Having hit the ground running with a strong launch line-up, PlayStation Vita seems to have lost some of its momentum; a situation not helped by a dearth of quality software and the rather lacklustre Resistance: Burning Skies. It’s unlikely that Gravity Rush will help Vita regain its drive – its too quirky and leftfield a game to sell a system – but it richly deserves to. This isn’t just the most exciting, charming and imaginative games to hit Vita, but one of the most distinctive games you might play all year.
How should we describe it? Well, it’s a sort of free-roaming action adventure game, with elements of platform games and the Crackdown/Prototype/inFamous superhero genre. It takes place in a weird floating steampunk city called Hekesville, and gravity shifts provide its central mechanic.
Squeeze the right shoulder button and our heroine, an amnesiac teenager known as Kat, floats into the air. Squeeze it again and she floats towards whatever the reticule is pointing at. Tap the X button and she speeds towards it. Tap the square button and she zooms in faster with a beefy flying kick.
If Kat hits a surface, horizontal or vertical, she’ll stick to it as if it were the ground. That is, she’ll stick to it until her power meter runs down, at which point she’ll start plummeting towards the ground. Luckily, Kat seems impervious to damage from falling and the meter charges up again quite quickly. Given that Hekesville spends its time floating in the air, you usually won’t hit anything before the meter recharges and you can float again.
The concepts manage to be simultaneously simple to grasp and quite difficult to get your head and fingers around, but within an hour or so of starting play you’ll be pulling off impressive feats of flying, wall-walking, ceiling-walking and brawling likes its second nature. There’s the odd bit of combat against Hekesville’s invading monsters, the bizarre and blobby Navi, but it’s not particularly intense or particularly challenging, and the focus of the game is really on wandering the streets of Hekesville and helping the local population out. There are municipal facilities in need of powering up, courtesy of the glowing gems spread lavishly around the squares and rooftops, the local cops are trying to apprehend a master thief, schoolgirls go missing and there’s a dark-haired girl with similar powers to you who seems to want a fight.