Game: Gravity Oddity
Genre: Action, Adventure, Platformer
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on Steam (Windows), Xbox One and PS4)
Developer|Publisher: Invincible Cat
Age Rating: EU 7 | US E 10+
Price: US $14.99 | UK £13.49 | EU € 14,99
Release Date: September 13th, 2023
Review code provided with many thanks to Stride PR.
Gravity Oddity is a 2D action game where you’re tasked with exploring the cold expanse of space to save your friend. Also, it has roguelike elements. Much like the year’s seasons, the roguelike genre is vibrant in the world of indie development. Many games follow the traditional formula of loot, die and repeat until you win the day. So, it requires a special type of creative spice to make the game stand out from the crowd. This is something I am happy to report Gravity Oddity achieves. On appearances, it may not seem like much with its simple graphical design and 2D gameplay, but it didn’t take me long to play the game and start to feel something special about this experience.
You’re a new space recruit of a space corporation that came up with the clever invention of gravity boots. Special footwear that allows you to walk on any surface inside and outside the spaceship. After a short training session with the footwear, your roommate Gary is kidnapped. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing if it weren’t for the fact you can’t afford to pay the rent on your space apartment yourself. You then grab your buddies Newton and Stein, who are floating sidekicks, because why not? Then jump in a spaceship to save Gary, and while you’re at it, maybe save the universe too.
It’s witty and silly as plots go, yet it gets the job done. However, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The developer has gone the extra mile by adding codex entries for each enemy and area you visit, should you want to learn a few little bites of lore. My favourite feature is when you inevitably fail in a run, that character is gone for good, and you return as a new space recruit. It is very amusing how the game addresses this when you reach your goal, but I won’t spoil that here. The experience is family-friendly and suitable for everyone.
Explore the Levels
The overall goal of Gravity Oddity is to save poor Gary. To do this, you need to explore the levels, seeking out a boss who will unlock new coordinates to help you locate your roommate. This basically translates to defeating the boss at each level and repeating this formula until you achieve your goal. Boss fights are randomly generated, meaning you won’t always repeatedly deal with the same repetitive first boss. It’s also refreshing that boss fights require some thought and clever precision of shots as opposed to being tedious meat shields like most games in this genre.
You can access a useful mini-map that will point you in the right direction from the get-go. You can even use this to fast travel to various spots on each map to avoid tedious backtracking. Interestingly, this is available at the start of each level, so if you want to book it to the boss, you have that option should you wish. But this is a roguelike, so you’ll probably want to explore and loot for some upgrades.
Dotted across each level are various spaceships you can intercept. Within each are several enemies, and once defeated, you are rewarded with some futuristic chests. These may contain armour, hearts or the most valuable resource mods. These mods will modify your teleport gun and must be equipped with the options. They include adding special shields to your gun, upping firepower or making your bullets bounce off walls. There are several to unlock over the course of the game, with more being drip-fed between runs, giving the incentive to replay and discover their use.
Mods also have another important feature: they can be exchanged at various vending machines. An example of this is once you defeat the boss, you can sacrifice one mod to either increase your health, add an additional mod slot to your inventory or buff a special stat. Usually, the exchange is worth it. Unlike most roguelike games, it encourages you to rethink your strategy on the fly. Mods also have limited use so you can’t rely on them forever unless you choose to un-equip them and save them for later when needed.
Walk on Walls
Controls take a bit of getting used to. For starters, you can traverse walls and ceilings thanks to your gravity boots. You can instantly warp to any surface using your teleport gun, provided it is in range of the gun’s laser sight. This is helpful to quickly get out of harm’s way from hazards or traverse areas quickly. But if you want more control, you can just leap off platforms and then use your jetpack to navigate in space. This allows more freedom, although you’re much more vulnerable to enemy attacks. You can dash, but your stamina meter is limited. Shooting feels satisfying, particularly when you upgrade your gun. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it packs a solid punch that I was happy to return run after run.
My main niggle is the game can become a bit overwhelming with enemies later in the runs. It can be really hard to dodge or navigate out of harm’s way when there is so much noise on the screen, including enemies shooting you, hazards on the floor and lasers. This can become even more cluttered in boss fights. I still want to give credit that the gameplay doesn’t slow down when this happens.
Simple but Immersive
On initial appearances, this doesn’t look like the winner of the video game beauty contest. Graphics feel simple in their 2D design with basic sprites. Levels generally have you navigating through various spaceships interconnected by a trail of asteroids. The levels are randomly generated, but each design feels similar across each level you explore, not having the most variation.
I have to say its simple approach quickly grew on me, and it in no way interfered with my gameplay experience. This is a great example of a developer working with their artistic limitations and making the most of their skills. If you stop to look carefully, there are eye-catching moments, such as watching your spaceship launch into hyperspace between levels. Exploring outside of the spaceships makes the game feel vast and expansive, making me feel like I was quite the space adventurer. The game may not have the best graphics, but I was very immersed in the experience. On top of this, the game performs great on TV and handheld, and I encountered no glitches during the review.
Gravity Oddity will drip-feed content at a nice, steady rate as you make your way through each run. You seem to accumulate points naturally, which will tally up to unlock several more mods and new challenge rooms in future runs. Some enemies will drop yellow cards, which can also be exchanged for new cosmetics that allow you to customize your spaceman and companies to whatever weird appearance or colour shade you fancy.
If that wasn’t enough, the game even features some generous accessibility features to make the experience a little more welcoming, or if you’re just having one of those days where you don’t want to stress. They include additional extra shields, do not require a reload and have unlimited stamina. They won’t make the game a total cakewalk, though, still maintaining a little challenge to make the gameplay experience engaging.
Conclusion: Odd and Fun in a Good Way
Overall, I really liked Gravity Oddity. On the surface, it’s fair some gamers will play this and just see a by-the-numbers action roguelike with simple graphics. For me, it goes so much deeper than that if you give it the time. This truly feels like a game the developer sank a lot of love working within their boundaries yet making something unique and charming.
Sure, I found things got hectic at times, and like any roguelike, this has some crazy difficulty spikes that you don’t expect. But I sure had a lot of fun playing this and feel it’s worth your time, whether you are new to roguelikes or experienced in the genre. Gravity Oddity took me to the stars, and I was very happy with the journey, even if it meant a lot of failures in the process.
Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot