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Gravity Rush Remastered Review: Falling Skyward

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The original Gravity Rush came out in an interesting time, releasing on the PS Vita very early on in its still ongoing lifespan. Due to its early release on the handheld, it was one of the few titles to take advantage of the Vita’s gyroscope controls, making it stand out from the other titles at the time. Back that up with an interesting premise, striking visuals, and a likable cast and you have yourself a cult favourite amongst the very loyal fan base for the Sony handheld.

The game kicks off with our protagonist, who is later given the name Kat, waking up in a small park with no memory of her past. She is greeted by an otherworldly looking cat, which she names Dusty, and decides to follow it. She is then thrust into saving a man’s son when she figures out she’s a Shifter, an individual who has the power to shift gravity.

With this new power, she decides that it should be used to help the citizens of Hekseville , whether it’s with mundane tasks or to fend off the alien like Nevi. Throw in another shifter named Raven, interdimensional travel and frequent costume changes and you pretty much have everything you need for an enjoyable story.

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The amnesiac story line is one that is done to death, and one that is normally not very interesting. In my experience, the best amnesiac stories are the ones where they don’t focus on the amnesia. Luckily, Gravity Rush Remastered is that kind of story.

Kat’s interest in her lost memory is relatively short lived, as she becomes more invested in helping the people of Hekseville. Couple that with her cheery and optimistic personality and you have a very likable protagonist. The rest of the side characters are also very enjoyable as they make for great personalities for Kat to bounce off of.

The plot’s biggest failing is it’s ending, where it abruptly stops, with many threads still left unfinished or unexplained. Luckily Gravity Rush 2 is in the works, but it still doesn’t excuse the abrupt nature of the games ending.

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One of the key aspects that make Gravity Rush Remastered stand out from the rest of the competition is its presentation. I’ve always been a person to prioritize visual aesthetic over visual fidelity. A game can have the highest quality textures and hyper realistic shading, but if it doesn’t strike out aesthetically then it ultimately just becomes a beautiful bore to look at.

The cel-shaded style the game takes definetly makes it stand out, even more so now with improved texture and geometry as well as consistent frame rate of 60 fps. The city of Heksvile looks better than ever on the PS4, with each part of the city distinct enough to feel like a whole new place, but still remain consistent to the steampunk-ish tone the setting evokes.

The enemies and Rifts are also very well designed, evoking an otherworldly and foreign look to juxtapose the more industrial Hekseville.
A minor nitpick I have with the presentation is that the game has its own made up language that it very rarely utilizes, since most of the story is told through comic book panels and text bubbles with no voice acting to accompany them.

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Even when there is voice acting in the made up language, it isn’t particularly effective and will sometimes draw you out of the story. I can recall one instance in which it was used effectively, but talking about it would be going into spoiler territory.

Gravity Rush Remastered’s gameplay is the other aspect that makes it stick out from other action/adventure titles. The game’s core gameplay is revolved around shifting gravity in any direction. You have the ability to lunge yourself in any direction as if you were falling, as well as walk on virtually any surface in any angle.

The gravity shifting mechanics are incredibly satisfying to use, due mostly to the fact that you can feel Kat’s weight as you fly all over the place. Early on you barely have control of your powers, as you constantly fling yourself with poor accuracy while trying to manage your energy gauge. As you progress through the game and you upgrade your abilities, it’ll eventually become second nature and what you initially had trouble controlling will be mastered by the end of the game.

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Gravity shifting is hands down the highlight of the game, as you’ll simply have fun zooming by the various landscapes. Gravity Rush Remastered also sports various challenges that you can do, ranging from time attacks to races against the clock. The best ones are the races since they take full advantage of your various gravity shifting powers, as you’ll want to use your full arsenal to get the best time you can manage.

The combat is comprised of almost exclusively kicks, with regular kicks, dive kicks and slide kicks available in the player’s arsenal. The player can also grab objects into their gravitational field and hurl them at various enemies.

The last things in your arsenal are special attacks that can be unlocked throughout the course of the game. These attacks are incredibly powerful and can easily be used to level out the playing field, at the cost of having a very long cool down after their use as to not imbalance the game.

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With all the options the game gives you to combat enemies, it sadly falls by the wayside as it suffers from having a dominant strategy. Dive kicks in the game are by far the best way to dispatch enemies, regardless of the enemy type. The game does throw many different enemy variants in your face in the hopes of adding combat diversity, but all you’ll ever need to do (and frankly what you’ll want to do seeing as ground combat is very limiting) is to perform dive kick after dive kick. Not to say that it still isn’t fun, but if the game were any longer it would start to drag.

A big part of why dive kicks are the most effective way to dispatch foes lies within another problem, its difficulty curve. Gravity Rush Remastered starts off challenging enough, but after a certain point Kat becomes so powerful that you’ll very rarely run into a dilemma where you’ll need to manage your energy gauge.

Challenges suffer from the same thing, as eventually you’ll be able to Gold medal most of them on your very first try. The only time I had trouble in the game was during the optional hunting side mission, where in the player can return to the Rift’s and fight a stronger version of a common enemy type. Even then, the dominant strategy prevailed.

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Gravity Rush Remastered, and by extension the original PS Vita version, is a game that can be best described as an innovative and fun title that needs more refining. It starts off strong but eventually gets quite easy towards the end and by the time you reach that point, you’ll be shocked that it ended there.

It’s still very much worth the price admission, and if you decide to pick it up on the PS4, you’ll be in for a refreshing treat amongst the landscape of AAA titles. With Gravity Rush 2 on the horizon, it’ll be great to see how series evolves from this and turns into something even more memorable.

With improved visuals, smoother performance, and all the previous DLC bundled in; it’s safe to say that Gravity Rush Remastered is the definitive version to play for anyone who has yet to try it out.

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Gravity Rush Remastered was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a retail copy purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.

The Verdict: 8

The Good:

  • Gravity shifting is incredibly fun
  • Visuals are absolutely gorgeous
  • Challenges are actually quite enjoyable
  • Kat is best girl

The Bad:

  • The difficulty takes a nose dive towards the end
  • Combat suffers from “dominant strategy” syndrome
  • Ending is abrupt and somewhat unsatisfying
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Alexis Nascimento-Lajoie

About

Writer at Niche Gamer. Passionate for video game journalism, and more than glad to be a part of it. I also write DOTA 2 stuff.