How many games have you played in which you navigate an open, three-dimensional environment by changing the pull of gravity and falling in any direction you wish? Gravity Rush is a game unlike any other. This Remastered release brings the Vita gem to PS4, along with the three subsequent DLC packs it spawned. If third-person action-adventure is your thing or you’re just looking for something different, Gravity Rush Remastered is an experience worth your time.
As Kat, a gravity shifter, the pull of gravity is in your control. Kat can’t fly. Rather, she can fall in any direction she likes. Traversal is a swift, yet satisfyingly precise affair, shooting across a landscape as if falling from the sky. Combat involves destroying the evil, bulbous Nevi with flying kicks, various super moves, or throwing barrels off the street. The appeal of this central mechanic is just how unique it is. It plays like a combination of Super Mario Galaxy, inFamous, and Ace Combat, though entirely different to each of them. There’s really nothing quite like it.
Built upon anime tropes and archetypes, Gravity Rush manages to tell a surprisingly interesting, engaging story full of memorable characters, enigmatic environments and curious metanarrative. Our mysterious protagonist, Kat, falls to the floating city of Hekseville, lacking all memory of who she is or from where she came. Shortly hereafter, she meets Dusty; an ethereal cat who looks like Tumblr incarnate and allows Kat to alter the direction of gravity. As Kat becomes familiar with her new abilities, she learns of gravity storms claiming parts of the city and embarks on a journey to bring them back.
What follows is a tale that feels more akin to an entire season of an anime than, say, a film. The branching arcs and unexpected turns throughout are some of Gravity Rush’s greatest qualities. What begins as a light-hearted story doesn’t shy away from police militarisation, child abandonment, and even Nazi iconography. Even as someone who played the initial Vita release, I was constantly surprised by just how many interesting, cool ideas play out, particularly in the latter half of the game.
An open city full of side challenges to partake in and Precious Gems to pick up weaves the otherwise straight-forward story missions into a cohesive, explorative structure. The joy of collecting Precious Gems throughout Hekseville, can’t be overstated. Picking these up from atop buildings, or beneath the city itself, is a gratifying use of Kat’s unique powers. The DLC from the original release act as side missions here too. Admittedly, these range from lame to great, and there are still only a handful in total, but they do an excellent job of slowing down the core narrative and providing some fun exposition.
Unfortunately, I can’t quite say the same for ‘challenge tasks.’ If ability upgrades had bestowed more tangible improvements than the typical strength or duration increases, I might have been more inclined to beat some more challenge tasks for the extra Precious Gems. Seeing as they rely so heavily on Kat’s abilities, though, I felt I was better off saving them until I had better upgrades after completing the main missions. By the time I reached this point, though, the gameplay was starting to feel a little tired. It’s certainly more than enjoyable enough to carry you through the main missions, but the repetitive nature of combat can certainly wear thin when the context of your mission isn’t taking some of your attention.
Gravity Rush has a distinct style. Though its character designs are entirely comparable to the typical anime heroes and villains, they’re all visually distinct and easily identifiable. What’s most aesthetically interesting about GR, though, is its non-anime influence. In the same way that Metal Gear feels like a very Japanese take on American design tendencies, Gravity Rush displays an interesting, European spin on an otherwise distinguishable aesthetic. Architecturally, Hekseville is much more reminiscent of Harry Potter than it is Dragon Ball Z. Grand, brick buildings make up the city with stone fountains and massive arches throughout. Characters speak in a fictional language that sounds very much like a mix between Japanese and French, and names of characters and settings share this quality. There’s a confidence and boldness to this style, and it’s just another thing so distinct, yet so wonderful, about Gravity Rush.
There aren’t any other games like Gravity Rush. If you like third-person action games, platforming, anime, or if you want to play something new and unique, give it a shot. A distinguished art style, an incomparable set of mechanics, and an interesting, enigmatic story are all things that make Gravity Rush so special. It isn’t often such fresh ideas see the light of day, but this is a game filled with them.