Gravity Rush is a franchise that deserved better, and that goes double for its heroine.
By Jade King
Published Apr 16, 2021
Gravity Rush is a franchise I wish more people paid attention to. It had a passionate community of fans and the second entry tried its best to enter the mainstream, but Japan Studio’s ambitious new IP never received the limelight it truly deserved. This is such a shame, since it boasts one of the most unique worlds of the past generation, with a lovable cast of characters who helped its unusual setting feel grounded and relatable.
At the centre of this sits Kat – a bubbly heroine who suddenly finds herself christened with superpowers. Little is known about Kat’s origins when the first game begins – she is simply a young girl who awakens with no memory of her past, finding an otherworldly black cat purring beside her. Following a small bit of investigation, it emerges that she resides in the town of Hekseville, a floating metropolis defined by messy streets, steampunk architecture, and a rusted colour palette that spreads throughout its entire aesthetic.
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Before she can get her bearings, Kat stumbles upon another revelation – she now has the power to influence gravity at will. It’s hardly a graceful superpower – Kat can suspend herself in the air before hurling herself into the distance, like a sack of bricks being yeeted across a football field by John Cena. She’s no Iron Man or Thor, but it’s this clumsy earnestness that makes her such a brilliant central character.
As she befriends the inhabitants of Hekseville, Kat grows from a lowly street urchin into a hero who can be trusted, someone who is called upon when cats need rescuing from trees or thieves need stopping in their tracks. She’ll also need to deal with the Nevi, a strange species of alien creatures who love to cause chaos wherever she goes. Throughout the first game it was delightful to see Kat mature as a character, and not be afraid to let her imperfections be a defining aspect of her personality.
Each new situation is a challenge for Kat, whether it be socially engaging with groups of rowdy civilians or risking her life against deadly monsters – both are treated as serious matters. Nobody in Gravity Rush speaks English, with the fictional language the game uses being a creative mixture of French and Japanese. Because of this, everything is expressed through written dialogue and body language, making the personality radiating from Kat all the more impressive.
Gravity Rush 2 only furthers her excellence, providing our heroine with a much larger setting and more ambitious narrative to bounce around in. While the first game felt like a collection of shorter scenarios for Kat to involve herself in, the second is far more grand in its circumstances, assuming knowledge of Kat and her friends as they are hurled into a new city with new troubles to contend with. Raven, a villain in the first game, returns as a friend whose personality is placed in perfect juxtaposition with Kat’s. Together, they make a perfect team with infectious chemistry. I ship them, because I’m that damn predictable.
Once her past does rear its head, Kat’s character becomes a little less interesting. The amnesiac protagonist is normally a tired trope, but here I think it really works. Kat exists in a world we are discovering alongside her for the first time, so a lack of history cements her as a protagonist we can easily relate to. Weigh her down with loads of emotional history and that investment is pulled away, replaced with exposition that doesn’t fit the happy-go-lucky vibe Gravity Rush is going for. Luckily, it takes up such a small percentage of the runtime that it’s easy to forgive.
With the closure of Japan Studio and exodus of staff, the future of Gravity Rush doesn’t look good. I doubt we’ll see another entry in the franchise anytime soon, with Kat likely being shelved as a potential heroine alongside the game. As she settles into the annals of gaming history, I think it’s important we don’t forget female characters like her. She’s a tomboyish lead with a loving enthusiasm to learn new things and help those in need, all while making plenty of friends along the way.
She’s just a girl who happens to adopt superpowers and decides to have some fun with them while hanging with Dusty. That’s her cat, in case I forgot to mention.
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About The Author
(256 Articles Published)
Jade King is one of the Features Editors for TheGamer. Previously Gaming Editor over at Trusted Reviews, she can be found talking about games, anime and retweeting Catradora fanart @KonaYMA6.
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