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Gravity Rush review

AT A GLANCE
  • Mastering the delicate art of gravity control
  • The feature-film-caliber visuals and score
  • Saving the day as a plucky heroine
  • Unplayable if you get motion sickness
  • Missing a challenge’s gold medal by 10 points
  • Playing any open-world game afterward that doesn’t let you control gravity

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.

Exploring Hekseville with your newfound abilities is a thrill; you’ll find precious gems and challenge quests littered throughout the city. Your extraordinary powers make GR feel like a proper superhero sandbox game, on top of the great adventuring. Nabbing hidden gems offers the same satisfaction that some of you might have experienced while grabbing green orbs in Crackdown, and so do those exhilarating moments found in the best Spider-Man games of leaping off gigantic buildings and swooping to the ground with the grace of a bird.

Gravity Rush immediately brings the films of Studio Ghibli to mind: the gorgeous art design mixes anime-style cityfolk with color-saturated vistas, and the melodic symphony soundtrack has the same peppy and harmonious cadence you’d expect from a Miyazaki movie. Each district of Hekseville has its own mood and appeal – there’s the soothing serenity of Auldnoir, or the hustle and bustle of the Pleajeune entertainment district. If you’re a fan of games oozing Japanese style, Gravity Rush will utterly entrance you from the moment you boot it up.

It’ll take you around 10 constantly-engaging hours to complete the main story, but there’s a wealth of objectives to conquer once you’ve concluded (as well as some incoming DLC). Many of the challenges are punishingly difficult to get a gold reward in; fortunately, finishing them is a bonus and not a requirement. There’s a caveat for gamers who experience motion sickness in FPS games and the like – GR requires that you spin the camera around at any given time, so if you have a weak stomach or vertigo, you’ll feel queasy within seconds.

With a nondescript name like Gravity Rush, you wouldn’t be the first to mistake this game for a low-budget title worth skipping. But it’d be a crime to overlook – this adventure has such a vibrant world, exhilarating gameplay systems, and a delightful narrative that it deserves a spot in every Vita owner’s library. It’s the kind of game that wouldn’t exist on any other platform, and honestly, it’s so perfect for the medium that it wouldn’t need to.

More Info

Release date: Feb 09 2012 - PS Vita (US)
Available Platforms: PS Vita
Genre: Adventure
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developed by: SCE Japan Studio
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Fantasy Violence, Use of Alcohol, Mild Suggestive Themes

22 comments

  • Squander - June 2, 2012 4:20 p.m.

    The character arts reminds me a lot of Tatsuya Yoshikawa and his work on Breath of Fire IV. Besides that: I already played the demo and I am so looking forward to that title!!
  • Squander - June 2, 2012 4:21 p.m.

    and I also want to add that the music is outstanding!!
  • burnsideking24 - May 25, 2012 9:52 a.m.

    THIS! This is the main reason I planned to get a vita! I can't wait to get this and a Vita soon!
  • MysterEnygma - May 24, 2012 5:36 p.m.

    I got so excited since the game looked so interesting, I like the art style....then I saw the word "Vita" and I was like "son of a...". I don't have one and don't even know if I want one but if this was on PC, I'd be all over it
  • ChaosEternal - May 24, 2012 3:47 p.m.

    I was reading this, and was thinking *Okay, I'll probably see the "but..." on page two.* When I only saw more good stuff, I then thought *Woah, this is probably going to be a 9 or a 10.* And then it was a 9, and it sounds pretty fun. If I had a Vita, I think I would buy this, but I don't. :P
  • talleyXIV - May 24, 2012 2:06 p.m.

    Looks like Wind Waker.
  • avantguardian - May 24, 2012 4:20 p.m.

    no offense, but i think you might wanna branch out from nintendo a little bit...
  • MasterBhater - May 24, 2012 12:45 p.m.

    I'm going to buy this game now, because I want to support original, new IP's on the Vita (Also, I like to support good games)
  • archnite - May 25, 2012 8:02 p.m.

    I thought it looked like moving pictures
  • JMarsella09 - May 24, 2012 12:19 p.m.

    Hell yeah! That's Chris Antista in the video review
  • therawski - May 24, 2012 2:27 p.m.

    Hell yeah!!!
  • TristanPR77 - May 24, 2012 11:16 a.m.

    Nice review, the majority of reviews agreed this game is amazing.
  • archnite - May 25, 2012 8:08 p.m.

    As someone who actually owns a Vita, unlike most of these commenters, I started excited but was a little worried when some of the reviews started rolling in; it seems to be a decisive title. But that art style is so beautiful I want that world in my pocket to explore even if the combat is a little wonky but it is not like any other game on the system. Also really liked that paragraph solely about Japanese art.
  • Nikku7 - May 24, 2012 10:49 a.m.

    If there were any reason for me to get a vita, this would be it. I've been really looking forward to this one, so it's good to hear it's so good. Hopefully it will get the sales it deserves!
  • BladedFalcon - May 24, 2012 10:26 a.m.

    Pleasantly surprised to see this game delivered so well! Not just with the gravity mechanics, but taht the world, story and characters are appealing too! ^^ I'm still very on the fence of buying a Vita though, as awesome as this game sounds, one single game isn't enough to pull me in, and currently, there isn't much on the horizon for the system. E3 is probably what's going to make up my mind whether I'll finally get a 3DS or a Vita. If the 2d Castlevania for the 3DS is indeed unveiled and looks to be the classic metroivania style I'll love... Then I'm sad to say but I probably would miss out on the Vita and this game altogether.
  • robinkurosaki - May 24, 2012 6:21 p.m.

    you could get both systems then you have the best of both, obvi not at once though. why limit yourself? i got my 3ds the day of the global price drop, i got my vita thanks to the game groups ridiculous games trade in promotion, got a ps3 too thanks to that. just to say at this time in the 3ds lifespan there was nothing coming for the 3ds either. just the oh this is coming out at some point (looking at you the overated mario franchise). the vita already has a far stronger library then the 3ds did at the time, i agree there isnt much news on future releases, but there coming. the vitas current library adding this to it arguably gives the 3ds a run for its money
  • BladedFalcon - May 24, 2012 6:55 p.m.

    "you could get both systems then you have the best of both, obvi not at once though. why limit yourself?" Um... because money and time DOES limit me? I love playing videogames, but having a full time job, a girlfriend and family doesn't exactly leave me with chunks of hours to play as much as once could. I already have a backlog and a hard time playing everything I want by owning just a PS3 right now. I can find time and enjoyment out of one portable console, but not two. And I don't ooze money to blow it off on a machine I would only use once in a while. Also... I'm sorry, but apart from escape plan, Gravity rush, and perhaps the attack of the mutant blobs. What exactly other original games are currently out for the vita? and i don't mean spinoffs from games you can play other versions of from other consoles, like golden abyss and such. And then, please tell me what is it being announced for the console? not even a few months from now, but a year from now? The 3DS had a very shitty startup, and i gave it a lot of hell for it, but it's starting to pick up, and again, the promise alone of a 2D castlevania alongside games like Project X zone sound far more interesting to me than anything the vita currently offers. Again, announcements in E3 might change my mind, but as it stands, the 3DS does seem to offer the better choices in the long run.
  • ObliqueZombie - May 24, 2012 9:11 a.m.

    It's too bad I don't have a Vita and can't get one anytime soon--I'm saving up and planning on purchasing a gaming PC. But this game... well, it has me so interested I've never felt more tempted to buying a Vita! With a comparison to the legendary Miyazaki, that grants an automatic buy from me. Fantastic review, Sullivan and Antista.
  • Corsair89 - May 24, 2012 9 a.m.

    I've really been looking forward to this one. Glad to hear it's so good.
  • pr0tostar - May 24, 2012 8:20 a.m.

    Too bad I just had to buy a new flippin ps3, my fat launch one finally gave out and wasn't worth sending in anymore. I still don't regret buying a new ps3 instead of a Vita that day for the upcoming year (unless every publisher just freakin decides to push their Q4 to 2013-.- Let's just say if this game came out a couple weeks earlier, I probably would've ended up getting the Vita. But I'll at least remember Gravity Rush for future reference lol. I had been having random thoughts about how Saints Row 4 were to fare if it went cel-shaded (a cel-shaded open world/sandbox.) Looking at this gives me a definite yes. This game could revolutionize sandbox games the way Biohazard4 changed 3rd-person shooting (which in it self changed most open world games lol.) Rockstar will always be on the graphical pinnacle of theirs, but imagine if more devs followed GRush's example and took that plunge. People wouldn't care, it'd make for a game that could handle new ideas and not have to sacrifice what people loved. I hope Gravity Rush gives open world games to come that push.

Showing 1-20 of 22 comments

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