Published Jul 30, 2012It would be a shame if Gravity Rush were reduced to its ingenious titular game mechanic or its best-Vita-title-yet status, though it's certainly both of those things. Even worse would be if someone bypassed it because of its sadly generic name.
Gravity Rush is a comprehensive success in an era where those can be few and far between, bringing together its component parts into a wonderfully satisfying handheld whole.
That said, the gravity business is ultimately what sets this new effort by Silent Hill's Keiichiro Toyama apart. For an artistic medium now into its fourth decade, there simply aren't that many genuinely new tricks in the game mechanics toolbox. Portal found one a few years back and Gravity Rush has unearthed another.
You play an ironically memorable amnesiac named Kat, who, thanks to a mysterious actual cat, can somehow fly. Well, not fly, per se, more like fall. You can manipulate gravity, meaning you can fall up, sideways or any direction you happen to be pointing in, via either the thumbstick or immersively tilting the Vita. It also means you can walk on walls or ceilings, depending on how you land. These multidirectional plummets remain a thrill hours in, even after the initial novelty wears off, which is pretty vital considering the weak-link combat can get pretty repetitive.
The game is an open-world action-RPG set in Hekseville, a steampunk-inspired floating city under threat by a swirling vortex and the monsters that arrived with it. The gorgeous cel-shaded art design was influenced by French comic artist Moebius , in particular — by the way, we highly recommend his Silver Surfer two-parter, Parable — and comic books in general. There are also a super-heroic heroine and hand-drawn cut scenes delivered via swiped panels, not to mention a clear aesthetic influence from Studio Ghibli.
Gravity Rush, initially envisioned as a PS3 game, fulfils the Vita's promise of pocket-sized console-calibre games that lose nothing on the smaller screen, but gain something thanks to the Vita's unique tech. More than that, it is simply an ambitious game that aimed high and fell upwards. (SCEA Japan Studios/Sony)