What’s up, Gravity Shifters. It’s been a while, huh? We’re just days away from the release of Dark Souls 3 and what better way to celebrate than with a look back at a game that isn’t dark and forboding: Gravity Rush! For those of you who missed this favourite of mine, it was originally a Playstation Vita exclusive which pretty much says it all. Earlier this year, PS4 owners were treated to an HD re-release which stays true to the original while incorpating the DLC and upping the visuals to a nice 1080p at 60 FPS.
It’s a sorta-open world action-adventure title set in the mysterious city of Hekseville. Our leading lady Kat awakens in the middle of Auldnoir, the residental district, only to find it being ripped apart by a severe gravity storm. She very quickly finds herself partner to Dusty, a cute black cat that imbues Kat with gravity shifting powers. If it isn’t obvious yet, said powers serve as the main draw of the title. Your main enemies are red blob-like creatures called the Nevi which come in a variety of different forms, much like the Heartless for those of you who played Kingdom Hearts. No one is really quite sure why they’ve started attacking Hekseville as is often the case in your run of the mill amnesiac stories. Oh, did I mention Kat has amnesia? Not the most original concept but as the player, you’ll often finding yourself feeling lost alongside Kat in this odd world.
Speaking of the world, it’s definitely one of my favourite aspects. Hekseville is split into four districts which you unlock as you progress through the story. You’ve got Auldnoir, the residental area followed by Pleasune, the “pleasure quarter”, home to a red light district of sorts as well as Arquebus Academy. Endestria is perhaps the least interesting serving as the industrial area while the business district, Vendecentre, is easily the most expansive. Each area feels unique in its design and Kat is able to explore with a great deal of vertically as well. No area is off limits when you can just invert gravity to walk on the underbelly of the city.
The gameplay has a few different elements to it. The most simple part of your powers is being able to change the gravity around you. If you were to flip gravity, you’d fall upwards and vice versa. With a bit of skill mastering and practice, it begins to feel just as if Kat were flying. Combat consists of kicking and punching but in combination with your powers, you’ll be hurtling around the battlefield due to the added momentum that comes with gravity alteration.
The world is littered with precious gems, quite literally their name which tie into the games levelling systems. It’s fairly simple in that you feed gems into your stats: gravity gauge length, kick strength etc and they level up. The higher the level, the more upgrades cost. You know how this stuff works by now. You can also earn extra gems through the various side missions in the game which also increase Kat’s reputation. As she becomes idolised by folks, she’ll be able to remove limiters on her powers which stop you from just focusing on, and maxing out, a single stat right from the start of the game. If it reminds you of Crackdown so far, the director actually admitted to it being an inspiration for this title. Kinda surprising hearing that from a Japanese developer was inspired by a western game if you ask me.
I should mention that Hekseville itself is attached a massive pillar which suspends it in place above an ocean of gravity storms. To fall off the edge is to fall off the world itself but while the city may be the world, there is more to the world than just the city. A lot of the games elements are purposely left unexplained which gives the world a vibe similar to Shadow of the Colossus or Final Fantasy Unlimited. Everything is strange but only because you’re the odd one but it puts Kat in the perfect position to question the city’s norms.
The story lasts about 10 hours and I enjoyed every minute of it. It actually faster than what I’d expect. Normally when you unlock a district in an open world game, you’re confined there until you’ve been made to explore every inch but here, you’ll only be doing 2 or 3 missions before it’s off to the next area. That isn’t to say there aren’t plenty of side missions and other hidden extras to find of course but it’s nice to not find the game stuffed with filler. The pace does change quite a bit about 2/3rd in opting for a few very long missions but they’re definitely worth it for where you end up.
Even now, 2 or 3 months after having finished the game again, I can still pretty vividly remember the faces of the characters which I find rare. I highly recommend checking this game out. Heck, last time I went to a game store in person, a dude bro asked me what was a cool PS4 game and I pointed him towards this title. I’ll leave you with one fun fact: The director Keiichiro Toyama is probably better known as the director and writer of Silent Hill and Siren: Blood Curse. Strange to think that a survival horror pioneer would make such a drastically different game but actually, this was the first game he wanted to make. Go check it out!