The concept for Gravity Heroes is simple enough (fight off waves of enemies in a 2D arena), and the opening two levels seem to evoke a feeling of comfortability, being fairly simple to get through. However, Electric Monkeys have delivered a pretty solid curve ball in the first boss – I got my ass beat repeatedly! From here, Gravity Heroes opens up both in terms of letting us get to grips with its mechanics, and the sheer challenge on offer. It’s a lot of, quite frustrating, fun.
Arenas are single screen affairs, with enemies appearing through portals that appear at the edges of the screen. There are four characters to choose from, though there didn’t seems to be much difference in how they played, only really affecting the pre-and-post level dialogue and story. We begin with just a simple blaster – enough to take foes down, albeit slowly – with further, more powerful weapons and pick-ups dropped intermittently by friendly drones. Clear a wave, and we’re granted a few seconds to gather any pick-ups and our bearings before more enemies drop in.
The real tricky part to Gravity Heroes though is in that title; we’re able to adjust our gravitational alignment at any time with a flick of the right stick, seeing our character lift up off the floor and ‘fall’ towards the new alignment. We can still move and shoot while doing this and it’s the combination of manipulating gravity and tough enemies that can bring out some rage inducing moments. For me, it was too easy to accidently flick the stick slightly the wrong way, or get it right but have my character then firing the wrong direction for a few seconds. We’re only able to fire forwards, but it felt a little awkward to accurately hit enemies when also moving between the four surfaces around me.
We also keep firing in the same direction even if we change our movement direction (so running and gunning to the right, we keep firing to the right even if we start running left) unless we release the fire button, which also didn’t quite sit right with me, especially at there’s a dedicated button there to allow us to manually do this. The slight delay in releasing the button and the game letting us begin firing the other way feels too long as well. More than once I attempted to aim with the right stick too, only to find myself flying off into danger (admittedly, that’s on me, but I just couldn’t quite shake the feeling that the control scheme could have been slightly more intuitive).
So while the initial impressions might have been of frustration, sticking with it I found myself enjoying it more and more. I certainly didn’t master the controls, but once I got to grips with certain tactics (such as wall sliding to help with aiming, and utilising environmental advantages) I started to find the levels opened up. Each stage only has a handful of waves but there are no time restrictions, so we can take out enemies at our own pace. Making smart use of the pick-ups, be it health, armour, grenades, or turrets helps immensely.
There are two levels in each of the four areas, with an additional Boss battle too. These battles are inentive, but even tougher than the main levels. One saw me fighting a floating fire robot, only to be joined by their icy twin just as I started to think I had the upper hand. Again, I struggled with aiming accurately in these, especially in this example as they drop harmful lasers at the corners of the arena frequently, forcing us to keep on the move – and more often this meant diving directly into the boss and taking damage. Our friendly robots still drop pick-ups but the RNG nature of what they bring can really affect our chances; on the first dozen attempts at this boss I was getting almost useless shotguns and grenades, whereas when I finally beat them it was mainly due to having gotten a revive kit, several health packs and a machine gun.
The actual encounters though are generally smartly designed as well as being tough. One sees us need to solve a rudimentary puzzle before we can begin the fight, and also has a mid-fight checkpoint as the battle arena changes dramatically. The excellent pixel art visuals help the boss fights stand out, and despite the challenge being a little too much at times I found myself enjoying them for the most part.
Gravity Heroes can be played in local co-op with up to four players, though I’ve not had chance to try this out due to, well, *broadly gestures at everything*. The skill level required is a little above my kids ability right now, but I’m keen to try this once we can get a few mates round again. There is also a hard mode to be unlocked should the initial challenge not be enough.
Gravity Heroes can be too tough at times early on, but those that persevere will find and enjoyable twist on 2D, wave-based attack arenas. Some lovely pixel art and music help soften the repeated defeats, and while a little unintuitive, the core gameplay is fun more often than not.Become a Patron!
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.