Gravity Rush is a minor miracle by its very nature. An open world game with a novel movement mechanic and a relatively bullshit-free female lead that also happens to be put on a handheld? It’s got everything going against it, and yet Gravity Rush manages to be both charming and smart in its execution at nearly every turn.
Gravity Rush is the story of Kat, a girl who fell from the sky to a floating city besieged by strange storms that have broken the city apart and from which emerge strange creatures that threaten to destroy the populace. Kat has with her a strange black cat made of stars named Dusty, and the two of them have the power to change Kat’s gravity relative to the world. That means she can walk on walls or the ceiling as easily as the floor, but it also means that she can point in a direction and then turn gravity there, essentially flying through the air by constantly redirecting the vector of her falling.
Using that power, she becomes something of a local celebrity and fledgling super hero, helping the citizens and increasing her notoriety as she begins to find lost pieces of the city and restoring the world. In the meantime, she helps the police stop a master criminal, meets people who can create gateways to new universes, and starts a rivalry with another gravity-shifter with a more questionable agenda. It’s light hearted but not without consequence, and the whole thing is a breath of fresh air in a world where open world games means gritty crime drama in almost every instance.
The real star here though is the movement mechanics, which are frankly incredible. Kat has a real weight to her, and the out of control realities of not flying but changing your relative direction of fall. If you’re oriented right you’ll land on your feet, but more often as not Kat crashes to the ground taking out benches and lampposts with her, only to stop and leap off into the sky again. It’s dizzying, and take a lot to get used to, but then at some point you’ll find yourself standing on the overhang of a massive building looking at the people below you or buzzing past the side of the floating city with smoke stacks pointed down at the sky and realize that you aren’t confused at all, but as free in three dimensions (if not more) than you are in two.
Creating a solid, rewarding, complex traversal system is one of the hardest things to do in games, especially in big 3D worlds. It also happens to be one of my favorite things, to the point that I’ll excuse otherwise terrible games (wife-arm Bionic Commando, I’m looking at you) if the movement is interesting and rewarding. Thankfully, Gravity Rush doesn’t need those caveats. It is perhaps the most coherent, rewarding open world travel game since Spider-Man 2, and the game itself is much more fun and interesting to boot. I can’t imagine a higher recommendation than that.