Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Gravity Rush

Review: Gravity Rush

8:30 AM on 05.24.2012 // Jim Sterling

Of all the titles showcased ahead of the PlayStation Vita's launch, Gravity Rush (or Gravity Daze as it's known in Japan) turned the most heads. One of the more unique action games to be released on any system, complete with a stylish cel-shaded visual approach, what was once planned as a PS3 title looks like a natural fit on Sony's fresh-faced handheld. 

Gravity Rush is certainly full of good ideas, and the charm drips from it like pink maple syrup. Strangely, it's when it's not being a game that it succeeds the most, while applying defined rules and structure to its ideas appears only to hold it back.

Gravity Rush (PlayStation Vita)
Developer: Sony Japan Studio
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Released: June 12, 2012
MSRP: $39.99

Gravity Rush revolves around an amnesiac girl called Kat who, aided by her magical cat Dusty, becomes something of a superhero in the floating town of Hekseville. Hekseville has been split apart, its multiple locales strewn across a sea of deadly gravity storms, while a mysterious race of creatures known as the Nevi threaten the peace. Armed with her ability to shift the world's gravitational pull, Kat must save the city and uncover the truth behind the Nevi. Or something like that. It all begins to stop making sense halfway through. 

Something of an open-world superhero game, only with a very specific super power in a rather small world, players are encouraged to explore Hekseville by bending gravity to their will ("shifting," to use the game's terminology). With the press of a shoulder button, Kat will start to float, allowing players to freely move the camera and select a destination. Once selected, the destination will serve as a new gravitational point, and the entire world will alter its physics. Using this power, Kat can "fly" across the city at a rapid pace, although she's actually falling by turning the world on its side, upside down, and any direction in between. Think the anti-grav environments in Visceral's Dead Space, but spread across a more open and free world. Oh, and don't try to think about how Kat and the civilians are surviving falls of several hundred feet. It's not important. 

When called upon to fight, Kat can land simple kicks to the Nevi in order to shatter their glowing weak spots. However, she's far more deadly when using the air to her advantage. While shifting, players can launch devastating gravity kicks by selecting a weak point and launching an attack from afar. Kat will fall toward the Nevi at a rapid pace, landing a huge kick that deals a lot more damage. 

Gravity Rush is more about exploration than combat. Hekseville is littered with purple gems that can be collected and spent on upgrading Kat's powers, making her more durable, powerful, and better able to exploit her shifting ability -- though I felt many upgrades were incremental enough to not make too big a difference in the long run. These gems can be hidden atop tall buildings or underneath the city itself, and uncovering new pockets of gems is a rather compelling experience. Even with upgrades not feeling too spectacular, it nonetheless grows addictive to find the currency necessary for them. There are also plenty of side missions to unlock and play, which will reward Kat with even more gems. 

Navigating Hekseville is, simply put, a joy. There's something breathtaking about falling upwards, changing directions, and whizzing past buildings at an angle, and the magic never quite seems to dissipate. When Kat gains the ability to slide along surfaces and pick up objects with a gravitational pull, the potential to feel spectacularly superior is immense. It's great fun to just fly around the world, come crashing down to Earth, and terrify the poor locals who never seem to cope with the shock of it all. 

The problem is, when it comes time to stop simply exploring and get on with actual objectives, the free-floating mayhem abruptly ceases to become enjoyable. For one thing, the power to gravity shift is not used in any greatly unique way, with story missions almost always involving combat sequences or back-and-forth escort objectives. The side quests, too, are limited in scope, consisting entirely of time-attacks and races. What's more, Kat's powers just aren't fun when they come with rules attached. The chaotic power to shift gravity is a messy way to travel, which is fine when there's no pressure, but it makes working to a time limit very frustrating. Having to get one's bearings and cope with the constant shifts in perspective just isn't conducive to winning a checkpoint race. 

