Review: Gravity Rush

About this Game

Gravity Rush

Publisher

Sony Computer Entertainment

Developer

SIE Japan Studio

Release Date

June 12, 2012

Console

PlayStation Vita/PlayStation 4

Time to Plat

~20h

Platinum Difficulty

Easy

Online Trophies?

No

Difficulty Trophies?

No

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You Never Forget Your First

Gravity Rush was my first Platinum Trophy, actually achieved on Playstation Vita. I picked up the console after trying out this game on MrZhangetsu’s, but at the time didn’t have much money and had to wait a couple of months playing PSP ports of Ratchet & Clank games and a quirky party game called “Frobisher Says” (good fun!), until I finally saved up a bit of money and picked up Gravity Rush for my Vita.

I was enamoured with it from the first 30 minutes. The characters are oozing charm and there’s that signature Japanese crazy sense of humour running throughout.

We play “Kat”, a very cutesy but determined young girl who occasionally comes across as a bit of an air-head when the plot calls for it. Kat is accompanied by a snow-globe of a cat by the name of “Dusty” who gives her a very unique set of abilities. Dusty allows Kat to control Gravity within proximity of herself. Using this ability she can “fall” in any direction and even affect the gravity of specific objects.

Gravity Rush Remastered | Kat
The charming Kat!

Kat wakes up in an alleyway on a small-ish floating city with no idea where she came from or why there’s a super-powered cat giving her insane abilities. Throughout her journey to discover who she is and why she’s there, she meets many characters, the most important of whom are;

  • Aujean and Eugie – An irritating father and son duo who guilt Kat into performing many menial tasks for them
  • Aki – An absolute weirdo of a fortune-teller who gets her predictions from a creepy doll/puppet called “Pandora”
  • Syd – An incompetent policeman who seems suspiciously smitten with Kat
  • Gade – An old rough-looking man who seems to know more about Kat – and the strange world she found herself in – than he lets on
  • Cyanea – A young blue-haired girl who is quite slow, quiet and also an amnesiac
  • Alias – The game’s initial villain who is quite an enigma of a man – wearing parts of a hoover and some rags strapped to his head as well as a full pinstripe suit

On her journey, she also meets a couple more determined and super-powered women able to match her abilities in combat, either by the same means or mechanical means, these girls are; “Raven” who is accompanied by a raven and “Yunica” who uses various military tech to keep up.

Gravity Rush Remastered | Pleasjeune District
Pleajeune district. Likely a port-manteau of “Pleasure” and the french word for young; “Jeune”

The game takes place in “Hekseville” which consists of multiple main floating locations;

  • Auldnoir – A crumbling residential/commercial area – complete with town square and fountain – fashioned from dirty brick with a heavy gothic architectural style
  • Endestria – An industrial area consisting of various large chimneys, warehouses, factories and even a lighthouse
  • Vendecentre – A very New York-inspired big city with towering buildings and apartment blocks
  • Pleajeune – Somewhat of an unspoken red light district with quite a Vegas-casino vibe – although interestingly also home to a College and hundreds of high-school teens
  • Lastly, “Boutome” which has something of a “Lost Boys” feel going on as it’s an entire village built and maintained by children who had fallen from one of the other floating islands.
Gravity Rush Remastered | World Pilar
The endlessly tall “World Pillar”

These locations all orbit the “World Pillar”, which as you might imagine, is a large pillar reaching down far beyond Boutome and up far above the clouds.

The floating islands are, of course, interconnected by an intricate floating railway system with a station on each island and various inhabitants also have rickety floating vehicles which incredibly slowly glide through the air around Hekseville. Kat has no need for these, however, as she can simply use her gravity powers to “fall” towards the next island. Or, alternatively, she uses the Sewers for some reason, probably due to her living in an exposed sewage pipe underneath Auldnoir.

Kat’s search for answers brings her to various areas known as the “Rift Plains”; trippy zones which look like the developers got fed up with an area they were building and threw it in a blender then turned gravity off. Traversing these areas and reaching your goal typically means using Kat’s gravity powers to “fall” from rock to rock, fighting enemies along the way. These enemies are known as “Nevi”. Glowing red goop-creatures who can only be defeated by breaking the glassy marble-like cores which lie exposed across their body.

Gravity Rush Remastered | Nevi
One of many forms of Nevi

These Nevi, like Kat, appear to be new to the world of Hekseville and so the obvious conclusion is that the two events are somehow related. This motivates Kat to use her powers to defend Hekseville from the Nevi infestation in the hopes it will lead to information about herself and hopefully help out some of the friends she makes along the way.

Eventually, she comes face-to-face with Raven. An enemy at first, Raven’s powers are identical to Kat’s so she attempts to befriend Raven in order to learn what Raven can tell her about her powers, origins and purpose.

