Gravity Daze - Import Review
The game follows the story of a young amnesiac named Kat, who awakens in a world known as Auldnoir. She is accompanied by a cat named Dusty, the source of her gravity powers. While the first few hours have Kat aiding citizens in menial tasks such as collecting balloons a child accidentally let go of, the story eventually develops into something much bigger. Even without understanding the dialogue, I often found myself wanting to know what happens next to the characters you encounter in the game. Without giving away too much, the story kept itself fresh throughout and I look forward to its localization in English.
Presentation-wise, the game has a great look thanks to its art style and graphics, which look much better right on the Vita than through captures. Kat's animations as she falls, flies, or floats in the sky look as natural as you would expect of people who can control gravity. Explosions and the dust kicked up as Kat hits the ground are stylish and adds a nice effect to her actions. The story takes Kat through several areas and each is a delight to explore. Each area comes with its own distinct look and is accompanied by a great soundtrack; the second area depicts the nightlife in Auldnoir, and both the jazzy BGM and appearance of the city helped emphasize this. The UI is also fantastic to use and easy to navigate. Icons close together can be tapped on to zoom in on them. Tracking a location on the map automatically closes the map afterwards, saving you one extra screen tap before getting back into the game.
The main attraction of the game is Kat's gravity powers. You can alternate between gravity and normal mode through the R and L shoulder buttons, respectively. While in gravity mode, Kat gains access to all of her gravity abilities including her gravity kick, slide, and flight. In addition, landing on any surface while in gravity mode changes the direction of gravity to become relative to Kat, that is falling down often becomes falling up while in gravity mode. Flying feels great and I very rarely found myself walking through cities. Kat is able to lift up objects or NPCs with the O button, and is able to use the former as projectiles against enemies. Touching the screen with two fingers activates her gravity slide, which attaches Kat to a surface and slides with great speed. Kat also gains a few more combat abilities as the story progresses, and each feels like they have their own purpose in combat. All of her gravity powers are governed by an energy meter that steadily decreases as she remains in gravity mode.
The combat in the game is fun, but I felt it to be second to the exploration. In normal mode, Kat's kicks and punches are delivered through the Square button. By flicking the screen, Kat can dodge in the direction of the flick. She can then follow up her dodge with a powerful kick and another series of kicks and punches. This is about the extent of any semblance of a combo system. Of course, her gravity powers can also be used in combat; her gravity kick can often shatter enemies in a single hit, and sliding into enemies causes Kat to deliver a powerful kick. The enemy you fight in the game, the Nevi, are mutated creatures whose weak spots are a large orange orb. As the game progresses, the Nevi come equipped with shells you must break first before exposing this weak spot. Unfortunately, the combat never becomes too challenging beyond this, save for a handful of fights towards the end of the game. Regardless, the combat is fine and does not detract from the game too much.
Character progression is mainly through the collection of gems scattered throughout areas. Kat has a handful of attributes, such as her health and how slowly gravity mode decreases her energy, that can be leveled up by spending gems. Progression in the story opens up additional levels of her abilities to reach. In addition to the gems you encounter going through the story mode, gems are littered throughout both the surface and underside of cities, and makes exploring each area rewarding and fun. Provided you are not actively trying to avoid the gems the game throws at you, it is not too difficult to level up all of Kat's abilities to their max level by or close to the end of the game.
The bulk of the game is composed of a series of story quests, but challenge missions are also strewn about the city for you to complete. The story takes about 10 hours to complete, and faster if you avoid area exploration and challenges.These challenges are not needed to move the story along, but do provide you with an additional source of gems. The majority of challenges are either combat focused, tasking you with accumulating a number of points by defeating monsters within the time limit, or running through checkpoint races as fast as possible. There are a few unique challenges beyond racing and combat, such as picking up NPCs and delivering them to a safe zone. Performance is rewarded based on a bronze, silver, or gold medal. An online leaderboard rank provides a competitive nature to the challenges. The majority of challenges are 1-5 minutes in length, so they are great for picking up and playing whenever.
Unfortunately, a few technical flaws were evident. For one, gyro aiming Kat while in gravity mode, and gyro controlling her gravity slide never felt great. While the former is entirely optional as you can aim with the sticks, there is no alternate mode of control for gravity sliding. Texture pop-in and frame rate drops also occur when there are tons of explosions and effects going on at the same time. The game also seems to have a problem leading areas if you travel too quickly; the game pauses for a few seconds and ruins the sense of speed. Challenges also do not have a retry option, so if you mess up at the beginning of one, you must complete it in order to get the option to retry at the results screen. For the most part, the camera did a fine job but it does struggle to keep up in tight spaces. Finally, the loading times were quite long and this problem is emphasized by how many loading screens there are. This is especially evident when retrying challenges, as a loading screen occurs between attempts.
By the end of the game, I found myself wanting more. Unfortunately, after getting the platinum trophy in the game, there is not much post-game content to do beyond striving for better ranks in challenges or just flying around the city. Regardless, Kat's gravity abilities are well worth the entry fee, and the 10-12 hour story provides gamers with quite a lot of time to make use of those unique abilities. This is one game every Vita owner needs to experience, and I look forward to playing through the game again when its localization is released in June.
If you are thinking about importing the game, know that it is very import friendly. After a few minutes, it becomes apparent what each symbol on the map means, and what controls each ability is tied to. Mission objectives are also easy to understand, and a generous checkpoint system makes trial-and-error tactics usable. There did not seem to be any branching story paths, so you don't have to worry about being locked out of content just because you did not understand something. A few caveats exist though. Trophies are registered as Gravity Rush if you have US PSN account, so if you wanted the enjoyment of seeing trophies pop up during your playthrough in English, I would hold off on importing. Another caveat is that any future DLC will be region locked.