Moving around is half the fun and half the game.
In the gaming world, we’re in an age of remasters. Some cash-grabs aside, the phenomenon has produced largely positive results. Whether it’s fixing god-awful framerates (see The Last of Us) or bringing older games to the newest console generation (see Uncharted), they’ve mostly found the path relevance. Gravity Rush: Remastered falls firmly in the latter category.
You play as “Kat,” a person who can control her own gravity, who embarks on a mission to save the floating city of Hekseville from a nearby gravity storm, which has brought amorphous blobs with obvious weak spots to terrorize the innocent at conveniently scripted times.
“Visually stunning” is a term too often used when describing a remaster. It’s like describing hot coffee as “tactilely scalding.” Hot coffee is supposed to be hot, and remasters are supposed to be stunning. If they weren’t, we’d have a problem. That being said, Gravity Rush: Remastered has beautifully glossed over all the textures of the previous game, but it’s still exceedingly obvious this was originally made as a PS Vita game. There’s only so much you can do, and Bluepoint Games did it all when re-developing this action-adventure title.
It’s a good thing too, because the gameplay involved in floating around a city as a “Gravity Shifter” would lose all its luster with even a momentary frame-rate drop. This is definitely one of those games, à la The Amazing Spider-Man 2 or Dying Light, where getting around is almost more fun than the actual game (in the case of the ill-fated Spider-Man sequel, it’s definitely more fun). The city is filled with tall buildings and narrow streets, which favors you hurling yourself through the air, shifting directions on a dime and collecting Precious Gems (part of the upgrade system) and other collectibles scattered throughout the vast and growing expanse.
However, the controls you can use to get around are not the best-integrated. On the Vita, the main way of getting around is aiming using the handheld’s built-in gyroscopic controls. While the PlayStation 4’s controller does have a gyroscope, it’s so much easier to just use the right analog stick that I can’t imagine anyone will make use of the motion controls.
There also seems to be a strange input bug encountered when running around. For reasons I can’t surmise, Kat will randomly flip back or sideways when running. This makes it difficult to do something as simple as starting a mission because approaching something on foot is sometimes constantly interrupted by Kat’s insatiable love for random gymnastics. I tried replicating this phenomenon by changing directions quickly, hitting each button or abruptly jerking the controller. Since none of those actions produced the same flip, I’m forced to believe it’s something wrong with the port itself.
The base game is largely the same, though the remastered version includes all the downloadable content as though it were a GOTY edition. While this does carry with it the same joy already described with the gravity shifting, it also carries more questionable artistic decisions, such as the lack of imagination in monster design. The writing in Gravity Rush also feels far too much like someone telling you what the story is about rather than letting you experience the story. Glossy textures and an improved framerate can’t fix that.
It is impressive how much variety the game is able to achieve in its combat system, and it does a good job of adding that variety throughout the game, letting you experience each new addition and twist. That being said, the real reason for Gravity Rush: Remastered's existence is (whether this offends you or not) to promote the upcoming sequel, Gravity Rush 2, due later this year. While you may see this as a bad thing, that’s probably due to the current culture of gaming where no one wants to be “sold” anything.
However, what the developers are doing with a remaster is not simply to squeeze more money out of the consumer; Gravity Rush: Remastered is giving people the opportunity to experience what is genuinely an interesting and entertaining game, one that they might have missed because of the platform on which it was released. Now, with a shiny new entry on the PlayStation 4, Gravity Rush can reach a wider audience, and if Gravity Rush 2 improves at all upon the first, that’s ultimately more of a benefit to the gamer, rather than the developer.