The last time I played Gravity Rush was a little over three years ago. It was the first Vita game I ever played, and it has actually remained my favorite to this day. There was a lot that pulled me in into the game, but one thing I came away with more than anything is that Gravity Rush felt like a game that was perfectly suited for its hardware. The touchscreen, the motion sensor, and the graphical powers of the Vita helped the game feel engaging in a way I hadn’t experienced before. So when it was announced there was going to be a remaster of Gravity Rush (along with a full-fledged sequel) coming exclusively to PS4, I was a little skeptical of the game being as good on a regular controller. After spending some time with the new version of the game, however, I came away pretty impressed.
My fondest memory of playing the original version of the game came right at the beginning, right when you’ve completed the introductory story missions and are finally allowed to free-roam around the city. It’s a lot like one of those super hero origin stories where you’ve just received some amazing powers, and now you’re trying to figure out everything you can do with them. Just figuring out the controls was an enjoyable experience, and it was when I had managed to collect all of the upgrade crystals in the starting area (as far as I could see) with my newfound gravity powers that I had fallen in love with the game.
I never expected to get that same feeling again, but right when I reached that same spot in the remaster I found myself getting enamored all over again. Surprisingly, the main mechanics transfer over to the Dualshock 4 controller well. Your main means of transportation in the game comes from manipulating gravity to fly across the town. Just like the Vita version, you can accomplish this either by moving around with your control stick or by using the motion sensor built into the controller. Either way works great. In fact, things might be better than ever thanks to the larger screen in the remaster. Things were more condensed on the Vita, with a lot less open space to work with, which could make your constantly shifting perspective difficult to keep track of. With more space to work with, it was a lot easier to glide around without losing track of where I am.
But flying around is just the beginner stuff. I always felt that out all of the maneuvers you could do in Gravity Rush, sliding had by far the highest learning curve. In the Vita version, you needed to put both your thumbs on the touch screen and then make your turns by physically moving your Vita around, utilizing the motion sensor. While it felt unique and could be mastered after quite a bit of practice, it also was unwieldy and could get disorienting. In the remaster, things are a little more traditional. Now you just need to hold down the L2 and R2 buttons and use the control stick to make your turns, and it makes a world of difference. I have memories of constantly restarting sliding races in the original, but with the remastered controls I managed to beat almost every challenge on my first try.
One improvement to the game I wasn’t even thinking about when I first booted up the remaster is the addition of all the DLC integrated directly into the game as “Side Missions.” The DLC missions are notable not just because they add extra levels to complete, but because they also expand on some of the side plots and characters that appear in the main story. I played all of the DLC in the original version, but I didn’t purchase any of it until I had completed almost everything the base game had to offer. Due to that, this was the first time that I got to play all of the DLC in its intended place in the timeline. Gravity Rush’s story always felt a little skimpy, but getting to play the DLC missions in tandem with their proper location in the plot fleshes things out quite nicely.
It’s a strange feeling to have nostalgia for a game I played only a few years ago, but Gravity Rush Remastered offered a very nice twist on a game I enjoyed a lot to begin with. Playing the game back on the Vita I couldn’t have imagined it being on anything else, but the experience has carried over to the PS4 extremely well. It was a joy to get to revisit Gravity Rush, and while I was initially worried about the series transitioning to consoles, now I’m excited to (eventually) get my hands on Gravity Rush 2.
Food for Thought:
1. The menus have been completely redone and are a lot more organized-looking. The original version’s menus were controlled completely by the touch-screen, but their redesign for the controller seems much more intuitive. There’s even a few nice touches like an illustration of Kat waving to some of the side characters that you meet in a certain story mission.
2. The new Gallery Mode adds a completely ridiculous amount of illustrations from the game’s development. It’s especially fun to see all of the various design concepts they had for Kat and Alias, who evolved pretty dramatically.
3. Combat controls remain mostly the same, except you can choose to use the DualShock 4’s touch screen to emulate the Vita’s touch screen-controlled dodge or simply press R2 like many modern action games. Out of all of Gravity Rush’s hardware gimmicks, the only one I never really liked was having to swipe the touch screen to dodge, so I enjoyed the option of using a shoulder button instead.