Designed specifically for the PlayStation Vita, Gravity Rush fits into the single player action-adventure category with some Role Playing and Platforming elements thrown in. I suppose the idea was to show off exactly what the PS Vita is capable of, a tactic which could easily have backfired because it could just as well have shown what the PS Vita was not very good at. The Vita specific functionality is the gyro motion sensor and touch control screen and the greatly enhanced graphics capabilities. On the whole it seems to have achieved some degree of success on the technical side.
Set in a world far in the future where unexplained powerful gravitational disturbances herald the appearance of alien creatures, the Nevi, who proceed to kill and destroy all who stand in their way. But cometh the hour cometh the man, or in this case, young girl, Kat, who has somehow been given the superhuman power of controlling gravity. She does not know how this power came about as she has lost all memory of the her past. Her mission is to save Hekesville a floating city and in her this mission she is aided and guided by a mysterious being whose manifestation, or familiar, is would you believe, a black cat which goes by the name of Dusty. Dusty helps her develop and refine her newly acquired gravity altering abilities. Kat, being the main character is the part you play.
Other characters who play more than a small part in the game are the goodies, Raven, Syd, Gade, Cyanea and the baddies, Yunica, the Nevi, Nushi and Alias.
Starting with the goodies, Raven, a woman, fancifully attired, plays a confusing role at first appearing to be against the hero Kat and later revealing herself as an ally. Syd, the first person Kat meets when she first awakes memory-less in Hekesville, is a law officer who vicariously gets many promotions in rank on the back of actions taken by Kat. It is hard to decide if his uniform is meant to be futuristic as in some ways its looks a little old fashioned. Gade is a bearded, oldish man, dressed in a rather nondescript manner, a man of mystery, who is introduced to Kat by a fortune teller. He also has a somewhat confusing role and seems to be some sort of spiritual guide and explains to Kat where parts of her world, which have disappeared, are to be found. On opening his coat, instead of being a bit of a flasher. he reveals a portal into this missing world. Cyanea has an important role in the story as the city of Hekesville, and everything else in the game, resides in her imagination or dreams, and so she is the sort of creator of the world inhabited by the other characters. While she sleeps and dreams she is watched over by another entity inside her, the Guardian of Dreams.
As for the baddies, Yunica, a female member of the Special Defense Force, is bizarrely dressed in some sort of articulated high heeled thigh length boots, and is equally bizarrely armed, her right hand and arm taking the form of a lance. Her preferred mode of transport is a jet pack. She crops up at intervals during the game. The Nevi are peculiar, dangerous, although in appearance laughable rather than menacing, black and red one large eyed creatures who appear out of the gravity storms. They come in various forms, some easier to destroy than others and some require the ultimate Gravity Boot. Nushi is a giant Nevi in fish form which spends a lot of its time in the air firing Gravity Balls which you need to dodge. It has a nasty habit of attacking children. When not flying but resting it it becomes vulnerable exposing a weak spot at the back of its head. Alias is a male dressed in a pin striped suit and a non matching helmet, a bit of a fashion disaster, who goes around collecting sacred gems to put to some evil use.
The game gets off to a slow start and begins with Kat waking from sleep not knowing who she is or where she is, leaving plenty of scope for the story to develop and unfold. Although there is not a great deal to the story, the actual lore and interaction between characters is more complicated, and there are many side missions and contests.
The main mechanics of the controls is handling gravity, which you need to do to get where you want to go. This takes a little getting used to. Getting to where you want to be can be done by pointing the camera or double tapping the screen and as with other handheld devices twisting the device itself is a method of steering. It all seems to work pretty well once you get used to it, but the faster moving episodes of the game are a little difficult even with practice. Under some conditions there may be some lag and some load times are a little too long.
The graphics, as promised by the Vita, are sharp and more than adequate to the task of rendering the characters and scenery, which themselves are pretty undemanding technically. The overall presentation of the characters is flat and comic like, and while to some degree imaginative are rather childlike and even the bad guys are amusing rather than threatening, but it seems fit for purpose. Although a lot of the action takes place in Hekesville, other towns and locations are featured, and worth special mention are the Rift Planes which contain the pieces of the partially destroyed Hekesville. The city itself is massive and there is a lot to explore, enjoy or destroy.
Gravity Rush is very good when judged by the standards of handheld devices and is surprisingly rich in characters and locations. While not being the greatest game in the world it is probably the best yet on the PlayStation Vita and I would expect to see a sequel some time in the future as there are many possibilities of character and plot extension. There is already some DLC available offering new missions, trophies, costumes etc. at a low cost.