Gravity Rush Remastered
Developer: Bluepoint Games (Original game developed by Project Siren)
Platforms: PS4 (Original Game Available on PS Vita)
Release Date: February 3rd 2015(Australia/Europe), February 9th 2015 (US)
Price: $39.95 AU – Available Here / $29.95 US– Available Here
Gravity Rush Remastered is a remastering of the original early PS Vita title Gravity Rush (Gravity Daze in Japan). The game was one of the Vita’s few success stories with both good reviews and decent sales numbers. As is common with Sony to do in the wake of a sequel announcement, the original game has now been given a full HD face lift and a new home on the PS4 in the hopes of stirring up attention for the franchise. The game has always peaked my interest with it’s unique gravity manipulation mechanic, so having never owned a Vita I was very happy to be given the opportunity to test out the game on the PS4 and see if my interest was justified. I can now say it was.
Gravity Rush puts players in the shoes of a nameless girl dubbed Kat who wakes up with amnesia in a mysterious floating city. It is quickly revealed Kat has the ability to shift gravity thanks to her sidekick space cat called Dusty, basically turning the city into her personal playground. Unfortunately you also discover that people aren’t too fond of ‘gravity shifters’ and that something more sinister is going on behind the scenes in the city of Hekseville. The plot continues to evolve from there with the game dangling just enough carrots in front of you to make you want to push on with the main story and find out the mysteries behind Kat’s origins and the city.
While the story of amnesia and mysterious surroundings has no doubt been done before, the characters make this often used premise an interesting one. Kat is shown as a strong female protagonist right off the bat and it was enjoyable refreshing. Sure female protagonist are definitely becoming more popular and Kat is still heavily sexualised with her rather revealing outfit, but her actions and reactions from the games strong writing give her great character and strength, particularly among the thoughts she has to herself.
Kat is definitely my favourite character by far but the other characters you meet are also very unique and sport their own (often eccentric) personalities. I won’t spoil these characters as meeting them on your own is half the fun, but just know there are some fun and interesting interactions to be had between Kat and these characters as you progress through the game.
The remastered version of the game comes with all 3 DLC packs the original game eventually received, which does include some additional story content and a couple of bonus costumes that you can then wear while playing the main game. Based on some of the trophies I’ve already received from the DLC packs it seems like the DLC is woven seamlessly into the story which is always nice. You will get about 10-11 hours out of the main story here but those looking to complete all the side and challenge missions can add about 5 hours to that total.
My only real complaint about the story is in it’s presentation. The game uses a mix of comic book style panels and some rare cut scenes to tell it’s story which is fine (although a little outdated), but the main problem is in the transitions between the two styles and transitions at the end of chapters which feel really disjointed, especially when you may have just finished a big battle and then you’re just randomly standing in the middle of the city with no bridge in between. It also takes a bit of time for you to be able to move Kat around or bring up the menu after these moments while the game auto-saves, adding to frustrations. It’s not a big deal, just makes the game feel a little unpolished in this area.
Personally, the majority of my enjoyment of any action/platformer game comes from how fun it is to actually move your character around the world and luckily Gravity Rush nails it. How the developers have managed to turn being able to shift gravity in any direction into such a seamless experience is beyond me. Thanks to the minimal prompts and simple controls it’s intuitive, fluid, fast and tight all at the same time. It also never feels overpowered thanks to the gauge that limits how long you can stay airborne for before having to return to the ground. Gravity shifting is my favourite thing about this game and I’m going to sorely miss it next time I enter an open world game.
It’s a good thing the movement in the game is so great as the majority of your time in game will be spent exploring the decently sized city and it’s various areas which are unlocked as you progress through the game. The towns are fairly busy places, with lots of people walking around, conversations to have and both side and challenge missions to accept. These challenge missions have plenty of variety, from simple races with checkpoints where you will have to make full use of your gravity changing skills to challenges that will task you with taking out the most Nevi you can in the allotted time. Not all these missions are gold (for example, finding pages of a diary in a cobblestone street…) but the dud missions are few and far between.
The Nevi are your main enemy in the game and Kat has a few combat abilities to help her deal with them. Your most basic attack is a kick combo initiated with the square combo and like most action games you can ‘roll dodge’ with the R2 button. Kat of course also has her gravity maneuvers which allow her to gain great advantages on her opponent in terms of positioning and then use the powerful gravity kick, which is like a homing kick you perform in mid air which does more damage the faster you are traveling. The combat takes a while to get used to as you try to mix in fighting with flying but the learning curve is pretty small and you will be kicking Nevi butt in no time.
