Gravity Rush Import Hands-On: A Possible Killer App for the PlayStation Vita

We play through the first few hours of what could be the definitive game for Sony's tech-heavy handheld.

Readers may recall a recent article on the PlayStation Vita that criticized the lack of "killer app" titles among other things. After playing through what seems to be the latest open-ended adventure du jour from Silent Hill director Keiichiro Toyama since his stint with Siren for the PlayStation 3, there may be a silver lining within all of the device's proclaimed gloom and doom. If the four to five hours we've spent in Gravity Rush was any indication of its quality, we could very well have both a sleeper hit and a darn great justification for buying a new gaming portable device.

To elaborate further on the last write-up, you play a girl named Kat who ended up in the town of Hekseville in nothing more than her unique one-piece uniform, a mission to rebuild the dying world of Auldnoir, and the awe-inspiring power to control gravity in her vicinity. Thanks to her black-glowing cat who tags alongside the blond heroine, Kat can float and fly around unreachable places, stand on the sides of buildings and any other flat surface in any position, use her stasis powers to carry objects and even human beings, and perform a gravity slide that turns her into the world's antigravity equivalent of Tony Hawk.

Newton's Law of Motion being put to practical use here.

The latter technique required us to touch and hold the left and right edges of the screen; as she slid, we tilted the PS Vita left and right to steer her and shook the device to make her jump sky high. Kat can also speed up her gravity shift and descent by holding down the X button so that she can get to places quicker.

She will need all the help she can get because she's up against a group of black and red monstrosities called the Nevi that seek to eradicate all life on Auldnoir. These enemies come in many shapes and sizes, ranging from the small versions that fling black goo at our heroine to hulking brutes that can somehow elongate their hands to smash her to bits. The Nevi have a glaring weakness, however, as they have red glowing crystals that serve as their weak spots. If you hit them, they dissipate into nothingness. Some Nevis have more than one glowing crystal, and a few of them even have shell carapaces that require a good bashing before they can be damaged.

Kat is definitely a kitten with more than just an attitude and claws, as her repertoire of combat moves are simple yet effective. She can do a flurry of kicks when on the ground and can also dodge (via swiping the touch screen). To use her patented gravity kick where she floats in the air and speeds into full force feet first onto an enemy's weak spot, you make Kat float in the air and then press the square button.

The farther you are from your target, the more powerful the kick becomes. While you will need to aim at your target when using the kick, you don't need to be too precise as long as it's within the center reticle and the surrounding gray circle around it. Kat will automatically home in on the target upon launch.

When she uses her gravity stasis field to pick up objects, she can fling them at a target with a press of the circle button. Some enemies can dodge out of the way of a gravity kick, so finding nearby objects as makeshift projectiles is key during combat scenarios.

The coups de grace of Kat's arsenal are her special attacks, which can be pulled off by pressing the triangle button while in zero gravity mode. So far, we've unlocked her amped-up auto-homing gravity drill attack and another move where she summons a cluster of gravity projectiles to rain down and hit fools within her radius.

Do keep in mind that she can't float forever because there's a gravity meter that gradually empties the longer she stays in zero gravity mode. Luckily, the meter refills pretty quickly and there is an abundant supply of gravity crystals littered in the city that replenishes the bar in a jiffy.

Simply put, it's really easy to get the hang of the controls. Combat so far is a blast, as there's so much space to navigate and position yourself for gravity kicks, as well as knowing where your enemies are coming from. While standing upside down on areas during quests may take some time getting used to, the game's camera has done a great job of not disorienting our heads too much.

We have to confess that at times, we spent too much time flying around and checking out the scenic route, as well as perfecting our score with the game's side missions. Yes, there are side missions you can partake in while traversing around Hekseville. Gamers will come across energy canisters that require a small number of power crystals; these not only brighten up the area and make it cheery, but they also unlock combat and navigation trials that can earn you more power crystals.

The former requires Kat to kill off a number of enemies for points, while the latter requires her to reach checkpoint after checkpoint using a specific gravity technique. Power crystals that are earned can be used to upgrade Kat's gravity abilities, whether it is to make her gravity kick more effective or make the handling of her gravity slide manageable.

After a tutorial that came in the form of an intense scene where Kat rescues a boy from a black hole in the sky, we tarried off into the old district of Hekseville to forward the story along. Players will get to explore Hekseville in open-ended fashion in locales like the old city district and the perpetually nighttime Rainbow Street area.

