Our brains seem obsessed with the laws of gravity – everyone’s had terrifying dreams where they’re plummeting from great heights, or uplifting dreams of taking flight while on foot. Gravity Rush, from Sony’s Japan Studio, combines these two sensations with such a wonderful, vivid approach that it’s worth playing for its physics-warping mechanics alone. But as luck would have it, the gravity powers are only one piece of the pleasing puzzle – GR also brings a lively setting, charming characters, and wonderful music and graphics to the palm of your hands.
As of this moment, it’s the best reason to own - or consider buying - a Vita.
You play as Kat, an endearing super-heroine-in-the-making who can’t remember how she arrived in the quaint, open-world city of Hekseville. Things go from quiet to chaotic when the Nevi start to appear; these are giant monsters that look like Salvador Dali creatures sculpted from strawbelly jelly. Right in the nick of time, ethereal astro-cat Dusty grants Kat domain over the forces of gravity, bestowing her with the powers to better the city and help its gentle folk by squashing the Nevi menace.
You’ll be eager to save the townsfolk, too – the cel-shaded cast of characters is full of lovable anime archetypes who exchange pleasant banter or grimace menacingly as needed. Kat herself steals the show as the naïve but well-meaning people’s champ, but you’ll also encounter memorable secondary characters, like a God-like figure named Gade or the inept young detective Syd.
When playing as Kat, jumping to your would-be death isn’t a problem. With a tap of a button, she’ll suspend herself in midair, floating aimlessly for as long as your depleting gravity gauge will allow. Tapping the button again will direct gravity in the chosen direction, letting you plummet skyward or walk on walls with ease. GR makes great use of the Vita’s gyro sensor: tilting the Vita around will intuitively guide Kat’s gravity-aiming reticule (though you can use the right analog stick if you prefer). You’ll also use touchscreen swipes and taps to evade attacks, cover ground with gravity slides, and unleash flashy, rainbow-charged finishing moves.
It initially takes some time to come to grips with the bizarre z-axis movement that Kat employs, but it won’t be long before you’re soaring through the air or gliding across ceilings at a whim. Things never get exasperating during this learning period, either – Kat’s completely immune to fall damage (though you’ll feel guilty when she crashes to the pavement), and failing a mission sends you right back to a checkpoint in a jiffy.
The combat also emphasizes bending gravity to your advantage: though you can string together some decent kick combos on the ground, your main source of damage comes from rushing skyward, taking aim at a Nevi, then plunging foot-first into their heads at Mach 3 speed. The targeting can be a little spotty from time to time, but the guttural satisfaction of nailing a gravity-driven flying kick will make you forget all the times you sailed past your intended mark. You’ll also get to bust out some great special moves, like a spinning drill attack or a miniature black hole.