All this has got me in a daze.
Gravity Rush, or Gravity Daze as it's known in the East, has been commented on at length by GameRevolution's Heath_Hindman. I would even go so far as to say that Heath has been the one-man hype machine Sony needed to sell their open-world physics manipulator. [A more flavorful, Flava Flav, if you will. ~Ed. Anthony]
Heath wrote in a piece titled "Vita Gets Its First Must-Buy Game In June":
Gravity Rush is different from 99% of other games on "must buy" lists because of how innovative it is, how unique its gameplay is, and its entry into the discussion of games being art…. This kind of creativity must be rewarded if we want to keep developers and publishers interested in new ideas…. it is your civic duty to put some money towards Gravity Rush.
The trouble is, Heath's point is only really valid if the game is good. Is it?
Players take on the role of Kat, a girl fallen from the sky with no memory of her past. With her is a black cat she names Dusty who gives her the strange ability to manipulate gravity. Players can begin floating with the R button and then select a direction for gravity to take with the right stick or the accelerometer. Hitting the R button again sends Kat off in that direction.
As neat as that mechanic is, it's worthless without the city Kat explores. At first, the mechanic dwarfs the city, making it seem diminuitive and under developed. As the story progress Kat will reunite lost pieces of the landscape and join these districts by train or airboat.
It's these gameplay loops that make Gravity Rush a delight to play. Kat will use her varying powers, including gravity kicks and gravity slides to do away with enemies, from the grunts on the ground to the towering bosses.
The main attraction in Gravity Rush is exploring the city with your powers. Whether you're launching yourself straight up to catch a ledge on a tower or hurtling off the map, there's always something to do right around the corner. Gems, which allow Kat to fix broken parts of the city and level up her powers, litter the landscape.
Once you do fix up the city, those points unlock challenge missions that task Kat with defeating a set amount of enemies or reaching checkpoints within a time limit. These challenges reward you with even more gems, with different amounts for bronze, silver, and gold finishes.
All of this would be fun, but shallow if it weren't for the way Kat's abilities improve and grow more nuanced over time. You're given more gravity energy, more control, and stronger attacks as the story progresses. But even if that progression wasn't there, you'd probably continue Kat's adventure for the cutscenes alone.
Gravity Rush features gorgeous comic book cutscenes with panels that pop thanks to added depth that comes courtesy the Vita's accelerometer. As you tilt the Vita, the comic moves to create a sort of augmented 3D that breathes life into the characters on screen.
What's more, the story told in these pages actually entertains and delights. Kat is an endearing heroine, one that you'll care about if only for her goofy grace. Exploring the city will reveal more characters caught in the interdimensional soup all this gravity switching has stirred up. By the end of Kat's journey, I felt a mix of melancholy and joy, and it wasn't because of the gameplay.
Oh, and the game is damn gorgeous, if you couldn't tell by the screenshots in this review. If you've got a Vita, you owe it to yourself to pick up Gravity Rush. It might not be a system-seller, but it certainly proves to be a must-buy.