Along the way, Kat has to re-create and restructure lost parts of Hekseville, help find a missing student by searching for clues and exploring an academy, and even fight against another gravity-shifting nemesis called Raven. Without giving too much away, Gravity Rush will also bring gamers to otherworldly areas like a planar space filled with broken-down ruins, a void filled with ceiling inferno pits and pathways suspiciously arranged like a roller coaster, and even a barren wasteland filled with giant Nevis where Kat's gravity meter can't regenerate.

What also elevates this adventure game is the aesthetics. Toyama mentioned before that the game's art was based on the style of French comics. Upon our initial impressions, the game impresses with its bright palettes and environmental designs, particularly at the later areas we mentioned briefly. The narration itself is a mix of cutscenes and comic panels. Players can switch to the next page by swiping the screen and even move the accelerometer of the Vita to check out different angles of the panel.

One in eight girls in Hekseville will start glowing red and wreck the laws of physics upon reaching puberty.

It's pretty unique, we must say, and adds to the charm of its French aesthetic while getting the story's point across without the need for drawn-out machinima. The soundtrack by Kohei Tanaka, who is famous for composing music for anime like Gunbuster and Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, also accentuates everything coming together in one beautiful-looking title.

Fans may be disappointed that the director's latest game isn't anything like a survival horror title, but what we get instead is something potentially close to adventure-gaming greatness that couldn't be achieved on any other mobile device given its scope and presentation. With its unique sense of style and gravity-shifting gameplay already warming up to us, we do hope the later parts of the game live up to what we've experienced.

Gravity Rush will be out soon in North American and European territories, but gamers fluent in Japanese can check out the import version that is available now from their local parallel import stores.

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Discussion

69 comments
oneEnigma
oneEnigma

buying a vita on the 12th thanks to this game. Im going on Holiday the 15th for 5 weeks i hope this game and Rayman origins is enough. Might buy a 3rd game but im not really sure which it should be

gunshin82
gunshin82

I've got the chance to play the demo about a week and half ago in a store and it made me go overboard, Bought the Vita with Uncharted in anticipation for the release of this game! Man I can't wait for the 12th it'll be legendary! Good thing they're finally releasing the demo on PSN!

trollhunter2
trollhunter2

Have played the japanese demo such a beautiful game the controlls were really smooth and the artystyle is awesome

Coolyfett
Coolyfett

What score will Gamespot give this game???

chazy035
chazy035

It's piontless gamespot. you guys are going to give it a 7/10 any ways.

MangaMaster17
MangaMaster17

This looks superb. Probably will end up becoming a classic.

ohjtbehaaave
ohjtbehaaave

Original titles is what will make or break Vita. The same old ports to a handheld strategy has sailed a long time ago with other systems. Good exclusives will have the Vita in good shape.

Granpire
Granpire

This is what the Vita needs. A unique and innovative exclusive. The level of polish looks great also. Innovation plus polish usually equals superb gaming. This looks promising.

eliebaz
eliebaz

the game looks good, but in a market now dominated by smart phones people won't be as ready anymore to spend money on a new console when they have the next best things in their pockets all the time, i honestly believe handhelds are doomed. I personally will buy a PSvita and is very much a fan of handhelds and think it to be a great loss to the world of gamers that petty apps overtake such detailed games

scottahuch
scottahuch

@TwighlightBlade The term "killer app" has been used for games that sell lots of systems since the 90's. Long before Apple's App store.

DethAngel22
DethAngel22

So excited for this game :) This is #1 on my Vita wish list.

SDSkarface
SDSkarface

@Digital_DJ_00 no you dont know the difference or are too young maybe in your 20's and grew up in the age of Apple and app stores, but launch games for systems that are excellent have been called "killer app's" since the ps1 days. it has nothing to do with the other term "app" that mostly came into popularity from Apple's app store.

bronygamer
bronygamer

i cant wait to get my hands on this game i wish it was a launch title but oh well this is one of my must have games for the vita

sakuranoame
sakuranoame

I'm sorry, but I don't like the heading of this article: "...Killer App..."

mvirata
mvirata

I played the demo at gamestop the other day, it was pretty fun.

Digital_DJ_00
Digital_DJ_00

Killer app? .........It's a game though........ Do people not honestly know the difference anymore..?

Linaxel
Linaxel

Ha!! How is that smart phones and tablets. These are the kind of games that really show us that yes handhelds does have a chance, we need more of these. Just keep 'em coming!!!

