I’ve always been fascinated by black holes. The idea that they can warp the very fabric of space-time still blows my mind. It’s interesting then, to see a game such as Gravity Runner, which messes with the laws of physics in a challenging, albeit flawed, platformer.
Gravity Runner Mini Review
After ejecting out of your space ship, a menacing black hole transports you to a neon-soaked world full of strange objects that form a makeshift path to safety. As you begin to jump across each platform, you’ll notice they start to behave rather strangely. This is because there’s another black hole on your tail; a counter in the game’s UI indicates how close the black hole is to catching up with you. The closer it is, the harder it is to escape, as the gravity warps your jumps and flips platforms at will.
Along the way, you’ll encounter numerous retro-style cassette tapes, which not only add points to your score, but also give you a one-time double jump ability. This is particularly useful for putting that extra bit of distance between you and the ol’ hole. When you inevitably fall to your doom, you’ll respawn at the last checkpoint, which obviously puts you much closer to the warped gravity and therefore much harder to reach the next platform.
It’s fair to say, then, that Gravity Runner rewards precision. However, the controls often feel imprecise, even without the ever-changing physics. When you jump onto a platform, you’re constantly pulling back on the analogue stick mid-air to adjust your trajectory. As a result, you can end up running straight off a platform even after landing successfully. This can be frustrating to say the least, but you’ll soon get used to adjusting accordingly as you progress through the game’s 14 levels.
You spin me right round, baby
In later levels, blocks will start to move up and down, making things even more challenging. However, as they move, each platform will change colour from red through to blue (red is a no-go, blue is stable) so you can start to play tactically and time your jumps for the right platform. You’ll also encounter glowing portals to jump through, which completely flip the world on it’s head. It’s a pretty cool mechanic that helps to keep each level fresh.
Gravity Runner’s strongest point is definitely the killer synthwave soundtrack. It pumps you up for each run and lends a retro-style, arcade vibe to the world. The game also tracks high scores which is great for replayability, although you may find just getting to the end of each level is enough. Despite a couple of hard crashes, Gravity Runner plays pretty smoothly and feels well suited to playing handheld.
Gravity Runner is an adequate platformer with pretty visuals and a great soundtrack. The interesting gravity mechanic is let down by imprecise controls which take a while to get used to. You’ll find nothing new here, but if you’re after something to challenge you on your lunch break, this will do just fine.