The enemies themselves are pretty basic, with each one having a massive glowing red weak spot which is begging to be attacked, but there is enough variety in their designs and attack patterns that the same strategy isn’t going to work on each one. The games difficulty is pretty low across the board and you probably won’t see a game over screen unless you get incredibly careless or don’t grab the numerous health crystals scattered around most of the battle areas. That being said those looking for a challenge will find it when trying to achieve gold medals in the 25 or so challenge missions.
There’s also a simple yet effective RPG system at work which lets you use purple crystals you find and are awarded in challenge missions to level up nearly every aspect of Kat’s abilities from her basic combat kick to gravity gauge usage. Each level up becomes marginally more expensive but brings with it significant improvements whether it be stronger kicks which can take an enemy out in one less attack or a gravity slide that is twice as fast as it was at level 1. A level cap on each ability which can be increased by doing missions and progressing the story ensures you don’t overpower any one ability too early.
If I have any complaints about the games gameplay it would mostly be in it’s main menu which I have to imagine is untouched from how it worked on the Vita. While it might of worked well on the small touchscreen it’s a little awkward to navigate using the PS4 controller, especially the games map which doesn’t make full use of the larger screen size. Like most of my other complaints about this game, it’s a pretty unimportant annoyance however.
While you can tell the game isn’t living up to the graphics the PS4 can produce, this is still a beautiful title. Running at 1080p and 60 Frames Per Second, the games cel shaded visual style shines on a HD Television. I haven’t been to Europe but the towns all have a kind of rustic European look to them, with each town having it’s own uniqueness on top of that such as the entertainment district which is full of lights and slight nods to adult entertainment. The game does feel a little washed out with a rather dull colour palette, however the tone fits the world and story nicely.
I love the full control you have over the camera in the game. Not only is it practical when shifting gravity, it also allows you to make some really awesome looking scenes as you’re soaring through the skies or rapidly crashing down to Earth. Those who like to frame shots in games will love that freedom in Gravity Rush. Saying that, while the camera is perfect 95% of the time there are still a few moments where it will obscure your vision of Kat, but considering your movement ability in this game I was very impressed by how well the camera was handled.
I do have a few minor complaints that do stop the games presentation from being perfect. There are a few lower resolution textures scattered around the world in some more obscure spots that I feel the developers didn’t expect people to find. There are also some rare occurrences where facial animations can seem a bit rigid and sometimes Kat’s animations when she approaches the ground are awkward and jumpy if you don’t hit it at the right angle.
I’ve obviously never shifted gravity before but I can imagine it sounds something like how it does in this game.The sounds used here are all fitting and often aid in gameplay as well, such as the alarm that goes off whenever your gauge is low or the sound that comes from the control when it refills. In terms of music there aren’t too many songs in the game but what is there compliments the environment incredibly well. A great example of this is when you first enter the city of Pleajeune and you can tell exactly what kind of town is. I wouldn’t call any track memorable for lack of a better word, but I did enjoy the songs and appreciated how each one seemed individually tailored for each specific moment or environment.
One thing that was a bit of a killer for me was the voice options. The game has only Japanese audio with no English translation, meaning the best us Westerners get are subtitles. Their isn’t too much spoken dialogue throughout the game as a lot of the speech is represented in text, but an English voice track would have been nice to have, although the Japanese audio sounds fine to be fair. There’s also a jarring bug where the sound gets much louder during the finishing moves on each boss which should have been easily scratched out before release.
Gravity Rush Remastered kind of makes me regret not picking up a Vita so I could play this terrific game (OK I still don’t want a Vita but you get what I’m trying to say). It has a mystical story full of unique characters and an interesting world to explore presented through excellent stylised graphics and audio. I haven’t even mentioned the awesome gravity shift ability that makes this at least a must try title for every PS4 owner. Together with a classic yet effective RPG system, engaging combat and gameplay that centers around the games core fun factor, it’s easy to overlook the mild difficulty and few small issues present within the game with so much positives to focus on. At a cheaper price point to boot, Gravity Rush is definitely worth a go if you’ve ever shown interest in the game or want to play something unique.
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