Gravity Rush: Remastered (PS4, 2016)

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Gravity Rush let me down. I was hyped for the game based solely on its amazing soundtrack. Even without playing it, one of the game’s main tracks was my ringtone for a very long while. When they announced the Playstation 4 remix of the game, I had to have it on day one. But, despite doing a lot of falling, I never quite fell in love with the game.

Almost immediately, Gravity Rush reminded me of GunValkyrie. If you are unfamiliar, it was a game for the original Xbox that had one of the most bizarre control schemes of all time, resulting in a steep learning curve that turned off most people. Gravity Rush’s controls work, but the entire concept behind the game and the controls that are necessary to make it work, also mean it is one of the weirder games I have played in recent memory. In other words, this game was always destined to be a darling for those who could love it despite its oddities, never because of them.

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In Gravity Rush, you play as Kat, a shifter who controls gravity. Kat’s abilities allow her to shift gravity on just herself, so instead of flying, your character is actually falling in any direction of your choosing as if gravity were pulling you down. In other words, Kat can fall upwards, sideways, or defy gravity by floating.

If this game does any one thing perfect, then it is the control of gravity. Even if it is a ridiculous idea and the controls take some getting used to, falling-as-traveling is fun. Instead of experience points from battle, Kat can collect various crystals hidden around the city that go toward upgrading powers. I enjoyed falling around town, exploring, and collecting those crystals, more than anything else.

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The game does have combat that works well enough, but it felt more like a game where the developers had a great initial idea and then couldn’t find a way to follow up on it. Gravity Rush plays more like a platformer than anything else, though instead of jumping, it is all about falling in the right direction before your meter runs out and reverts your gravity back to normal (i.e. downward). The combat revolves entirely around taking out orbs attached to enemies, and this includes all of the game’s boss characters. Other areas challenge Kat by manipulating or limiting severely her powers. The gameplay works okay, and I wouldn’t fault anyone for loving it, but outside the falling mechanics themselves, nothing feels particularly remarkable or worthwhile.

Worse, the game’s attempt at a story makes no sense. I am not sure if it was something lost in translation, but it has that typical feel of a Japanese story that didn’t quite make the leap into English. There’s a lot of humor, which helps, but none of my initial questions were answered and the story did nothing to goad me along further in the game. I only beat it because it was short and I mostly enjoyed falling all over the place.

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One thing that did survive the leap, the graphics for Gravity Rush are beautiful. I have seen comparisons to the Vita, and while it isn’t a giant gap, everything about the Remastered version works great. The art style is still gorgeous. The game runs as smooth as possible. Gravity Rush may not win anyone over on gameplay, but it has more style than most games. The city is beautiful and worth navigating just to see more of the art.

Finally, the music is just as phenomenal as I was led to believe. Each district of the city has a fitting theme. There are these jazz elements that I just cannot get out of my head either. Like the art style, the music of Gravity Rush lends so much to the style of the game. Whether the gameplay holds up or not, it would be hard to fault anyone for liking this game based on its style alone.

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Gravity Rush was a strange experience for me. Both a disappointment and a game I wanted to love. I enjoyed the gravity control powers, but neither the story nor the gameplay gave me much reason to use them. I would have prefer the game focus more on exploration and platforming than combat. While the boss fights were cool enough in their own right, none of the areas outside the city had any charm. They were mostly empty planes of existence setup solely around my abilities.

I won’t recommend Gravity Rush to anyone, but if you have a chance to play it, then take that chance. You may fall in love with it, but the game is worth trying at least. I am not upset that I bought it, but I am not any better off either. I am also doubtful about its eventual sequel on the Playstation 4, but, then again, we will see.

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2 thoughts on “Gravity Rush: Remastered (PS4, 2016)”

  1. I’m playing through this for the second time (first on Vita, now on PS4) and pretty much everything you’ve said rings true. The core gravity mechanics feel great, and control a lot more comfortably on PS4, but the story is insane and the combat is nothing to write home about.

    I hope the sequel offers more in the way of exploration. They could use the gravity mechanics to set up some really cool puzzles.

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