The visual style of the game is incredibly unique. A gritty but light-hearted mixture of Manga and Western Comic-book styles, the hand-drawn graphics and cell-shaded 3D-work blend together beautifully and create a totally one-of-a-kind world of mystery to freely explore. The game’s story is told through a mixture of 3D-animated cutscenes and panel-by-panel pseudo-animated comic-book pages which also have a very satisfying perspective effect on them, making the panels truly come to life with more dynamism and action than a standard graphic-novel-style cutscene could give you.

Gravity Rush Remastered | Comic Panel
A hilariously out-of-context panel from one such graphic novel-style cutscene

For more basic dialogue, there are dialogue overlays which use small avatars of each character and hand-drawn speech bubbles to develop the plot. I fell deeply in love with the amount of character and emotion they managed to squeeze into the small character-avatars used during these dialogue exchanges.

There are various pick-ups in the game. Your standard health (green) and stamina (blue) pickups which are dotted around areas where they’d be most useful, and purple gems of various sizes which act as the currency used to unlock and upgrade Kat’s abilities. This currency can be found heavily peppered around rooftops, alleyways and even underneath the floating islands, giving you full purpose and warrant to explore as much as possible.

Gravity Rush Remastered | Precious Gems
“Precious Gems” on a Pleajeune rooftop

You can also acquire these “Precious Gems” (imaginative name) by completing challenges dotted around the game. These can either be time trials or combat challenges and will have 3 score targets for bronze, silver and gold medals, each more difficult than the last. Getting a gold medal will net you the maximum number of “Precious Gems” from that challenge, the aim being to beat them all in order to upgrade Kat further – making the game easier for yourself.

Playing the Game

While this game was my first platinum trophy and I definitely love Gravity Rush and the setting SCE Japan Studio have created, the Vita version is a pain in the ass. When “Falling” you need to aim yourself using some very sensitive and finicky motion controls which can make it feel like simply getting around in the game is an enormous chore. Of course, you could bypass this by using the right-stick and keeping the Vita incredibly still, but the thumbsticks on the Vita just don’t have the precision you need, especially during timed events.

Luckily the game and it’s setting was enough to keep me invested until that glorious Platinum-popping moment, but something joyous happened a few years after the game’s release…

A PS4 port. This port of the game had improved graphics and improved controls. Controls which only became easier to wrangle with the beautiful Dualshock 4 controller in hand. Because this version of the game improves so much on an already incredible game and removes a lot of the annoying aspects, I’ll focus on this version for the review (Plus my Vita doesn’t want to turn on lately…)

The improvements to the controls simply come from the extra buttons available on the Dualshock 4 as well as the improved precision available via the DS4 thumbsticks.

To initiate a “fall” in Gravity Rush – the best way to get around – you first need to unshackle yourself from Gravity by tapping PS4 R1 button icon, this will cause Kat to float in zero-G on-the-spot while you use the motion controls or PS4 right-stick to aim in the direction you’d like gravity to take effect, then tap PS4 R1 button icon again (or PS4 X button icon) to begin falling that way. Once in freefall you can speed fall by holding PS4 X button icon to increase gravity and travel much faster, however, this uses Kat’s stamina faster too so you may need to ensure there are some Blue pickups or rest-stops on the way to your goal.

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Speed Falling

You could, of course, just walk around as normal using PS4 Left stick icon, but with powers like these, who needs feet? You can even “Gravity Slide” across the map by holding PS4 L2 button icon+PS4 R2 button icon simultaneously. This will have Kat tilt gravity for herself by a slight degree, making her move across any flat surface as though sliding down a sharp decline. This can even be used to slide from floor to wall to ceiling, as long as there is some sort of ramp or gradual curve as opposed to a flat 90-degree angle.

That about covers getting around in the game. It’s a very fun system but can be quite tricky to get the hang of and even once you’re a pro some of the environments can be incredibly difficult to navigate – especially when you’re against the clock!

Combat is the second-biggest mechanic prominent within the game, and with Kat’s gravity powers at hand, there are quite a few unique and interesting ways to bring an end to the hordes of Nevi blocking her path.

Basic controls include pressing PS4 X button icon to jump in the air and Ps4 Square button icon to start throwing feet and deal some light damage with kicks. You can also dodge in a direction by swiping your thumb across the touchpad in the direction you’d like to dodge, but I find this is too awkward of a movement to be able to do quickly enough so never bothered with it.

