ReviewsReview: Gravity Heroes

Review: Gravity Heroes

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Mankind has an instinct to be at the top of the food chain, the alpha being. Our desire to be number one has made us do some truly horrendous things to the world. The aggressive reaction to any situation is usually down to fear, rather than the need to destroy everything that crosses our path. Artificial Intelligence is a creation of our own doing, and the more we push it, the better it becomes. Our lust for the next big thing will come back to haunt us, and no matter the firepower at our disposal, we will be powerless to stop it. Gravity Heroes explores what happens when Synthetics go rogue, and we no longer hold the alpha position.

Developed by Electric Monkey and published by PQube, this 80s and 90s inspired platform arena shooter will have your head spinning from start to end. A fast-paced and hectic affair, this solo or local co-op title allows up to four players to share a screen and destroy the robots that are running amuck.

Work together and eradicate the Synthetics.

Gravity Heroes will mess with your head!

Platform games are tough enough! Timing your jumps to perfection, killing your enemies, and overcoming any obstacles, increase the difficulty. So, when an additional element is chucked into the mix, it has the potential to be a fantastic idea or a step too far. What’s this extra element? Oh, just the ability to mess with gravity. Isaac Newton will not be a happy man!

We may have an upset physicist on our hands, but who cares. Playing with gravity was a great layer to add to this arena shooter. Flying around and shooting lasers at the nearest robot was enthralling! It gave you the ability to fire in all directions, even though you could only aim side to side. It was brilliant, but it messed with your head repeatedly. Leaping from one surface and being drawn to another took some getting used to. For much of the time, I was all fingers and thumbs, though this confusion didn’t diffuse the joy I was having.

When robots take over, you know it’s bad news.

The story is a simple tale of Synthetics gone mad. They are programmed to obey humans and never to hurt them. But shock horror, they break their programming and become the deadly high powered killing machines everyone fears. The only way to deal with this is to send in a team of up to four brave soldiers. Their job? To investigate the issue and wipe out any threat.

It’s a basic tale that doesn’t pull on any heartstrings and isn’t highly original. However, everyone loves when mankind comes back from the brink, and then allegedly learns from the mistakes made. Gravity Heroes’ main story is split across several locations, and each chapter comprises a few stages and a boss fight. The setup for each level is the same; spawn into a location, familiarise yourself with the space, and defeat wave after wave of angry robots.

The complexity of the situation is minimal as the Synthetics are restricted in their weapon aim as well. As long as you stay out of their line of sight, they can’t attack you. Seems easy, right? If only it were that simple. Kamikaze robots fling themselves at you, others fly towards you, and then there are the laser towers. Everything wants to destroy you. It’s you or them, and there can only be one winner.

So many enemies, what are you going to do?

Giant bosses and plenty of firepower.

A platform shooter wouldn’t be much fun if there weren’t ridiculous amounts of firepower, and some gargantuan bosses to defeat. Gravity Heroes doesn’t let us down on this front. Assisted by a friendly robot, you will receive a range of power-ups per level; grenades, armour, first aid, and guns, lots and lots of guns. This additional arsenal of weapons can be the difference between success and failure. Choosing the right one can be tough, but you’ll have fun experimenting as you blow your foes from the sky.

The end bosses are massive, aggressive, but also predictable. Their attack patterns are soon worked out. Once you know what you are doing, patience and some luck are all you need to succeed. Most of the bosses are as ridiculous as the story, so you’ll enjoy seeing what the developers have come up with for the finale of each chapter.

Predictably pixelated, but wonderful to look at.

The moment I see the phrase “inspired by the 80s and 90s” I know I’m in for a pixelated ride. This wonderful retro look worked perfectly. The sprites were colourful and detailed enough to be enjoyable to look at. Each of the weapons had a unique appearance, which made selecting the right one for you an easy task. Each world had its style and used a variety of colours, platforms and backgrounds to make them all appear different. The action heats up considerably in the latter stages, and the screen gets overloaded with enemies. But when this occurred, I experienced no slow down or issues that impacted the performance.

The quality wasn’t unique to the visuals. No, the audio joined in with its electric, upbeat sounds and aggressive tones. The metallic edge to the music enhanced the space/robotic theme. With simple but well thought out sound effects, the audio complements the graphics and the gameplay, even though it doesn’t overpower the other elements.

A forcefield won’t save you.

A well-designed tutorial, simple controls, but hard to master.

With the world constantly spinning, this isn’t the easiest game to control. Changing your heading at the push of a button easily confused me and made it challenging to master. Electric Monkey tried to overcome this with a thorough tutorial, but this didn’t make my mind work it out any quicker. The difficulty doesn’t reduce the fun, it simply makes the later stages much harder to play.

With a campaign and an arcade survival mode to play, there are various reasons to return to play. Each can be attempted solo, or with up to three friends. Unlike the PC version, there is no online mode, so it’s retro in look and its couch sharing gameplay. The survival mode is as expected; wave after wave of robots must be annihilated. Eventually, you are overwhelmed and it’s game over. It was great fun, even if it doesn’t stray away from the usual format. The campaign gets progressively harder, and this is where the co-op action works so well. Teamwork and tactics make mincemeat of the Synthetics, even though it was tough to orchestrate a plan when you are ignoring gravity. 

Gravity Heroes was a pleasant surprise. 

I’ve played countless retro-inspired platform games, but none like Gravity Heroes. It behaves more like Smash TV’s arena gameplay than your standard platform outing. It centres its focus on its gravity-defying mechanic and arena shooting over its platforming label. Easy to pick up, but tough to master. This will keep you playing for hours and will demand you return because of its replay value. I recommend it, so buy it here! No one wants AI to take over, and when the Synthetics go rogue, a team of heroes must step up and eradicate the threat. Do you have what it takes to join this admired group? 

SUMMARY

Gravity Heroes is a fast-paced platform arena shooter that is inspired by the 80s and the 90s. Addictive and challenging gameplay is married up with a predictable, yet fun storyline. Excellent to play alone, but much better with friends.

+ Unique landscapes and crisp pixelated graphics.
+ Great audio that matches the theme.
+ Simple to master, but difficult to master.
+ The gravity mechanic works brilliantly.
+ Addictive.
+ Great value for money.
- No online play.

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.)
Daniel Waite
Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I've now found a new home to write my reviews, and get my opinion out to the masses. Still the lead admin for Xboxseriesfans on Facebook and Instagram. I love the gaming world, and writing about it. I can be contacted at [email protected] for gaming reviews.
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