The PS Vita has had a lack of great titles as of late. Sony's newest handheld launched with a nice selection, but the pickings soon turned slim. Personally, I am a huge fan of the Vita, and I genuinely want it to succeed. Of course, to do that, we need great games and we need them now.
It's been a while since we first got a glimpse of the Sony-developed "Gravity Rush," but it's finally here. Although not the game changer I was hoping it to be, I still love its storytelling and its innovative use of the Vita hardware.
Players take on the role of Kat, a mysterious young girl who awakens with no memory of who, what or where she is. Soon Kat is granted the power to manipulate gravity by a mysterious black cat, allowing her to fly through the air with ease (but not necessarily with grace). During Kat's adventure she encounters several worlds while trying to defeat the evil Nevi (alien-looking creatures) and their government co-conspirators.
The story as a whole for "Gravity Rush" isn't half bad, and is told through comic strip-like panels between scenes. To flip through the "pages," just swipe your finger across the screen. It's an added level of interactivity that I enjoyed.
The city of Hekseville, where Kat wakes up, can only be described as a big floating steampunk mess. Everything has seemingly run out of energy and no longer functions. Kat can go on side quests, gathering up red crystals that can be used to power the city. As she completes more of these tasks, Kat meets more of the townspeople, and more of the story unfolds.
The gravity manipulation power is pretty neat, but it can be a little wonky at times. Pressing the right trigger button causes Kat to hover above the ground. Players can ether tilt the Vita, or use the thumb stick to rotate the camera view. If there is nothing solid to stop Kat, she will fly forever until the game pops her back to where she started.
If you point Kat to the underside of a bridge, she'll fly up and land feet first on a set location. Kat can also run upside down or along walls until you turn off the gravity mode, or her gravity meter runs out. There were plenty of times I was attempting to complete a gravity challenge, only to have my meter run out, causing Kat to plunge out of the sky. Most of the time your meter replenishes itself before you get too far away from your goal. At other times, the game will zap Kat back to where she started. Either way, you want to make sure you are right side up or at your goal before the gravity meter runs out.
Even though you can tilt the Vita to control the camera, I often found using the thumb stick gave a more accurate (and faster) response. The Vita's gyro sensor is a remarkable thing, but it's just not as user friendly as doing things the old-fashioned way.
Kat has a telekinetic power that allows her to snare surrounding objects. At the start of the game, players need to gather furniture from various spots around the city in order for Kat to build out her new home. Once she has an object (bed, chair, desk, etc.) in her telekinetic bubble, she can walk or fly it to any location she needs. During a fight, Kat can also use this power to fling anything from boxes to benches at her enemies.
I'm not going to lie: The game feels chaotic at times. Most of the missions have you flying around, gathering crystals, fighting Nevi (by kicking them in their eyes), and turning on defunct city features. With a lack of titles for the Vita, "Gravity Rush" is certainly a breath of fresh air, but I felt it needs a little more refinement. I understand what Sony was trying to do here, and using the Vita hardware works more often than not.
It's when Kat goes to other worlds that this game really takes off. I loved the epic look to the advanced levels of the game, and allowing Kat to move beyond the city changed the whole tone of the game. Without giving the story away, take my word for it that if you feel the game starts off slow, just stick with it.
For those clamoring for a new Vita title, "Gravity Rush" is a welcome addition to the collection. Its mechanics and beautiful shaded graphics show off what the Vita can do. The gravity manipulation alone is worth the price of admission.