Most of the gravity-based moves all start with a quick tap of PS4 R1 button icon to put Kat into Zero-G mode. You can then do one of the following:

  • PS4 triangle button icon + PS4 Left stick icon triggers a special gravity attack (different depending on the direction of PS4 Left stick icon)which needs a fully-charged special gauge.
  • Ps4 Square button icon after aiming towards an enemy will perform a gravity kick. A flying-kick with increased force due to Kat’s gravity abilities, which also usefully homes into the nearest enemy weak spot to your reticule.
  • PS4 Circle Button icon Stasis Field. This will cause objects in an area around Kat to enter zero-G and float within proximity of her. Pressing PS4 Circle Button icon again will fire these objects one-at-a-time in the direction of your reticule, allowing for long-range damage to enemies. (Can also be performed when grounded) 
Gravity Rush Remastered | Gravity Kick
Using a Gravity Kick on a Nevi

When opening the game’s map, you will see various icons indicating the different missions and side-missions available at that point, as well as Manhole covers which can be used to fast-travel around the map.

Gravity Rush Remastered | Auldnoire map
The in-game map

Platting the Game

My approach to this game was to open the map, see what was there, and complete every mission and challenge which wouldn’t further the main story. Once I ran out of side-missions and challenges to complete I would complete the main story missions until the map refreshed with new side-content. I pretty much repeated this process throughout the entire game.

Sometimes, challenges proved much too difficult to complete when they were first available, so I would get as many of the 3 medals as I could just to squeeze it for precious gems and then leave it until I had upgraded a skill which would be useful for getting the challenge’s gold medal…

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Each of the challenges have 3 medals to earn, Bronze, Silver and Gold

Throughout this entire process, I would keep an eye out for Manhole Covers and Precious Gems in order to fulfil the following trophy requirements:

Going Underground

Discovered every manhole

Gem Collector

Collected a total of 20,000 precious gems.

Gem Aficionado

Collected a total of 40,000 precious gems

Often I would take a different or longer route to my destination just to ensure I was going somewhere with fresh uncollected precious gems to grab. The Manhole covers were usually quite difficult to find, but you can see them clearly marked once you’re near enough. I would typically just use common sense and my understanding of game design to figure out where they could be found. For example asking myself where I would put a fast travel point, based on location and distance from other Manhole Covers.

In terms of collectables, there was one other trophy which required me to look for secrets.

Lost in Time and Space

Heard the mysterious couple’s complete story.

While I kept my eye out for this couple as I explored, the whole point of them is that you’d need to really go out of your way to find them. Occasionally I’d spot a secret-looking floating rock or bit of pipe and go check it out but other than that I was never going to find them naturally. This one ended up being a bit of a grind and one that I left until last. 

The story they tell is wrapped in enigma and mystery and definitely quite interesting to read. Of course, if you can’t be bothered exploring to find these naturally, there are guides out there like this one on PSNProfiles.

Other than the above trophies, story-related trophies and combat trophies you’ll likely pop naturally, the only thing to look out for really are special hidden Nevi bosses for the below trophies:

Ancient Game Hunter

Defeated the rare Nevi in Rift Planes: The Ruins

Burning Game Hunter

Defeated the rare Nevi in Rift Planes: The Inferno.

Illusory Game Hunter

Defeated the rare Nevi in Rift Planes: The Mirage.

As you can see, these require you to look for each boss hidden away in each of the “Rift Plane” areas. The hardest of these is easily “Burning Game Hunter” as the boss fight is in an enclosed area where the walls, floor and ceiling are all made of lava and cannot be touched.

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The Inferno Rift Plane

They’re all pretty tough so I left this until I’d beaten the story and purchased a majority of the available skills just for that extra edge in battle.

In the end, they’re fairly easy to find but if you need help again, there’s always the guide on PSNProfiles

In Summary…

All in all, I loved, and continue to love, Gravity Rush. More for its quirky world and interesting characters than for the actual gameplay, but the gameplay proves fun enough to never really get caught up in any frustration.

I platted this game long before Trophy Hunting had even occurred to me, and once the game was re-released on PS4 I didn’t spare a moment to pick it up and start platting it. It’s easily one of the best PS Vita games and Kat, her friends, and Hekseville will go down in Playstation history as one of the exclusive IPs that make Playstation the place to be.

Verdict

Plat

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I would 1000% absolutely recommend you at least play this game through to the end, enjoy the story, meet the strange characters, and enjoy exploring Hekseville to it’s fullest. But I really think it’s worth the extra small push it takes to acquire the platinum trophy and add it to your cabinet, even if it’s your first.

Pros

  • Unique and alluring setting
  • Quirky and fun characters
  • Fun gravity-based mechanics

Cons

  • The controls can be difficult to adjust to
  • Combat can be repetitive and stale at times
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Platinum Trophy

I’d be doing myself a disservice if I awarded this game anything but a platinum trophy, it stands as one of the Vita’s greatest games and shines ever brighter on PS4.

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About the Author

More fond of single-player experiences and story-driven games than anything else, TheDblTap has a keen eye for secrets and collectables, a skill which serves him well as a Trophy Hunter. However, with little patience and poor timing, he can struggle where MrZhangetsu would succeed.

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