Video Game Review: Bounce Around Inventive World of ‘Gravity Rush’

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CHICAGO – Some of the best games of all time have reached that status by presenting players with a unique, fully-formed world. It’s the universe of the PlayStation Vita game “Gravity Rush,” a clever new addition to the handheld’s increasingly impressive line-up, that allows it to stand out. The mechanics may be the hook but its the quirky sensibility and clever design of the world in which they’re employed that keep you playing. Video Game Rating: 4.0/5.0
Video Game Rating: 4.0/5.0

One is instantly impressed with the aesthetic of “Gravity Rush,” a game that looks more like a moving motion comic or an anime short than a traditional game. The team behind “Gravity” clearly started with a focus on storytelling over action or even the Vita-specific gameplay. We have to be engaged by a gaming world and its characters as much (arguably more) than we are with film and television and that’s what so many developers miss out on. While I have some issues with the overly quirky nature of some of the writing in “Gravity Rush” and there are some environments that look better than others, the entire look of the game, from the comic book panel appearance of cut scenes to the seamless motion of the action of the title, really separates it from anything else yet available on the PlayStation Vita.

Gravity Rush
Gravity Rush
Photo credit: Sony

In “Gravity Rush,” you play Kat, a girl stuck in a world that she doesn’t fully understand with powers that she’s just getting a grasp on using. Kat can manipulate the laws of gravity. She can climb on walls. She can jump higher than John Carter. She can virtually fly over enemies and use her skills to drop kick her weight into others. And Kat’s powers make a perfect fit for a handheld with motion sensors. Push one button and gravity goes haywire. Move the Vita to move Kat’s perspective and send her hurtling in another direction. You don’t have to use the motion sensors (and there are times, especially in the heat of combat, where I wouldn’t recommend it) but it is a neat trick — further proof that developers are just getting a grip on what this technology can do.

Gravity Rush
Gravity Rush
Photo credit: Sony

“Gravity Rush” takes place in Hekseville, a Steampunk-inspired crumbling metropolis that is being torn apart by something called Gravity Storms and an enemy known as the Nevi. These creatures have taken over Hekseville and Kat has to stop them as she gets a grip on her own powers and place in this futuristic society with the help of her trusting companion, a talking cat named Dusty.

A futuristic anime heroine with a talking cat? One knows if they’re interested in a game like that from its very description. It’s not for players who exclusively play “Madden” or “Call of Duty.” I must admit that the forced whimsy of a lot of “Gravity Rush” was sometimes abrasive. While I admired the originality of it all, one has to be in the right mood for talking cats and flying pixie girls.

“Gravity Rush” is split up into 21 episodes and the developers do an admirable job of splitting up the action in ways that it doesn’t become repetitive. At one point, you’re merely wandering the environment, collecting gems (that can be used to upgrade Kat) in hard-to-reach locations, and then you’re in the middle of heated combat or trying to solve a puzzle. It’s the variety of gameplay in “Gravity” that keeps its fresh and makes its flaws easier to overlook.

“Gravity Rush” was developed by Sony Japan and released by Sony on June 12, 2012, exclusively for the PlayStation Vita. content director Brian Tallerico

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