A Look Back at Gravity Rush

I really wanted to love Gravity Rush. The brief demo I played prior to release got me really pumped for what I believed would be the Vita’s first killer app.

The core gravity-shifting mechanic is a double-edged sword. The sense of speed, the animation, and the cinematic camera angles make for a thrilling experience while exploring, but in the heat of battle, things can get a little clunky and cumbersome. Enemies become difficult to track, getting into position to deliver an attack takes a bit too long and becomes frustrating when speedy enemies dash away just when you find the sweet spot, and Kat’s single aerial flying kick is lamentably the only weapon in her arsenal outside of the special attacks, which seems somewhat broken in a game where you spend most of your time falling (technically) through the sky. It certainly doesn’t ruin the experience, but I became painfully aware of it toward the end of the adventure.

At times, the world can feel like an empty lobby. There’s a lot of room to explore in Heckseville, but not a lot of incentive to do it. You’ll find bountiful amounts of crystals and occasionally come across a married couple who continually phase in and out of your reality like ghosts, and not much else. The NPCs that you can speak with change between missions and are marked on your map along with a decent amount of side missions (composed of only a handful of types). You’ll talk to a few NPCs, do a side-mission or two, and then engage the next chapter of the story. Once you’ve finished it, you’ll talk to the new NPCs, do some side missions…

The production values and fantastic art direction keep Gravity Rush from slipping into mediocrity. The sweeping score captures the action perfectly, and the environments are impressively detailed (though, the sections could stand to be a bit more visually distinct from each other) with park benches, NPCs milling about, and a lot of other great details. It’s a shame that your interaction with any of it is minimal.

There are no interiors to explore, though there are some interesting dreamlike environs to soar through. Throughout, I couldn’t help feel as though the game suffered for this. I could only imagine the kinds of dungeons and puzzles that could have taken advantage of the gravity shifting mechanic.

The ending leaves the door wide open for a sequel, and while I don’t think I’ll be playing through Gravity Rush again anytime soon, I’m eager to see what’s in store for Kat and her friends in the future.

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