It's Not Flying, It's Falling With Style
Who knew Woody was right all along? Gravity Rush doesn't need you to be Supergirl, it just needs you rethink what flying really is.
Published: May 25, 2012
Okay, so now I'm going to start gushing about that whole "atmosphere" bit. Since it's my job to explain and hopefully convince with words that my opinion is worth checking against your own, I'll do my best. Simply put, the sort of bucolic, vaguely European burg that makes up the floating islands of civilization in this world that surrounds a massive (and seemingly endless) tower is a sensory overload. It's not unusual to liberate a new area, start to explore it and become ceaselessly overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude.
Even the intro to the game where you're asked to tap an apple on a tree, only to watch it thunk to the ground, tumble downward over the lip of a ledge and then meander through the various streets and levels suggests a dizzying maze of layers just begging to be discovered. It's honestly a brilliant way to indicate that the idea of a flat world is instantly thrown out in favor of something intensely layered, and I honestly feel it's one of the most subtle indicators of what's to come I've seen in a game in a long time. It's just a credit roll, but in that short span, you get a sense of just how stacked this world all these people call home really is, and the kind of density the game is going to have.
Despite color-graded visual trappings that help you know where you are at a glance, the different parts of the city are just that: different. Intensely so; they're clearly defined as "entertainment" (read: red-light-friendly), "academic" (complete with school), "industrial" (yep, big ol' smokestacks) to complement the more "residential" parts of the starting area, and yet, they have completely complementary layouts. You'll see the common steeples and spires, the same claustrophobic alleyways, the same stairways that genuinely paint a picture of the verticality of the city's tower-striding design in ways that would be traversable by the normal people living in it.
Of course, you are not normal. You, as Kat, can literally change the direction of gravity, and you can do so to explore the actual underbelly of the various parts of the city to collect the game's upgrade currency: gems. Generally speaking, the bigger ones are worth more, and spending the time it takes to screw with Newton means you have money to pour into various abilities that can boost your falling speed, the impact of your kicks, the impact of your kicks when you're falling at enemies, the recovery speed of the gauge that lets you loose from normal up/down rules, the speed at which that gauge drains and plenty more -- including special attacks that can hurl objects, seek toward weak points on enemies in a Katpedo, and open a full-on vortex to suck enemies in.
Yeah, I just alluded to it: Kat isn't exactly alone in this old-timey world she just woke up in. She has to deal with some conflict (what superheroine doesn't?). Blobby-type enemies (dubbed Nevi) cropped up right around the type she did, and since they sort of terrorized the poor folks living in a world perched over a vortex that looks like pure evil (yet they take it all for granted; same as it ever was, apparently), the indigenous folk aren't super happy about a girl that can apparently fling them along for a ride with no consequence. They don't like her, but when bigger, and more nasty Nevi show up, they'll slowly learn she's far less of something to hate than the blobs actually attacking people.
When it's your time to attack, there are plenty of options. Initially, you'll just (quite literally) kick them to death. Kat is not without the ability to fight on the ground; swiping across the screen lets her dodge, but hammering the Square button is the key to really going nuts. As things progress, though, combat via terra firma (or, uh, terra relativa -- and yes, I know I'm poorly mixing Latin and Latin American, shaddap) is quickly made second to simply lifting into the air and barreling down to attack without physical counter-attacks.