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Gravi

Score: 72%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Steam
Developer: Hashbang Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle/ Platformer/ Action

Graphics & Sound:

Indie developer Hashbang Games has recently released Gravi, a game that is graphically pleasing and almost cute at first, that is until the frustratingly difficult navigation takes hold. As a little blue ball of energy named Gravi, you are to work your way through traps, flames, spikes, and other typical platformer-style puzzles that look and feel the part, while its nemesis Anti-Gravi is on its tail.

While completely 3D in nature, the game plays like a 2D side-scroller platform game. As the camera adjusts to your position, however, the third dimension is revealed giving a bit more perspective to your current position, especially as you move in vertical levels.

The audio in Gravi is equally well done. The background music has a persistent, yet not annoying ring to it. The sound fx in Gravi are also adequate for this type of game, and hold the general feeling of a puzzle-platformer together. Something to note about this title is that it can easily be muted and nothing is lost from the gameplay experience.


Gameplay:

Gravi is a puzzle game where you control a little blue ball whose very being is comprised of energy. Using the ballís ability to shoot mini gravitational balls in the environment (or Mitosis as it is known in the game), you can help propel, guide, and launch Gravi around to avoid obstacles and reach certain areas to move forward.

There are two basic modes, if you will, of Gravi. On one hand, it can shoot out multiple mitosis balls of energy to decrease Graviís overall diameter, allowing it to get into tighter, smaller spaces or more easily pass through obstacles where a narrow gap separates life and death.

The main mode is where Gravi shoots a ball and is immediately propelled by the ballís gravitational field, providing the ball collides with the environment close enough to our hero to do so. This shot can act as a way to help Gravi swing from the ceilings, move more quickly through a tight situation, or generally just navigate upward through a level. Where some of the difficulty comes in, however, is that to shoot again, you have to wait for the mitosis ball to return to Graviís body, so there is a split second where the hero can plummet to his death.


Difficulty:

A level-based game, Gravi increasingly ups the difficulty as you progress. At first, guiding the little gravitational ball through the environments doesnít seem to be too much of a chore, but it doesnít take long to get a true taste of the frustration and success that Gravi has to offer. As an example, it took well over 30 minutes to clear a single, small little area simply because the control needed to be so precise that it became easy to succumb to deathÖ over and over again. But if you have an addictive personality, then Gravi will eventually survive.

By itself, maneuvering Gravi through each level is the main point of the game, but the ability to feel like you are in control does get lost, or at least it did for this reviewer. While I assume it to be intentional, controlling Gravi felt like he was on ice the whole time. In essence, the controls become part of the difficulty and the frustration. I suppose throwing energetic gravity balls around isnít something that can be taken lightly, but admittedly my blood pressure raised once in a while when too much precision seemed required in navigating Gravi. In the end, however, finally making it past some of these tough areas did feel rewarding and sometimes the best route is the simplest - Iíve found out the hard way.


Game Mechanics:

Iím more than happy to announce that Gravi allows for not only the use of the standard mouse and keyboard controls that you would expect from a PC title, but also other input devices. The keyboard/mouse controls work fine, but they seem to take a lot of getting used to due to the need to constantly move the mouse as you simply move left and right and propel yourself through each level. It can be said that more than once, it was extremely frustrating trying to navigate levels using this process. For some of the more simplified obstacles in the early levels, there wasnít that much of an issue. However, when precision and quick reflexes were needed, the keyboard and mouse controls just felt a bit clunky.

In a sheer moment of hope (or maybe desperation), however, the wireless Xbox controller converter was attached and saved the day. Gravi sensed the new input device and asked if I wanted to use it. While the Menu navigation was a bit odd with it, the gameplay control was not. Moving Gravi around with the Left Analog Stick and being able to aim with the Right Analog Stick somehow felt better, and more importantly, helped give a feeling of better control even if the little ball of energy still slipped and slid around a bit loosely.

All in all, Gravi is a title that can be picked up for a small payment and will offer enjoyment for those who like puzzle games with a bit of platforming flair. There are a few bugs and features that are under development at this point, however. Frustratingly difficult, yet rewarding in accomplishment, Gravi should draw a few eyes for indie game development worldwide.


-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 / 8; Any Processor 1 Core and up 1.5 GHz and up; 2 GB RAM; Any Graphics Card Supporting Direct X9 and up; Version 9.0; 500 MB available space; Any Sound Card Device
 

Test System:



Mac Book Pro with the following installed as a dual-boot:
Windows 7 64-bit with Service Pack 1 installed; Intel Core i7-3720QM CPU @ 2.60GHz 2.60 GHz; 8GB RAM; NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M

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