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review

Gravity Rush

The apple falling from the tree has become a symbol of Isaac Newton's ideas about gravity. Fittingly, events in Gravity Rush start with one such scene.

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Though things don't quite take the same turn: there's the tree. There, the apple. But in place of a physicist is an amnesiac teen called Kat, with powers that'd provide good ol' Mr. Newton some proper headaches.

How Kat got into the town of Hekseville, who she really is, and what kind of world Gravity Rush takes place in is all rather unclear at first.

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There's the vibe of Silent Hill and Siren here, unsurprising given the game's directed by Keiichiro Toyama and written by Naoko Sato, who've been attached to both franchises.

It's left up to the player to slowly discover the town's secrets; though this is a cheerful and lighthearted story in the telling. Sometimes quirkily Japanese, sometimes hovering a little towards poetic. Quite far from the development team's roots in the horror genre.

Gravity Rush

It's also obvious that this world has its clear differences from our own. A natural thing such as the world being round, or that apples fall down, is easy to question in Gravity Rush. Hekseville is made up of interconnected neighborhoods freely suspended in the air. Around it a gravity storm pulls at the population, to the point where whole districts are swallowed up. In addition, the city has been invaded by a bunch of monsters called Nevi.

She may be temporarily identity-less, but there's one thing Kat soon knows about herself: she is a Gravity Shifter - a person who can manipulate gravity. The task of resolving the problems of Hekseville then falls to her, naturally.

The games that have played with our expectations in regard to the laws of physics are growing in number. Portal, Prey, and Super Mario Galaxy are just a few examples, and it's pleasing that Gravity Rush manages to treat its unique mechanic as more than a gimmick. It's different and fun. Expectations for the game, however, were mixed with concerns about how the experience would endure. Fortunately, that worry was needless. Gravity Rush is, from beginning to end, a very entertaining and unique game.

Gravity Rush

In particular, it captures the feeling of flight. When Kat dangles limbs in a weightless state, and then sets off with the wind in her face to the nearest rooftops, you're reminded of those dreams in which you can fly. A childhood desire to be like Peter Pan.

Anytime you can change direction, it could be confusing going up and down, right to left. But it's been designed so that Kat's hair and scarf always fall down, as in the real down, so the player always has a pretty good track of which direction they're facing.

With the help of her powers, Kat can also run on all available surfaces, even vertical ones. However, it's important to keep track of a power meter that needs to be recharged from time to time, either by resting on the ground a short while or by picking up shimmering crystals that the game world is covered with.

Other crystals replenish health, and act as currency to upgrade Kat's abilities. Crystal accumulation is in itself a motivation to explore Hekseville, without having a specific mission enabled. Addictive, like orb hunting in Crackdown.

Both the side missions and main story crowd the map. Whilst side missions provide ways to win crystals, often the focus is on succeeding in objectives while under pressure, and it makes the main missions all the more interesting.

Gravity Rush

The story is told mainly through a series of interactive boxes that you can twist and turn with the console's gyro for a 3D effect. The goal is to find out who Kat really is, but also to restore Hekseville by retrieving the lost population - and entire city districts - from those greedy dimension tears, which in turn gives you more and more to discover in Hekseville.

When the heat is on Kat, she has a fairly unique repertoire of attacks. Although she can hand out a traditional kick whilst grounded, it is mainly in the air that her fighting skills come into their own. She uses herself as a projectile, conjures up huge boulders and flings them against her enemies, and can pick up objects in her environment using a gravitational field for a similar effect. Dozens of battles are interspersed with intense search sequences and more challenging boss battles, which together with the exploration sections, sets a nice pace through the twelve to fourteen hour-long story.

Kat's movement is controlled primarily through traditional console buttons, with a few exceptions. The target can be adjusted with SIXAXIS technology in the same manner as it was in Uncharted: Golden Abyss, which enhances accuracy significantly.

Gravity Rush

A swipe of your finger across the touch screen results in an avoidance manoeuvre, while two thumbs placed on the touch screen makes Kat slide off the surface she's on. I can find no better way to describe it.

Aesthetically, Gravity Rush is an enjoyable title on the eyes. It's not really stock fantasy from a Japanese studio. Hekseville itself is a twisted blend of unplanned European shanty town, with houses stacked on each other, Each town is bathed in its own color scheme which provides both character and variety. The music is much jazzier in the entertainment district than it is in the industrial area. Additional life is injected by strolling inhabitants (with a little luck they can become trapped in Kat's gravitational field and go on a panicked flight), while all manner of strange flying machines fill the air.

It is when Kat is visiting other dimensions that the design becomes twisted, especially on certain levels. One world may consist of giant lava tunnels, another may be composed of gigantic mushrooms - in space. Some worlds feel slightly boring in layout when compared to others, but overall there is always something new and exciting waiting around the corner.

Gravity Rush

If there is anything that can possibly remind us of Keiichiro Toyama's Silent Hill, it is the moderately bizarre enemy design. Do not be surprised if you find yourself fighting something that looks very strange.

As you might guess, Gravity Rush is fairly unique title, and there's something here for everyone. Some will argue that the characters are sometimes too superficial and fleeting. Some will get a headache from being upside down half the time. But for those who aren't afraid of gravity, enjoy a sense of freedom beyond the ordinary, aren't easily confused, like epic battles and want to take on a distinctive and varied adventure, well, then then there's no reason that you shouldn't consider this one.

Personally, Gravity Rush is one of the best experiences - perhaps the single best - we've had thus far on the Vita.

08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
+
+ Tremendous sense of freedom + beautiful graphics + charming game world + unique layout + overall good game controls.
-
- Slightly superficial narrative, - some mediocre levels.
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