There is an issue, a disturbance really, and it needs investigating. It’s all to do with robots – wouldn’t you know it, they’ve gone and only started killing everything. Your job here – pick a coloured character, and kill them back.
Each stage has presents a single screen level of assorted layouts and platforms. It all seems like standard 2D shooter-fare to begin with, fire a jump, run and jump – actually very similar to the Metal Slug series. But then you change gravity.
As the title suggests, Gravity Heroes involves the invisible force itself. A flick of the right stick and your character is whisked off towards that side of the map. Your brain needs to recalibrate, left is now right, right is left. Maybe you flick the stick to the left, and now the left is up. The enemies will move about on their own, so your gravitational pull becomes essential to manage in order to put yourself at the most optimum position.
You’re not bulletproof. In fact, you really don’t want to take too much damage here, and you can only jump to avoid so many of the bullets. This isn’t a bullet dodger, but it requires careful thought as in most cases, the way in which you will navigate the stages is by seeing them at every angle, rather than just four walls to cling to. In fact, just running along the bottom (or, edges as it should be) of each stage is rarely effective as you’re a target for every enemy along that line. So a simple ledge with maybe a drop-off from one angle presents great cover from another.
The real skill – and fun – come as you start to flick the stick like a ninja, and move the pull of gravity as you’re mid-flight. What this results in is a way to quickly finesse-travel you’re way around the stage, positioning yourself to do damage to enemies before they have time to react and change their focus towards you. As they do, you’re off again to another zone to continue your attack. The downside, of course, is that if you get your timing wrong (either literally, or mentally as your brain struggles to adjust and catch up) it all comes across a bit ‘fingers-and-thumbs’ and you feel like a dope.
The presentation of Gravity Heroes is top-notch; the pixel-art style is bright, colourful, and nicely animated, and has a really high level of polish on it. Sadly, the difficulty levels are not as polished. It’s really, really hard, and if (when?) you die, you’ll need to restart the stage. Unless you’re playing in multiplayer, whereby the enemies and difficulty do not scale, and players can be revived as long as one player is still going. This is a baffling decision, giving multiplayers the ability to keep going, but in single-player once you’re dead, you’re dead. If anything it should be the other way around!
Whilst making it easier with more players, it does not make it easier on the eye. There is a lot going on here at any time, adding more players however really ramps up the confusion. I liken it to Smash Bros where there’s a lot going on and in any game, if you’re having to take a moment to figure out where your character is, you do feel a bit at the mercy of the game as to whether you’re successful or not rather than your own skill.
There’s a lot to like here, but similarly, there’s a lot to frustrate. I think ultimately it’s going to very much depend on your levels of patience and how much you like these super-hard shooters, although even then the gravity mechanic makes it quite different than the ‘core’ type ‘shmups that it may find it difficult to secure a more general fanbase.
Reviewed on PS4