- Developer: Ivy Games
- Publisher: Ivy Games LLC
- Release date: 6th August 2019
- Genre: Physics Based Puzzler
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Macintosh operating systems, macOS
- Reviewed on: PS4
- Game Supplied by: Publisher
Ever wonder what it would be like to roam space as a child dressed in Dia De Los Muertos style? Well then, Gravity Ghost is the game for you! This little indie 2D platformer tries to deal with a lot of heavy subjects, like death, revenge and adolescent feelings. With around three hours worth of game time it doesn’t have much time to do it, but it gives it the good old college try!
This game tells the story of a young (presumably teenage) girl named Iona and her pet fox called Voy. They are best buddies and go everywhere together; it seems that Iona is more connected with Voy than she is with her own family. Unfortunately, Iona’s parents have passed away, and throughout the game it tells you the story of her feelings towards their deaths, as well as who she blames. It goes on to introduce various members of her family, including her three sisters, her sister’s boyfriend, the aged local poacher and an elderly woman who speaks in riddles.
At the beginning of the game you are flung into the universe, quite literally. Dressed in ghostly attire you are looking for a spirit fox within the far flung reaches of space. Throughout each level you have to jump from planet to planet collecting stars in order to open doors. These doors then lead you out into constellations which form the level map. Each level has its own unique requirements for completion; you can either ‘brute force’ it, or dance your way around the planets. When I say dance, I mean that each level can feel like you are dancing around the planets. The game mechanics work using gravity physics (hint is in the name of the game), to get from one planet to another you have to jump and fling yourself using the planet’s gravity, almost like an asteroid.
The controls are easy to get to grips with, each planet has its own gravitational pull, and by jumping away from the planet and circling around you can quite easily slingshot yourself through the level, almost too easily sometimes! In a few of the levels I’m pretty sure that I flung myself to the edge of the galaxy. One thing that regularly frustrated me was the left and right controls, usually these are simply ‘Press left to go to the left of the screen and press right to go to the right of the screen’. With Gravity Ghost it seems that the left and right switch at certain points, and I couldn’t figure out the exact point when they would switch. Sometimes they would switch when I was halfway down the screen and other times when I was upside down. This control mechanic ended up causing me real frustration right to the end of the game.
With each ‘constellation’ that you complete you are given a new power-up. These power-ups range from the ability to double jump, to literally becoming immaterial and being able to pass straight through planets. These appear to be optional as you can choose to complete the level a different way, however, I loved the ease of not only getting the power-ups, but also using them to make the levels easier. To get the power-ups you have to complete ball maze puzzles, and I loved these as a kid! Getting the ball from the centre of the maze to the outside always made me feel like I had accomplished my one true goal in life.
Whilst playing I noticed that each planet that you fell on could have different physical properties; some were normal, others were bouncy, and some were water filled, and so were difficult to jump out of. Iona is given the ability in each constellation to harness the power of the elements. This allows her to terraform planets to whatever form makes it easiest to complete a level. However, by doing this she uses up her ‘hair’. That’s right, her hair has the power of terraforming, and if she got a buzzcut then it would be bye-bye superpowers! Whilst playing the levels you can collect little tokens which allow Iona to grow her hair long, and this in turn allows you to terraform new planets.
Upon finishing the first constellation you are tasked with finding the spirit fox and picking up others on the way. This means that the game has other animal spirits that need your help. Their spirits are floating around the planets and need to find their way back to their skeletons in order for them to move on. This is where you come in, with each animal that you successfully help ‘move on’, you are given a snippet of the story. So if you don’t reunite all of the animal spirits then you’ll be left in the dark as to what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
Going back to the story, I can understand what the storyline is. But I feel that the game could have put a little more meat on the bones. I won’t ruin the story for you now, however, I was left definitely wanting more. I felt that the storyline was a little rushed and I didn’t really get a chance to feel for each character. I’m pretty sure that I only saw Iona’s youngest sister three times in the whole game! Like I said, I got the outline of the story, but I felt that it needed a little more colouring in.
The art style is almost 2D puppetry, the characters are jointed stiffly and move like puppets on a string, however, each character’s face can show emotions, and their mouths move when they speak. During the levels the 2D platformer style really comes into its own, with bright colours and deep backgrounds. There are no detailed effects like particle or body physics, Iona is very stiff to move around.
The one thing I will praise very highly in this game is the soundtrack. I have it on in the background right now, as I write this review. The light style of the music goes very well with the art style of the game. It allows you to enjoy the music and still focus on the game as it’s not distracting in any way. The light drums, alongside the piano and ‘twinkly’ xylophone go very well together. I would highly recommend this soundtrack for anyone that is going to sit down and study for a few hours. The voice acting in this game is good, however, I feel that some of the characters should enunciate a little more. I was definitely glad there were subtitles!
All in all, Gravity Ghost is a lovely little 2D platformer to sit down and play when you have some spare time. It’s not a game that will stick with me for years to come as the storyline didn’t wow me in any way. One thing that will stick with me though is the soundtrack; I’m so glad that this can be bought separately as it’s just beautiful.