Impressions On Gravity Rush

Have you been walking into your local EB Games/Gamestop lately just to try out the Gravity Rush demo on the display model Vita?  If so, then you’re in luck as Sony released the trial for download, meaning you can flip the world upside-down in this physics-bending title from your own living room.  Hold onto your hats as we take gravity for a spin!  As always, you should play through the game first if you wish to avoid any spoilers.

The demo opens up on a considerably short monologue from our protagonist, Kat, who has lost her memory and is searching for a mysterious cat for unknown reasons.  Upon finding it, the bizarre feline starts to glow, which somehow causes Kat to become weightless and she starts to float.  Suddenly, she is pulled off through the air, only to land standing sideways on a building!

Here, players learn the basic premise of shifting gravity.  A simple press of the R button will suspend gravity, and a second press will shift it in the direction players are facing – sucking Kat (and anyone standing within a few feet of her) to the nearest surface.  Using this feature, players can run across any plane, be it a wall or a ceiling, and a quick tap of the L button will return gravity to normal.  It can be a bit disorienting at first, but the mechanics can be mastered fairly quickly and they are an incredibly unique concept.

After the tutorial ends, Kat catches a brief glimpse of another woman who, similarly, can ignore the laws of physics, before she jumps out of sight.  Players need to find this lady and chase her down by gravity shifting across buildings, then landing near her.  Upon meeting with the mystery woman, she simply scoffs at Kat before floating away.  However, our heroine has no time to chase her, as she quickly spots a man under attack by thugs.  Floating down towards them, she quickly dispatches the gangbangers using her apparent knowledge in martial arts, thus ending the scene and starting chapter two.

I’d like to take the time to note just how visually stunning the title is looking at this point.  Gravity Rush’s overall art style takes a cell-shaded, comic-book approach. This is overly apparent in storyline cutscenes which actually take the form of a graphic novel; there are even various art panels to flick through using the front touch screen.  Tilting the Vita will also affect the viewing angle of the mock-page, making it feel almost like real paper in your hands.  The graphics and animations are surprisingly smooth and detailed, which is very surprising since this is an older demo.  All of this gives a fantastically fresh flavour to the title, one that I can’t wait to taste again at launch.

It’s also worth noting that, for the demo, only Japanese voice-overs are available.  An English cast may or may not be available in the full release, but subtitles will better help North American players understand what’s going on.  While I would like to hear a localized cast, as long as it turns out superior than some other eastern import titles (here’s looking at you Blue Dragon and Enchanted Arms!), the current one delivers just fine and gamers will have no problems.  Some enthusiasts may even prefer it!

Ok, now back to the action.  After saving the man (who looks to be a city guard), Kat explains to him that she has lost her memory and doesn’t know who she is.  Before the man can inquire much further, she cuts him off after seeing a wanted poster.  The criminal in question is a woman named Raven, and Kat quickly recognizes her as the lady she saw before.  While Kat attempts to tell the man that Raven may be the only person who knows who she really is, their talk is cut short by a group of monsters!

At this point, players are introduced to combat, which is fairly straightforward but engaging.  Players may unleash a series of kick combos with a single button, but the true fun comes from the Vita’s touch controls and the game’s gravity mechanic.  To dodge attacks, players must swipe the touch screen in the direction they wish to move; instead of the traditional button/thumbstick combo, which is a very distinct control scheme, gamers may also use a powerful gravity-kick, where Kat shifts gravity in the direction of the enemy in order to deliver a powerful boot to the face.  Switching between ground and zero-gravity combat is incredibly fun, and if some extra moves or skills are available in the full release, then Gravity Rush will truly shine above many other action titles.

After fighting through a few small enemies, a larger boss-monster appears.  This creature features two weak points on its highest spot and a hidden third point below it (which is revealed upon destroying the first two). Players will need to mix their ground and aerial tactics, or the battle will continue on endlessly.  These kinds of dynamic boss battles would make any title more interesting, but mixed with Gravity Rush’s novel mechanics, they give the game an exceptional boost.  Hopefully, more of these styled scuffles will be available in the full release as they will augment the title greatly.

After defeating this dark giant, players witness one last scene: to deliver a final blow to the monster, Kat combines with her, err… cat in one last powerful charge attack.  After piercing through its weak spot, the creature is destroyed – which then brings the main logo on-screen followed by a gameplay trailer, signaling the end of the demo.

When gravity shifts back to normal and your feet hit the ground, you’ll notice that Gravity Rush is shaping up to be an absolutely amazing title.  From its distinctive and engaging gravity-changing gameplay, to the comic-styled graphics, this is one Vita title gamers need to keep an eye out for.  I know that I’m personally going to be counting down the days until release as this is one of the most unique Vita titles out there.

Gravity Rush releases on June 12th in North America, and a day later – on the 13th – inEurope.

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June 1, 2012 - 8:01 am