The combat, too, suffers due to some fairly sloppy targeting. While I absolutely love the combat in theory, it doesn't work a lot of the time, with Kat's gravity kick proving insurmountably unwieldy. Most of the enemies move too swiftly and jerk around a lot, meaning they're often gone before Kat can reach them. Even if they remain in place, there's often a good chance that the punt will still miss, as Kat harmlessly glides off the opponent's body and kicks the great yonder behind it. Fights against large creatures with multiple weak points can become skin-crawlingly frustrating, while there is an ever-present threat of Kat smacking into a small bench or tree that might be near any potential targets. While our hero seems able to glide smoothly over her enemies, she can't seem to do it for anything else in the way of them. 

When it works, fighting feels fantastic. Landing a successful attack from far enough away to smash an opponent in one hit is the source of some stupendous gratification, and the Nevi themselves are so varied and bizarre that encountering them always seems remarkable. Shifting into monsters, shifting away, and dodging projectiles is all great when it comes together. It's just that it comes together only half the time, with the other half consisting of wanting to throw the Vita against a wall. 

One thing that can be said in Gravity Rush's favor is that the controls are surprisingly well adjusted to the gameplay. Touch and gyroscopic interactions have been nicely blended with traditional buttons to create a game that feels functional and comfortable to use. The touch screen is used for menus, and to dodge attacks. Pressing two thumbs at the bottom of the screen also allows Kat to slide along any surface, with tilt controls taking over her steering. It's quite intuitive, and the sensible touch areas mean that the screen becomes an extension of the buttons, rather than a forced move away from them. It's exactly how a Vita game should feel in the hand, and I can't praise it enough. 

That said, there's no escaping the fact that Gravity Rush is a better game when it's not being a game. Its mechanics are much better suited to the exploration that Hekseville offers than the dodgy combat sequences and the trite time trials it pushes to the fore. It never stops being fun to fall from A to B, but it's never quite enjoyable to do any of the mandatory busywork. The objectives themselves are either tedious or aggravating (there are attempts at stealth sections that go beyond remedial), and it's not like the story is sensible enough to be worth fighting for, although Kat makes a very adorable protagonist. 

Gravity Rush is certainly an odd duck. Its controls work perfectly, it's fundamentally polished and fluid, yet still the game doesn't quite work. It seems to be that, after getting everything in great shape, Sony Japan just used it in the wrong way. Gravity Rush's appeal comes not from picking up objects and moving them elsewhere within a time limit. It's not in wrestling with an unwieldy targeting system. It's in simply existing in Hekseville, and playing around at one's own pace. If less emphasis were put on objectives, and more on building a true sandbox world with more emphasis on discovery at one's own pace, I think we could have had something special on our hands. 

As it stands, Gravity Rush is a decent attempt at bringing something fresh to the PlayStation Vita. The fact that it works as well as it does is commendable, and it's amazing how much fun it is to essentially plummet from place to place. Sadly, the game couldn't just be about that, and the direction it chooses to go in doesn't play to the strengths of the concept. Fighting the Nevi is the interactive equivalent of building up to a sneeze that never comes, and everything else feels like a desperate play for more time. 

Gravity Rush is worth checking out, especially with the Vita being so quiet since launch, and as the system's library fills, this title will still stand out as something uniquely charming. However, one must be honest about the questionable design decisions that lets the whole thing down on a dismayingly consistent basis. Gravity Rush has everything it needs to be something great, but it takes all the wrong forks in the road and ends up rather unfulfilling. It's a real shame, too, because you it's so clear how brilliant it truly could have been.



Gravity Rush - Reviewed by Jim Sterling
Amicable - A presentable but unmemorable time. Focusing on the bright spots helps, and I appreciate the effort, but I won't be playing this repeatedly.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Jim Sterling, Former Reviews Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure JimSterling Tips
Destructoid reviews editor, responsible for running and maintaining the cutting edge videogame critique that people ignore because all they want to see are the scores at the end. Also a regular f... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Gravity Rush

  Sep 21

Gravity Rush wins Game of the Year award, sequel teased

More like 'Game of the Year Rush', am I right?

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

hermosas chicas ucranianas

So that just happened: The Talos Principle

Sick, Sad and just dumb news: 25th November - Leighapalooza

Context Matters! Fanservice's Secrets EXPOSED!

