What a (Gravity) Rush

I managed to complete two games just recently, both for PS4: Final Fantasy XV, and Gravity Rush Remastered.

There is a hell of a lot I could say about Final Fantasy XV… and unlike the vocal majority of the Internet, almost none of it is positive. Quite frankly, I hated the game. I think it was garbage. It’s really frustrating, because I started out enjoying myself immensely and seeing a lot of potential for it. In the end, however, that potential is completely squandered and every positive feature of the game was stripped away and discarded in the final chunk of it, leaving me just eager to get the damn thing over with.

Maybe there’s some decent fun to be had in FFXV, but it’s held back and quickly kicked into submission by the utterly atrocious narrative. The story is… well, bad. Nothing else to be said about it. I kept waiting for it to give context, and it never happened. Kept waiting for reasons to care about what was going on, and it never provided. The only positive thing was the banter and relationship of the lead characters, but even that felt ridiculously forced, repetitive, and completely underwhelming after just coming off Trails of Cold Steel 2.

Urgh. I’m angry again just talking about it. There’s a lot more I could say, but that’s probably best saved for official articles, so let’s talk positives: Gravity Rush.

Now this is a game I have few bad things to say about. I really enjoyed my time with this game. It’s not an overly long experience but it doesn’t feel too short, nor does it overstay its welcome. After hearing such positive things all the way back from when it released on the Vita, yet never owning one or having a PS4 until recently to play it, I’m glad it managed to live up to all expectations.

I think the best way to describe it is an alternative entry in the original open world superhero games that sprang up a few years ago, namely Infamous and Prototype. Whereas those games are fairly dark and take themselves seriously, however, Gravity Rush isn’t afraid to approach things in a much lighter fashion, even if the plot is still relatively serious. It was actually quite refreshing to see, in a way.

The biggest thing I took away from Gravity Rush is the ease of movement. I fully expected to lose my footing and have my sense of direction completely obfuscated, but somehow that never happened. No matter which way I was orienting myself and no matter how quickly I shifted gravity, the game handled simply, naturally, and didn’t 0verwhelm me with vertigo. I always had a rough idea of where I was, and the ability to simply fly around the city of Hekseville was quite a treat.

I think the design of the city was hampered somewhat by the technical limitations of the Vita, however, because the major thing telling each of the four city sections apart is the music (which is awesome, by the way – a great soundtrack is present). Visually, they kinda blended together and could get kinda same-y, making it hard to tell one apart by graphical cues alone, and the colours felt a touch muted and dull too. Nonetheless, the fact that it has to be fully realised and detailed both above and below the sections that people would usually see was a nice departure from games that are largely, well, vertical.

The narrative of Gravity Rush is fairly light, with plenty of big plot points that aren’t fully explored or delved into – partly so that it can be explored in sequels, sure, which I’ve already purchased and will tackle soon.

It also relies a bit on a writing technique that I absolutely hate: that being that one of the primary conflicts is only there because the characters refuse to sit down for two minutes and talk to each other to realise that they’re getting everything (and each other) all wrong. This basically sums up the early issues with Kat and her rival Raven – all Raven had to do was shut up for 30 seconds, listen to Kat, and work things out simply. Instead, it takes multiple run ins where other characters are telling Raven to stop being so hasty and Kat keeps insisting that doesn’t have to be a bitch, but Raven chooses not to listen until towards the end of the game. It’s irksome, but that’s the biggest negative I have to offer.

Overall, the plot is fine – it’s light, it’s simple, and it takes time to have fun with the characters to get you invested in them and their plight. The presentation of comic book art panels for most of the major exposition cutscenes is a well executed stylistic choice, and goes well with the general “superhero” theme that both the gameplay and story seems to end up with. Again, just like Infamous and Prototype, Gravity Rush is a superhero story and totally unabashed about it.

Between the handful of optional side missions and the variety of skill challenges on offer, as well as a huge array of gems scattered around the city to discover and use as power-up currency, there’s enough to break up the main missions and keep you from getting burnt out. The missions themselves generally have enough variety and make you utilise your gravity shifting powers in interesting ways.

One last point I’ll touch on is the interesting use of gravity related science in the story – namely, the compression of time and relativity due to gravity. It was subtly touched on and not fully explained, but it’s there, and if I was any stupider I probably would have missed that detail. Since I picked up on it, however, it made me smile to note. Just a small thing I wanted to mention.

So yes, I greatly enjoyed Gravity Rush Remastered and definitely recommend picking it up and giving it a whirl. It’s a fun romp and has original enough mechanics and presentation to make it quite worth your time. And just in time for Gravity Rush 2, which is getting excellent feedback and reviews. I look forward to tackling that.

Sadly, I cannot say the same for FFXV. Avoid that and go play Trails of Cold Steel instead, I insist. No doubt I will write a full article on it before long.



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