Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
We played on: PC
I’ve been gaming a long time. I’ve played strategy games, role-playing games, action- adventure games, and platform games, and for the most part games don’t deviate much from their genre. Sure, the stories and settings change, but the base gameplay mechanics stay the same. That’s why Gravity Ghost got my attention. It doesn’t fit into any of the traditional gaming molds. Its entirely unique gameplay makes it a delight to play and a must-have for PC gamers.
Gravity Ghost is about Iona, a rebellious little girl who belongs to a family of lighthouse keepers. Iona makes friends with a wild fox, much to the chagrin of her older sister. Iona’s relationship with the fox has led to her death, and she appears as a ghost in the gameplay, but at the beginning of the game the player doesn’t know why Iona is a ghost. The story is given in bits and pieces scattered throughout game. While the plot itself is pretty good, some of the jokey dialogue doesn’t really fit in with the somewhat dark story and peaceful, zen-like gameplay. The cinematics that convey the story aren’t that great either. They’re delivered in a choppy, pencil-drawn animation style that feels a little off. But these drawbacks to the story aren’t enough to bring down the whole experience, because the gameplay is fantastic.
You play as a ghost form of Iona out in space as she searches for her fox friend. Your end goal is to heal a massive black hole by collecting pieces of an injured planet scattered throughout the galaxy. Each piece of the planet is guarded by a large spirit animal, and there are a number of smaller levels you must complete on your way to those guardians. In each level you must capture a star that opens the door to the next level. The concept of the gameplay is simple, but it becomes really unique in that you’re flying through space from planet to planet, and each planet has gravity that can pull you down to the surface if you get too close. You must break away from or use the gravity to traverse the areas of space.
Along the way there are flowers Iona can pick up, which lengthen her hair. Her long hair enables her to carry spirit animals (which can also be collected in some levels). You must find the skeleton that matches the spirit animal you’re carrying in order to unlock a piece of the story. Often you’ll encounter a skeleton before you’ve found the correct animal, so there’s a bit of backtracking involved to match them, but the levels are so short that this doesn’t feel like a burden.
Later in the game, you collect the ability to harness the elements, which enable you to change the surface of each planet to help you proceed. For example, if the star you need to open the door is at the center of an earth planet, you can change the planet to water so you can dive into it to retrieve the star.
Besides all those gameplay elements, there are also puzzles and mazes scattered throughout some of the levels that earn you abilities to help your navigation, such as double-jumping (which can be invaluable in escaping a planet’s gravity), or making yourself heavy, which will quickly pull you to the nearest planet.
Bouncing from planet to planet and gliding through space made me feel an almost zen-like calm, despite how challenging some of the levels can be. I found myself returning to earlier levels simply to fly along and through the planets for fun with no goal in mind.
Gravity Ghost is not rated by the ESRB, but my opinion is that if it were it would probably be E10+. After Iona’s death her older sister, seeking revenge, turns a rifle on Iona’s fox friend and it’s inferred that she kills him, though the actual shot is never explicitly shown.
Gravity Ghost is a fantastic game, and I don’t say that lightly. While the delivery of the story has some issues, there’s nothing that can take away from the truly unique gameplay. Lots of kids (and adults) dream of going to outer space. Gravity Ghost lets you do that in a way you’ve never imagined. As a bonus, if you buy the game, you get another copy free to give to a friend.