This isn’t a review as I haven’t finished the game yet. But I’m working on that. Nor is it a proper article. I just wanted to brain dump a little bit about my experiences thus far.
The very first thing I had to do was disable the motion control aspect. The lightest bit of shake in your hands and the reticle for the gravity shift is moved. But this also slightly jostles the camera, which after my recent tinkering with VR headsets is all sorts of -NOPE-.
I get why the option was there, it’s a novel thing. But I don’t normally get motion sick (again, outside of VR) and this tiny movement definitely starts setting off similar symptoms. With this one complaint out of the way, I really do like the game a lot.
Gameplay is an odd mix of things that feel like they shouldn’t mesh, but do for the most part.
Traversal reminds me of Infamous with the city roaming and scaling buildings, although Kat is really just falling up them instead of Sparky Von-parkour (I think his real name was Cole?) scrambling up. But there is a real sense of height and distance in Gravity Rush, which was annoying in Infamous because you had to hoof it most of the time (Side Note: I really should go play Second Son at some point, maybe when I’m done with GR1 before moving on to GR2).
Puzzles and challenges are generally chase events, time limit events, or “find the path to X“, but even the path finding is generally guided or littered with gems/items. Early on, the biggest challenge was the controls and orienting yourself around them. I doubt the puzzles/challenges get harder on higher difficulties, but I am playing on Normal.
I have noticed that there is (at least up to Chapter 9) a clear divide between ‘exploration’ and ‘combat’ in the game. The games blob monster enemies (Nevi) don’t show up outside of the early missions in the city. It passingly reminds me of how the Hylian Fields felt in Ocarina of Time, that there should be more going on. Except time doesn’t pass in Auldnoir and Nevi don’t come out at night, etc. I, again, doubt that more monsters spawn in the town on higher difficulties, probably just in the combat encounters. The exploration is mostly to find more gems for upgrades and challenges to tackle.
More specifically in combat, it feels like lining up a shot and then smashing the foe with a gravity kick is the most effective way to handle things. Sometimes grabbing materials from the environment is helpful, like for smashing armored Nevi or knocking down flying Nevi, but for the most part I haven’t needed to use that tactic. I could just keep lining up shots or keep smashing the armor until it breaks. I wonder if later on the armor will be too hard, or otherwise not attackable directly (on fire, etc).
I spend next to no time on the ground in combat, partly thanks to spending lots of points on upgrades, and partly because the ground combat feels bland and weak. Kat can dodge roll and use a three kick combo while terrestrial. In the air though, it’s not really all that different, but it feels a lot more engaging/fun.
It’s a little weird to be learning about abilities that are available from the start as late as the 9th chapter (The Gravity Slide). I’d stumbled across it about 20 minutes before the game told me about it, but it had been in the abilities menu all along. Mind you, I’d spent most of my scavenged crystals on decreasing how much of the shift gauge is used, and increasing shift gauge recovery time (to which I think this trivialized a few of the ‘find the path to X’ puzzles, and probably made combat a little lengthier as I am likely not doing as much damage as the devs had intend me to).
Storyline-wise I suspect there will be some sort of twist later on, but isn’t there always? I will say though, I’m not a fan of how Kat runs away from Raven. I’m entirely positive (thanks to the promo material of GR2 and me not playing the game in a timely manner >_>) that Ravens hostility is a matter of misunderstanding. Hopefully this pays off in the storyline.
The style of the game though is really captivating to me. The lack of memory, the weird mish-mash floating city, and the strange flight powers really remind me of Dark City, but through a comic book filter. And this isn’t a bad thing, as I flipping love Dark City. The city design also reminds me a little of Studio Ghibli, particularly the weird air-cars that hover around the city. Also the music is this fun blend of orchestral themes and a bit of jazz to it. It really lends to the Ghibli vibe that I get.
I think the biggest thing is that even when I get frustrated with the game, like missing a time attack by a couple seconds, or losing the person I was chasing in a crowd, the gameplay at it’s core is still fun and unique.
That’s all for now. I’ll post a full review once I’ve completed the game.