Some games rely on one core mechanic to succeed. If this mechanic doesn’t earn a smile when it first turns up then there are only two options: either the game’s mechanic isn’t as great as it should be and the game won’t live up to any expectations of it, or the mechanic will be one of those that takes a while to settle in to. Fortunately, Gravity Rush’s core mechanic – the shifting of gravity to allow the main character to walk on any surface – is one of those that clicks as soon as it appears. As soon as I hit the shoulder button on the Vita to float up and then latch on to the side of the nearest building I smiled from ear to ear; clearly this was something special.[drop]Using the left to move the main character, Kat, and the right stick for camera control, Gravity Rush takes you into a mysterious world where gravity can be altered on a whim. With a tap of a button Kat flies up and floats in the air, allowing you to move the camera and aim towards the surface you’d like to land on. Once you hit your target you stay on it as if it were solid ground, the altered gravity holding you in place. Pretty much any surface you can see, from walls to screens, is fair game here.
The first section of what was on show acted as a tutorial, highlighting the incredible gravity-defying moves that Kat harnesses. After meeting up with her cat, the blond-haired protagonist chases down another person with what seems to be similar powers to hers, collecting orbs from walls and floating objects as she goes. Kat appears to be as confused as we are from the very start, but soon comes across a mugging in progress and that’s where the game really kicks off.
After knocking out all of these would-be criminals, you’re able to use your new found combat powers to take down alien enemies that litter the area ahead. The combat controls do seem relatively simple at first – it’s appears to be a one-button melee affair – but you soon learn to mix the gravity mechanic in with the fighting to create a sublime combat system.
The game plays out like a comic book – the interesting cel-shaded art style makes the three dimensional sections appear as though they’re inside a comic panel. It reflects the anime style of the game overall and with comic-like cutscenes in the mix as well, the game has a great visual style. One problem is that the character models could do with better anti-aliasing, as they appear somewhat jaggy; breaking the illusion of a illustrated, flowing art style.
Whilst there was no defined voice acting in the version I played – think Zelda’s noise and text dialogue format – this makes way for excellent sound design. The music is often soothing, almost like Child of Eden, and reflects the art style and gameplay extremely well. Wind swooshes past Kat as you hurtle towards a building and each melee hit lands with a thud. It’s a very aurally pleasing experience.[drop2]A boss stood between me and the end of the demo, acting as my final challenge in Gravity Rush. The boss, a larger, more monstrous version of the purple alien enemies that Kat had already tackled, was adorned with handily glowing weak points. The gravity manipulation mechanics made hitting these weak points a joy, the simplicity of melee attacks coming in handy. Even missing the enemy entirely felt good, slamming into a lamp post and having it bend out of shape looks fantastic.
After wearing down the boss via his various weak points, the game threw a finishing move in. This looked simply fantastic, with Kat flying high above her target before coming down with an impressive amount of force. This was a well chosen high point to end the demo on, leaving me with nothing but love and anticipation for the title.
Even after just this single demo Gravity Rush looks to be an excellent title for Vita. Providing the game’s core mechanic doesn’t get too repetitive in an extended session, this should be a brilliant game. It’s fortunate that this mechanic works so well, as it really is the central pillar around which the rest of the game is formed.
Without a doubt one to get your hands on when the Vita hits our sunny shores.