I have a bit of a bone to pick with video games that rely on ball physics. For various reasons the act of rolling a spherical object around in a digital world almost always proves extremely frustrating to me, as there is a fine line between overt realism and cartoon looseness that is often stepped over one way or the other to make for an unsatisfying experience. Gravi personifies the bulk of my gripes with this style of game, a hodgepodge of bad design decisions, uninspired art and music, and soulless level design.
Gravi functions around a core mechanic: creating temporary gravity fields which suck you toward them, by which you make your way around the levels, flipping switches, avoiding traps, and getting to the end pipe. Actually creating these fields is not nearly as intuitive as it should be however, and the controls leave a great deal on the table with regards to movement and precision (whether using a controller or keyboard and mouse). Your ball is either rolling sluggishly or far too fast and shooting gravity fields is almost trial and error like with how quickly and erratically you have to place them to survive.
This is worsened by the almost instant difficulty spike which only grows higher with each passing level. Checkpoints are placed annoyingly far apart, certain switches are timed which calls for even faster movement than usual (and yet there is no distinction between timed and normal switches), and the developers even try to work in multiplane levels (ala LittleBigPlanet) which more often than not winds up breaking and glitching you into spikes or other hazards (I also experienced at least one glitch that put me inside a piece of the environment). Some will defend these problems because the game is listed as being "Early Access", but with how long it has been available elsewhere without a beta or otherwise incomplete label, I find it rather inexcusable and just inherent to the poor design.
I played about halfway through the game before deciding to quit, and was bored well before I reached that point. The art direction is so bland and the music so generic, that the whole experience feels lifeless and disconnected. Even had the gameplay been better (or even good, which I would certainly not consider it) nothing about the way it plays or is presented is at all compelling and although I didn't expect a to actually become attached or care about a little glowing ball, I found it impossible to become even somewhat interested in anything the game offered.
Gravi is derivative, at times almost broken, and just not fun. Despite my prejudice against ball physics and games that utilize them, I feel I gave it more than a fair chance to prove me wrong, and yet all it did was further affirm my original thoughts while disappointing me all the same with its own form of mediocrity.
Posted: December 19th, 2013