The feeling of helplessness is horrible and unnerving. The lack of control can truly drive one angry or send them into tears out of sheer frustration, and that is the plight that Gravity Ghost instills with expert quality. Developed by Ivy Games, Gravity Ghost is a tale about a ghost girl who loses her ghost fox—at least I think that it is. I received an early press build for the game, which was missing much of the narrative. I don’t think that actually hurt the experience much though, as Gravity Ghost comes across strongly as a more depressing version of Angry Birds.
The story looks like it is going to be sad and overly dreary, but what drives that feeling home for this game is the vulnerability that gravity and weightlessness enforce. Gravity Ghost requires players to pick up certain items and hit various targets by leaping from planetoid to planetoid and building up speed to make the perfect arc, but the movements are always just too fast or too slow, never the right speed needed to hit the mark exactly. Other planetoids will either pull the ghost down or repel her, taking away the control of movement when she gets too close.
The world of Gravity Ghost is full of dark and empty levels with few bright colors or smiling faces. The art seems like it should be positive at first glance, a kind of Adventure Time aesthetic to it that becomes gloomy and foreboding when the levels actually start. The music is perfect for the game, engaging but slightly depressing as it beautifully sets the atmosphere and is all around odd and otherworldly. There is no life other than the main character, no one to interact with, even the instructions on how to play are simply written in the stars, leaving the player alone to figure out the rest.
The controls are simple, utilizing only three buttons and throwing in a few curve balls. Anyone can pick this game up and learn it easily by playing through the first few levels, things are added in later to allow for more movements and obstacles will change to give gameplay some variety. Overall, Gravity Ghost is basic in its nature and sticks close to the core mechanic without sacrificing any of the enjoyment, not trying to go too far outside of the box, no need to fix what isn’t broken.
With the controls being so rudimentary there is a feeling like the player has limited options, adding to the helpless and lost themes. Getting the ghost to move is easy, but moving just right is a different story, and the camera does not help either. Close-ups on the character can make it hard to gauge the next jump whereas wide shots will have some squinting to make sure they hit the item just right. In fact, it feels like someone took all of the interactive and cheery elements out of Mario Galaxy and birthed this game.
No matter how futile it may seem to try and find that cute vanishing ghost fox, everyone needs to try it. I’m not usually confident in games that rely on one mechanic to sell it, but Gravity Ghost is solid and beautifully designed. Even in its early form, it only glitched on me once and had very few other technical problems. I am not sure if it is a mistake that the camera acts the way it does, but it actually makes the game more challenging. I will want to play Gravity Ghost again, even if it did frustrate me towards the end. I can’t help but think that there should be a mobile version of it; something portable could do good money with this mechanic. This is one to keep an eye on.