What a Gravity Rush!

Gravity Rush is an action/adventure game developed and published by Sony. It released on the PlayStation Vita in June of 2012. A remaster released for the PS4 in February 2016. I played the Vita version in 2020.

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Okay, give me a minute to try and describe this game to you. This is the best I could come up with so far:

  • An open-world steampunk Super Mario Galaxy
  • If Uraraka Ochako from My Hero Academia had her own action game – like an anime Assassin’s Creed
  • A 3rd-Person shooter where you are the projectile

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I’ve noticed that Sony likes to stick with cinematic, narrative-driven action games, such as The Last of Us, God of War, and Uncharted. Gravity Rush, in that case, feels decidedly like a Nintendo game – gameplay takes center stage, and the world and narrative revolve around it. By surgically removing Nintendo’s design philosophy from its loveable characters, Gravity Rush is a fantastic case study about Nintendo’s strengths and weaknesses.

You play as Kat, an amnesiac who can manipulate her own personal gravity. As she explores a bustling 1800’s-style floating city, trying to find out who she is and why she has this power, she also ends up pulled into an interdimensional conflict.

Like I said, Nintendo strengths and weaknesses.

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The core mechanic revolves around Kat zooming around the world freely, able to move gravity from the floor to a wall, to the ceiling, and back. It’s both disorienting and thrilling. Even after 20 hours, it still felt amazing to start and stop on a dime, flying past tall buildings and floating taxis. It’s similar to how climbing feels in Breath of the Wild — you feel so liberated and just want to explore everything. And the world is not only charming, it is littered with collectables that you can spend to increase your skills — longer air time, quicker turning, stronger attacks, the works.

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Your main attack will be a flying kick, which gives off a satisfying crunch, especially at high speeds. But you have other options as well, such as floating up random objects and hurling them at enemies, or using a sliding move to dodge large enemy attacks. At first it’s a bit difficult to aim Kat’s attacks properly, but most of the time you are able to self-correct mid-flight with the gyro controls and analog stick. Even near the end of the game, though, I still found myself accidentally missing and going off in a completely different direction. For me, the small annoyance was a price I willingly paid for having a unique and fun mechanic.

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Believe it or not, the story is actually more disorienting than the gravity spinning. Each chapter begins with gorgeous comic book-style cutscenes, and the beginning had a good setup (outside of the amnesia trope), with grounded mysteries that fit the steampunk aesthetic well. And then we meet interdimensional… gods? For a while the story lost me. I honestly don’t remember much of it. By the end of the game I had come back with a satisfying final boss, but the middle was a bit of a blur.

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Outside of the story, though, there are several challenges where you can put your gravity skills to the test – races, obstacle courses, and enemy gauntlets. I honestly found these more entertaining than the story itself, and its arcade-like nature was better suited for handheld play.

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I’m never not impressed with this game’s visuals. This is a clear show pony for the Vita, and even today I’m impressed such a detailed open world could work on the Vita’s hardware, years before Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey were on the scene. It doesn’t reach the same heights as those masterpieces, but I’d say that Gravity Rush is one of the best games on the Vita. It can be a bit difficult to find this game, but if you ever do see one in the wild, then by all means pick it up.

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