One thing is very clear about Gravity Rush: someone at Sony Japan really enjoyed Platinum Games’s flamboyant bruiser Bayonetta.
We’re not just talking about protagonist Kat’s scantily clad witchy attire or the gothic European-stylised city she lurches around.
In the opening moments of our brief demo session at the Manchester Vita Rooms we discovered that Kat, like many heroes before her, suffers from a case of memory loss.
As clichéd as it might sound, Gravity Rush is anything but.
The game centres on Kat’s new ability to shift her gravity, allowing her to walk firmly on any surface. With the tap of a button she’s flung upwards to float in mid-air. You then choose your surface with another button-press and send Kat hurtling towards the side of a building, where she lands with a satisfying thud.
It’s a fun and interesting idea that this brief demo simply doesn’t do justice to.
The more your fingers become accustomed to Kat’s gravity-defying abilities the more your mind conjures up Portal-like scenarios in which to put the mechanic to the test. In the opening stages you just follow waypoints.
And fight. You need to call on Kat's powers as you face off against shadowy blobs who are out of reach of her feeble punches.
As with movement, you leap into the air and then direct yourself at enemies to attack them. In one early boss fight you need to use gravity to search the dimensions for a weak spot.
Perhaps the most astonishing thing about Gravity Rush is the name behind it.
Keiichiro Toyama, a man who’s better known for scaring his audience with psychological teasers and hide-in-the-cupboard thrills in the Silent Hill series, is at the helm of this bizarre adventure, which is a far cry from his survival-horror legacy.
The floating city of Hekseville is Kat’s playground. Its colours aren’t particularly bold save for the gorgeous red skies that create distinct backdrops, but in motion it’s a painting ripped out of its frame and brought to life.
There’s also this rather neat comic book method of storytelling that spreads each panel across the Vita’s huge OLED screen to be flicked through by wiping your finger over the screen. By tilting the handheld and fiddling with the rear touch panel, you can move each comic screen in a pseudo-3D fashion - a neat gimmick but a gimmick nonetheless.
At the centre of Gravity Rush is a unique idea. How it will fare when it's put through its paces in the full game is yet to be seen, but it makes Gravity Rush one of the most interesting and unique titles Sony’s handheld has going for it - a bold new IP in a line-up composed of familiar names and faces.
Toyama has already expressed interest in a sequel. Whether or not it’ll deserve a second innings remains to be seen, but this is one to watch very closely this spring.