to turn gravity back on to get going again. While in Zero-G, you can tilt the PS Vita in different directions to essentially turn the entire world on its end. Once you have decided which end is down, you simply press a button and Kat falls in that direction. Suddenly, the sides of buildings become long city streets while the streets become walls. This has caused some levels to take on the appearance of an Escher painting—and I mean that in a good way. There's never a dead end in Gravity Rush, just another wall to walk on. For those of you who are worried about using motion controls, don't worry. You can re-orient gravity with the analog sticks as well.
As Kat makes her way through the game, she will learn more gravity-based skills, and she will need them considering she will frequently find herself in combat. Kat prefers to fight with her hands and feet, though she uses her gravity powers to increase the impact of her blows. For example, a fling kick at an enemy hurts, but if you alter gravity mid-flight to point toward the enemy's face, you'll essentially fall at the enemy sideways.
Kat will also eventually learn the ability to alter the gravity of other objects and people as well. This will be used for puzzle-solving segments strewn about the game. She can also lift and throw objects at enemies, or lift up the enemies themselves. She also gets an ability called "Gravity Strike" which is an attack that uses gravity itself to rip an enemy apart. What's interesting about Gravity Rush is that the game apparently likes to take your powers away at points and give you even new powers to play with. You will be guided, partially through necessity, by the power-set that the game makes available to you at any given point in time.
The environments of Gravity Rush are also rather impressive. The floating city that you wander through is a sight to behold, and it only takes up a portion of the game. Eventually you'll descend to the very center of the earth itself, wandering through catacombs that fill you with a sense of isolation. The fact that your main method of transport is falling really helps to hammer home that feel. You may only be moving horizontally through a cave, but since the fastest way to do so is to re-orient gravity toward your destination, you constantly have the feeling of falling down an endless black pit.
Supposedly, Gravity Rush has an amazing story. The game has come out in Japan, and while I was able to play the import version of the game, I don't speak Japanese well enough to understand exactly what was going on. That being said, the story is shown through some impressive in-game mechanics.
This is easily one of the prettiest looking games on the PS Vita to date. It looks like a sort of glorious moving anime. Outside of gameplay, story is told through motion comics that allow you to use the Vita's motion and touch controls for viewing. By changing the Vita's orientation, you actually get to see the motion comics in a pseudo-3D environment. By touching the screen and the rear panel, you are able to advance the game frame by frame. If you don't like Japanese anime and manga, you may not be a fan of Gravity Rush's art style, but you still can't deny that it's incredibly pretty.
On a final note, this game was directed by Keiichiro Toyama, who is well-known for his work on survival horror games like Silent Hill. While the game isn't a horror title itself, you can still feel the director's influence through the story. Your enemy is more abstract than anything else, and the plot of the game is rather personal. It has a very "Where am I? What is happening?" feel, which is common among titles such as Silent Hill.
Gravity Rush is scheduled to come out on June 12, 2012 here in North America. Be on the lookout for our full review then.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: March 9, 2012