Geek Revolt

Afterthoughts: Gravity Daze “A Mandatory Purchase”

I reviewed Gravity Daze last month and awarded it a perfect score. It’s the PS Vita’s killer app; it single-handedly justifies the system’s asking price. And after spending more than 40 hours with it (multiple playthroughs), I can honestly say this–it’s one of the best games I’ve ever played. Now, I don’t throw that phrase around liberally, but it perfectly describes how I feel about Gravity Daze.

It’s easy to label a game a “masterpiece” in the heat of the moment (we’ve all been drunk on hype), but the true test comes once you put down the controller (or PS Vita) and the hype subsides. I believe this is when a true evaluation occurs. Faux-masterpieces are quickly forgotten once the honeymoon phase ends–while the real ones linger in your thoughts long after the credits roll.

Most open world games are about power or transitioning from rags to riches, but Gravity Daze is about self-discovery. Kat never works her way up to a sprawling mansion in the best part of town, and while she can collect enough precious gems to become godlike—she’s far from power-hungry. Leveling up her abilities felt natural, it was less about the power and more about highlighting her blossoming confidence as a superhero. Once you’ve completed the game your first thought isn’t “Wow, Kat is a real badass.” It’s “Wow, Kat has really found her place in this world.”

I don’t want to sound cheesy, all of this makes you feel like maybe you can find your place in this world. Kat has some self-doubt, and by the end of her journey she doesn’t have all the answers. But she finds her purpose in life, and there’s something remarkably human about that. She isn’t a tough guy with a chip on his shoulder, she only wants to unravel the mystery of her past, and to help the people of Hekseville.

By now I’m sure all of you know that this was originally planned for the PS3, and it was somewhat inspired by the Xbox 360 exclusive Crackdown. This inspiration didn’t surprise me, back on February 25th before the news came out I said:

What would an open world game be without collectables? When Crackdown came out, I’d spend hours jumping around the city, in search of orbs. There’s something additive about hunting for objects on rooftops. Gravity Daze has purple gems instead of orbs, and once you collect enough you can level up Kat’s abilities.

Now I loved Crackdown, to this day it’s one of my favorite Xbox 360 games, but it fell into a trap that most open world action games fall into. It was all about the action, the story was generic and almost nonexistent, the character you controlled was a tool (literally), and the game’s world lacked that special something. Still, the action was so over the top and enjoyable gamers easily forgave these shortcomings.

I bring all of this up because Gravity Daze’s gameplay is good enough to stand on its own (it’s intense, varied, and perfect for quick pick up and play sessions). Even if Kat were a nameless mercenary in a generic city and all the wonderful character interactions were removed the game would remain fun. But it wouldn’t be an instant classic, just a great game. Hekseville’s unique design, Kat’s personality, the wonderful cast, and a truly intriguing story pushes this game to the next level.

QUICK THOUGHTS:

  • A Dense World – The game world is dense—each section of the city is brilliantly layered. None of the areas are flat; all of them contain different levels. The best thing I can compare it to is a mansion with 4-5 floors. Add the ability to walk on walls and under buildings and you have a world that’s bigger than it originally appears.
  • Belongs on The PS Vita - As stated above, this was originally destined for the PS3, but Japan Studio thought the PS Vita was a better fit. That was a good call on their part–the tilt controls, and more importantly the comic book presentation wouldn’t work well on the PS3. Gravity Daze feels like a living comic, and comics are portable. Plus if it came to the PS3 gamers would probably demand voice acting, and in my opinion this would ruin the overall experience. Oh, and the gameplay is perfect for quick pick up and play sessions.
  • Post GameGravity Daze has a post game; once you finish the last episode you’re free to explore the world. This is perfect for trophy addicts; you can collect precious gems, find manholes, search for a mysterious couple, get gold medals in every challenge, and defeat rare Nevi.
  • DLC – I was satisfied with the game’s playtime so I don’t mind paying a little extra (400 yen) for a new costume and 4 missions (2 side quests, and 2 challenges). Although, I’m unsure if I’ll buy all three DLC packs. I’m downloading the Spy Volume, but I’m thinking about holding off on the others in hopes that they’ll appear in the English version (or as pre-order bonuses).
  • Sequel Wish List - After playing through the game a few times I started to notice that there are areas that are completely unused. If a sequel is ever made hopefully Japan Studio makes better use of the world they created. Give Kat a reason to walk around instead of flying everywhere.
  • A Tinge of Regret - I’ll repeat what I said in my review–you shouldn’t import Gravity Daze. As much as I love the game I’d be lying if I didn’t say deep down I regret importing it. There’s a ton of text, and even, though, I can figure out what’s going on, I feel like… I’m missing something.

Gravity Daze is evocative, beautiful, charming, and a lot of fun to play. And in a strange twist, the English version remains one of my most anticipated games of 2012. Yes, even after beating the Japanese version a few times I’m still excited for the June 12th U.S. release date, and you should be too. As far as I’m concerned this is a mandatory purchase for every PS Vita owner.

I'm DeShaun Zollicoffer, and I approve this message/bio. "26-years-old, Proud Northeast Ohioan, a Gamer Without Loyalties, an Equal Opportunity Offender, Apple Evangelist, Apple Hater, Music Lover, Anime Junkie, Little Monster, Frequent Flyer, Dexter Fanatic, Title Case Addict, and Geek Revolt's Founder and Editorial Director."
  • Axe99

    Thanks for the further info, sounds like Gravity Daze is really something special :).

    • http://www.geekrevolt.com/ DeShaun Zollicoffer

      No problem, I can’t wait until more people get their hands on it :)

  • SanjayMB

    Persona 4: the Golden will be my Vita system seller. This will no doubt be my second purchase. I’ve seen quite a few gameplay video’s and still they amaze me. The game just oozes style and it looks stellar. Can’t wait!