The story of Gravity Rush finds you taking control of Kat, a young amnesiac who soon discovers that she is a “Shifter,” one of a disliked minority who has the ability to shift how gravity works around her. With the tap of a button, you can cause Kat to float up from the ground and re-orient her onto another surface. Once you do that, another tap will cause gravity to shift so that this new surface becomes “down” for her … thus, you can run up walls, across the bottom of rafters or down the insides of giant pipes.
The controls offer many options for playing the game and allowing you to adjust to the shifting orientation, but this is a case of “too much of a good thing.” The touch and motion controls can be unresponsive at one moment, and then too responsive the next. I was never quite able to get the hang of the slide attack controls, which require you to use the Vita’s touchscreen while tilting the unit from side to side to guide Kat as she powerslides towards an enemy to knock them back. I also found that mechanic of tilting the Vita to aim Kat’s attacks was troublesome at times because the game would register movement as I adjusted on the couch, or compensated for a bump in the road on the bus.
As you work your way through the story of Gravity Rush, you’ll do battle with various types of Nevi, creatures that threaten the town of Hekseville. Kat’s story is slowly revealed as you go through various quests that are given as you make your way through Hekseville. This gives the game a familiar flow and feel to most other action platformers out there. The Escapist called the heroine of Gravity Rush “endearing” but I found her to have the emotional depth and complexity of an iPad. An iPad with a dead battery.
Luckily, the game does have enough strong points (not the least of which is the gorgeous cel-shaded art design) to keep the game in positive territory for me. The controls, while being occasionally flaky, do become easily remembered and natural over the course of the gameplay. Gravity Rush offers some great visuals and some innovative control schemes, but the game is hampered by the same controls being too finicky to be reliable. The combat against the forces of Nevi, while not ground-breaking, is busy enough to keep your attention as you make your way through the story of Kat.