If you'd asked me back in 2012 to name a single Vita game that deserved a PS4 version, I would have said "Gravity Rush" with zero hesitation. Good news for me, then! Sony may have all but given up on their Vita handheld, but someone over there appears to have realised they have a handful of really good Vita exclusives that could probably do well on PS4. That gave us last year's terrific Tearaway Unfolded, and also brings us Gravity Rush Remastered, which comes out next week on February 3. I've played six hours of the PS4 version, and it's great.
Originally released on Vita in 2012, Gravity Rush is a superhero game about falling. It's an open-world Crackdown kinda deal where you play an amnesiac young lady named Kat. Kat owns a magical cat, which gives her the ability to manipulate gravity and fly her way around a small but dense floating city by changing which direction is "her" down, and therefore which way she'll fall through the sky. It's a smart idea, and winds up being a joyous way to tumble and dive through the game-world.
Kat spends the game going on quests, seeking the truth about her identity and collecting gems. Mostly collecting gems.
Gravity Rush is a terrifically enjoyable game with a mind-tilting central mechanic, and it's made the jump to PS4 more than intact. Unsurprisingly to those who played it on Vita, Gravity Rush actually works significantly better on the big screen and with a complete controller. It runs at a smoother 60-ish frames per second, and the big screen makes it much easier to orient yourself during chaotic aerial battles.
I cut together some gameplay from the opening chapter of the PS4 version, if you'd like to see how it plays. I captured at 30fps, though the game runs at a higher frame-rate than that; sorry I wasn't able to use my 60fps capture box for this one.
If you'd like to read a review of the original Vita game, check out Evan Narcisse's 2012 review. An excerpt:
I remain smitten by Gravity Rush just because it's so damn beautiful to look at and fun to play. It'd be great as a full-blown PS3 game. Lucky for the Vita, then, that it gets to strut its stuff on the new handheld. It's not structured for bite-size sessions like so many iPhone or Android games. This airy, whimsical experience also manages to be a pretty substantial bite of a sharply realised gameplay, too. Gravity Rush joins an elite list of games that have imprinted themselves onto the backs of my eyelids.
When I close my eyes, I can see Kat streaking through the air aiming a Gravity Kick at a Nevi from 100m away. That sensation provides a great escape from the bounds of more mundane experiences and hopefully points the way towards other robust handheld experiences waiting to show up on Sony's handheld.
Even then, Evan was talking about Gravity Rush's console-readiness. Clearly someone at Sony had the same thought, tasking the folks at Bluepoint Games with making a higher-res, more responsive PS4 version. I'm not here to re-review the game; it's one of my favourites on Vita or anywhere else, and it's just as good as I remember it. I am happy to recommend the PS4 version, which, interestingly enough, Evan was kinda already doing in his Vita review.
In places, it's apparent that the PS4 version is a port of a portable game. In most respects it stands as a fully-fledged current-gen game. The brightly lit, illustrated art style looks splendid in 1080p, and the comic-book cutscenes work just as well on a big-screen as they did on the Vita. The motion controls are as extraneous as they were on Vita, and the Dualshock 4 proves a superior option for manual control of Kat's abilities.
I'm getting up to some of the more challenging combat encounters in the game, and the larger screen and tighter controls on the console version make those fights much more manageable. It helps that I played a lot of the game on Vita, as well -- the central gravity-shifting mechanic is novel enough that it actually requires an hour or two to fully get your head around, so I started with an advantage. I'm also finding that I'm using some abilities that I completely ignored on Vita. In particular, Kat's power-slide is much easier to pull off and has proven unexpectedly cool to use.
The remastered edition also includes the various DLC missions that were released for the Vita version. One has Kat take a job as a maid, another as a spy, and a third as a soldier. I've only played through the first of the maid missions, and based on that, I guess that each mission pack is mostly just an excuse to have Kat fall-fly her way around the city while wearing a cute new outfit. Fine by me.
Ports like this one are always easiest to recommend on a case-by-case basis.
If you've never played Gravity Rush, yes, absolutely, play this game. It's wonderful.
If you played the game on Vita and thought it was ok but didn't love it, you can probably skip this; it's still the same game.
If you played the game and love it to death, yes, play it again. The PS4 version is enough of an upgrade that I'm almost certainly going to play it all the way through.
I'm assuming that the final chapters are still a letdown and that the story still ends on a weird half-resolution, a complaint that Evan noted in his review. At least we now know that an all-new Gravity Rush 2 is coming soon to PS4. Hopefully that game will expand the best narrative and mechanical ideas from the original.
As much as I still like my Vita, I can't deny that Gravity Rush suffered for being a Vita exclusive. I'm happy that more people will be able to play the game and glad to see it get such a definitive, well-crafted console adaptation. This one's still a winner.