To editorialize or not to editorialize: An editorial

Tiny Dangerous Dungeons REVIEW - The Pocket Metroidvania

Cblogs of 11/24/15 + Big Ass Fort

Primal Carnage: Extinction Review (PS4)

Belated Spoiler-Free SOMA Review

Friday Night Fights: The Blackest Of Fridays

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

KyWii avatarKyWii
Happy Thanksgiving all! Load up on carbs and then get back to playing Fallout 4.
Archelon avatarArchelon
New extended television spot for The Force Awakens! [youtube][/youtube]
TheKodu avatarTheKodu
I dunno if I just had a freak incident but I think Ubisoft may have just changed the Renown gain in Rainbow Six Siege to be less shit as in overnight they've patched it. If true, kinda good on them.
Atleastimhousebroken avatarAtleastimhousebroken
Does it mess with anyone else's head that when beating a SMBW level in Mario Maker the music doesn't do that little 'booowoo oop' at the end. [youtube][/youtube]
ScreamAid avatarScreamAid
I've developed a new hobby to indulge in while on Skype with friends: creating stupid Sonic OCs. I have so much fun making them for some weird reason, and once I have enough of them I might as well post a c-blog of them, am I right? Look out in the future
El Dango avatarEl Dango
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Boy howdy, does Divinity: Original Sin take a while to get going. But, it was worth it in the end. Probably the most hardcore RPG I've played. Stellar writing, at that! Combat's pretty amazing too. [img][/img]
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
So it seems I've locked into the Neutral ending for SMT IV and now I need to find specific challenge quests and complete them...? How (un)fun! Google is your friend - the videogame.
Riobux avatarRiobux
Interested in playing some Pathfinder? Trying to arrange a Dtoid Pathfinder group for Saturday nights (GMT) on Skype & Roll 20. If you're new to pen-and-paper RPGs, I don't mind at all and can bring you up to speed quick. Just comment if interested.
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
Local convention had a great selection of game soundtracks 5 for $20! I got Halo 3: ODST (2 disk!), Gears of War 2, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Darksiders 2 (2 disk!), and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Some of the best soundtracks of the last 7 years!
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Photos and videos are back on quickposts but clipping on some devices. We're going to add a new quickpost editing interface so photos and videos can only be displayed one way (a la twitter) to solve this. Also, a My cBlog link was added to your user menu
Flegma avatarFlegma
Machine-washed my Wii Fit meter yesterday by accident. Took the battery out and let it dry for the night. Luckily the meter still worked - but it had counted a fair number of steps more that day.
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Finally killed Ludwig, now if I could only get passed the 2 hunters on the second floor. that 2 some is rather annoying,and her holy blade kills in only a few hits. wish mine was that strong.
Casus Gaming avatarCasus Gaming
After reading a blog post about DMC4 I decided to watch all the cutscenes on Youtube. Tried the games years ago and couldn't get into them, but man that shit was stylish. Likeable protagonists, intense drama... still think DmC reboot wasn't that bad tho.
lewness avatarlewness
me on 1st ff14 raid (void ark): ooh so many people and lights, so many lights, lights, fuck I can't see, what is happening, i don't understand, is it tuesday already, get on the platform fuuuuck, wow void helm
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Just a reminder that you have until the 30th to get your Bloggers Wanted post, "Thankful it's over" in. I'm either going to tell you how I ruined my best online gaming experience or rip Twilight Princess a new one. Maybe both.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Huh. I just found out the developers of Hatred (remember that controversy?) region-locked their game to prevent it from being accessed by Australians. Destructive Creations are more censor-happy than Nintendo, it seems. Where's the outrage?
Oh yeah, I have an account on this site.
Parismio avatarParismio
Ever wanted to get that item behind that safe in the beginning of Fallout 4?:
Shinta avatarShinta
Got Resident Evil 4 Wii for $5. Uh ... this might be my favorite version. I'm just getting headshots nonstop. Did I miss any other Wii games that are frequently overlooked? Like, really obscure Wii games that no one talks about? I'm interested.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -