Gravity Rush challenges your perception of what it means to be a superhero. Better yet, it challenges your notion of what constitutes as superpowers. The cleverly-named Kat, who is bestowed gravity-defying powers by a cat (get the play on names?), acts like a superhero on acid. She falls through the city like a ragdoll in a wind turbine, bouncing off chimneys and crashing onto the side of buildings with a heavy “thud.” She is, for better or worse, a fairly accurate representation of what a normal human would do if they could switch gravity on and off. To put it politely, Kat is a graceful klutz and the vast majority of your time in Gravity Rush is attempting to make her a tad more confident in her actions—then again, the game is really testing you as the operator of Kat.
Your playground is Hekseville, a city not unfamiliar with gravity defying folk. Kat doesn’t know why she was bestowed these powers, but before long you are tasked with rescuing a child from a rift. Your faithful cat companion grants you gravity powers, and you’ll float around in an attempt to rescue this child. In addition, you get to fight to defend the city from the evil Nevi, which are the game’s version of enemies.
This is all done over a beautiful cel-shaded backdrop. There’s a heavy anime approach to Gravity Rush, from the actual gameplay, to the cool comic book-style narrative segments that has you swipe at the PS Vita screen to switch between frames. This is a lush game full of likable secondary characters and a protagonist that feels all too realistic for her own good.
Gravity Rush does a great job of utilizing the unique features of the PS Vita. There are touchscreen controls, but you can also tilt the device to control Kat’s in-air antics. You move through the air with a simple tap of the button. This lifts you off the ground—you can even pick up objects or people like this—and you’ll tilt the Vita to aim (this can be done with analog stick). With another tap of the button you’ll soar through the air. Continue to tilt the Vita as you can change your path mid-air.
If this sounds confusing or difficult, well, you are right. Initially, Gravity Rush provides a massive challenge in basic navigation, but it’s also done extremely well. It’s the case of practice makes perfect. I found myself frustrated early trying land at my destination, but after some upgrades and practice, I was like some virtual fairy, floating around like I owned the sky. It’s important to note that falling while floating around will not harm Kat, but it probably embarrasses her cat that gave her those superpowers. Even if you fall off course—say over a bridge or something—you’ll quickly get sent back to your original destination.
The gyro sensor is utilized extremely well. At times I played without the analog stick, which required me to stand up and twirl the Vita above my head, behind my back, and back to my front in order to navigate the sky. The basic touchscreen commands are in place as you should expect. You’ll swipe at the screen to dodge, with mixed results, and tap the regular face buttons to attack. Combat is a bit bland on the ground, but if you take it to the air, you can lock on to an enemy and charge them with an exciting flying kick like some old kung fu master. It’s a shame that the targeting system is rough around the edges because air combat is really the only satisfying part of combat. Luckily the game isn’t simply a gravity-defying fighter.
Gravity Rush mostly plays like an open-world sandbox set in a single city with unlockable zones. Navigating the city is definitely the highlight, and you are in for a treat as you try to get from point A to point B. Go off the path once a while and you’ll find an assortment of basic side quests. Besides that, there isn’t too much else to do in the city, which makes the open-world feel a bit too quiet for its own good. There are bigger games, like Batman: Arkham City, that do a better job of open-world navigation, but Gravity Rush still does a great job of offering something a little unique. There’s even a vast upgrade system through gems you can snatch in mid-air. It’s pretty fun to simply fly through the city looking for these gems.
Even if the city feels a bit lonely, it’s still a blast to explore the varying districts in this beautiful world. The music is catchy and the voice acting feels very much like an anime film, but in a very good way. This all blends together for a wonderful presentation and a terrific offering for the PS Vita.
There is reply value here with the various challenges scattered throughout the game. There is also some DLC forthcoming. This is definitely a game you’ll want to experience if you are looking for something a little different. This may sound silly, but it may be hard to play this game for long periods of time, especially if you are easily confused or get nauseous. It’s easy to lose your bearings in mid-air and the camera can swing around quickly—just a fair warning.
Gravity Rush is definitely a game worth your time, especially if you’re a Vita owner looking for something new. Even if this came out alongside dozens of triple-A Vita games, we would recommend Gravity Rush for its unique gameplay, its beautiful presentation, and its protagonist’s adorable charm. There are a few things that hold this back from being a mega hit—including boring combat and some occasional glitches—but Gravity Rush is a thrilling experience.