Raeldor
Raeldor

I was talking to a Sony rep in Best Buy yesterday and he let me play this game. It was pretty cool, and the accelerometer was VERY responsive. He kept trying to tell me it was already out, but I told him I hadn't seen it anywhere. I guess when you work for Sony it's harder to tell when mere mortals like us can get OUR copy.

punu40
punu40

Its different, so thats good enough first impression for me. Kinda love the art style too. Looking forward for next information or demo ..

stick2zero
stick2zero

THis game doesn't interest me now... Maybe i need to play a demo first before purchased

musicaholicz
musicaholicz

Definitely getting this once it is out in the US

Iamtrent424
Iamtrent424

I will get my vita in may. So far this is the only game I really want for the vita

soulless4now
soulless4now

This game looks quite interesting since it's different from what we normally see.

idosofacility
idosofacility

U know that new TPS that is coming.. "Inversion".. well that is how that game should play.. but instead of really giving us real gravity control lik ethis game, that game is a faker!

Chickan_117
Chickan_117

@Unfallen_Satan - I hear you man! I was playing Xenoblade Chronicles last night and would prefer Japanese voices with English subtitles rather than the UK voiceovers :(

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

Why does the video on Page 1 show Chinese text in the game? Is this game multi-lingual? I have always wanted the original Japanese voice-overs or at least the text in Japanese games released in the US (imports are so expensive nowadays). I hope they keep the option for Japanese text during localization to US. It can't be that hard.

painpas
painpas

Wow! Finally Gamespot is gonna put this gem in the spot light. The Vita is awesome. Playing Tekken6, DarkStalkers Chronicles, Power Stone Collection, Capcom remix with SF2, Champion and Turbo on it. UMVC3... The system is the business. There is glare outdoors really bad. But once you see this screen for these great 2d fighters man we are in for a treat with this beast. The screen size now allows for the Normal or original screen settings to look amazing. Vita is AWESOME. Really impressed with this system. Gravity Rush is better than you think. Tons of video online that I am now going to stay away from. This is an open world game with MECHANICS to mess around with.

SicklySunStorm
SicklySunStorm

@Ovirew - Pushmo/Pullblox for 3DS is easily a killer app. One of the best games I've played in ages.

iplayah
iplayah

@Ovirew I never bought a console or handheld for one game, ever. That's just me I guess.

Loegi
Loegi

Had my eye on this. Too bad it isn't a launch title. Oh well, they probably couldn't finish it for launch. And it that case I prefer a finished product.

meconate
meconate

I played this on a Vita display; it was actually really fun.

febreez123
febreez123

Wow this game looks like a lot of fun actually

MrBlobz
MrBlobz

I played all the demo's at gamestop and this is definetly the best.

PeterDuck
PeterDuck

Did they HAVE to make this an anime-type game?

EPaul
EPaul

As i've said before this the Vita Killer App not Uncharted

Alphgroup
Alphgroup

if you can predict,tell me Gravity Daze score from Gamespot? i tell 9.5

Ovirew
Ovirew

Anyway, the main point I came here to make is, at least the Vita has a potential killer-app. The 3DS still doesn't. XD

Ovirew
Ovirew

@iplayah Think back to when you bought a new console last. Chances are, there was one game that stood out to you that really made you want to buy it. Sure, you eventually find other games you like, but the best killer apps are the diamonds in the rough that make the systems sell. Pokemon sold Gameboys. OOT and Goldeneye sold N64s. Halo sold XBOXs. FFX and GTA sold PS2s. I really don't think it's absurd to buy a game system mainly for one game, if the game really is good enough to provide endless hours of fun.

iplayah
iplayah

Saying you want a Vita just for this one games is an absurd statement. I don't believe it.

azurewiler
azurewiler

 @Coolyfett Knowing the casual gamers that makes the GS reviews, they will probably complain about the camera angles, the complicated controls, and the learning curve, wich are normal factors for every serious game, so they will probably give it a low score inteast of admit that they suck playing, just like they usually do.

trollhunter2
trollhunter2

 @azurewiler oh i see what

i remember the The legend of zelda skyward sword

review. I dont know but somehow gamespot wants to be

different than other review sites.

the 7.5/10 review was just wrong i agree on that

azurewiler
azurewiler

 @trollhunter2 yeh the preview, but later at the review something weird will happen, usually what I just mentioned... sorry,  but after a few years arround here my optimism  for a nice the review is almost lost.