I’ve had the last couple of weeks to check out Couch Co-op 2D Shooter Gravity Heroes! I’ll go over some of my favorite moments playing the game and tell you a little about what you can expect from this hidden gem. I will be reviewing the game based on the PlayStation 4 version of the game.
Title: Gravity Heroes
Developed By: Studica Solution, Electric Monkeys
Published By: PQube
Genre: Side-Scroller, Shooter, Platformer
Release Date: 19 Feb, 2021 (Steam), 9th Apr, 2021, (Switch, Xbox One, PS4)
Review Platform: PS4
Review Copy Supplied? Yes
Restrike the Balance Between Man and Machine
Set in a post-war futuristic setting, Gravity Heroes is a 2D pixel art shooter with a futuristic vibe. The colorful aesthetic and beautiful visuals gives you the vibe that this will be a steady, easy-going shooter. This could not be more wrong. At the start of the game you are thrust straight into your first mission. (That being said there is a tutorial available from the main menu.) Unfortunately I saw the tutorial after starting the campaign. (You can blame an eager co-op partner for that one!)
Which is a great time to point out. Gravity Heroes supports couch co-op gameplay for up to 4 players. Everyone can pick a character and each character in the game has their own dialogue throughout the campaign. Very cool indeed. I have to say that is what first drew me to Gravity heroes in the first place as I love playing games in couch co-op. So, the adventure starts and after some dialogue between the characters you are brought for your first mission.
Each mission in Gravity Heroes takes place on its own small map area. There isn’t a vast map to explore such as in Terraria or the classic Super Mario games. You will simply be put onto your “fighting area”. You’ll stay on the same map and fight increasingly difficult waves of enemies per level. Though the levels look quite small to begin with you will quickly understand how great the gravity mechanic is. Basically the main point of difference in Gravity Heroes compares to similar titles is well… the gravity! It says to right there in the title. With the push of a button you can flip gravity upside-down and walk around on the roof. This opens up so many new gameplay avenues in the game.
The simplicity of the level designs creates so many new gameplay options. Need to get to the other side of a map? Drop down to the bottom of the area and switch your gravity to that side. You can even toggle between different gravity’s mid-air which allows for some flying gameplay. Though it might be confusing at first this is one of those mechanics that ‘just works’ once you get the hang of it.
A Steep Learning Curve… But at Least It’s a Beautiful Death!
Side-scrolling shooters are generally pretty easy to pick-up. This is due to the fact there aren’t so many controls to play around with in a 2D environment. We’ve seen titles like Cuphead play with the idea of creating super-difficult shooter environments. Even in the last few years we’ve seen a lot of game design focus from user-friendly to creating difficult rewarding experience. Gravity Heroes falls somewhere around the difficult side. I wouldn’t say I am an expert on 2D shooters but I do have my experience. That being said I found the first boss of the game very difficult. My co-op partner and I died a countless amount of times during the fight. The real beauty of Gravity Heroes is the fact you can just grab it and try again. There really isn’t a lot of down-time after you fail a mission or are defeated by a boss. You can just start it again without it feeling like a slog. The game makes you want to beat it.
There wasn’t ever a death on our part where we thought it was due to the game design. The combat is tight and unforgiving but the game is fair. Press the wrong button and flipped your gravity to the right instead of left? You’re not going to repeat that again. There is a great mechanic as well in the form of pick-ups. you can pick up little boosts that will have your weapon do more damage or perhaps give you a better shield so you can take more hits. The pickups provide a little risk and reward system. Will you try to get behind the boss and grab that health pack? Of will you play it safe and keep slogging away at their health? The game is designed in a great way that really makes you fight for a victory.
Pixel Graphics… Really?
Yes we’ve seen a rise in pixel graphics in the last few years. Though I must admit the pixel games are getting a bit much I think it works very well in the 2D shooter setting. Especially given the setting of Gravity Heroes. The background are fantastic and the way the way the character models blend in to them is great. The only thing I’d say is a little bit bland is the general enemy sprites. You have these amazing boss battles that last over 15 minutes and different stages with different shield and mechanics. Then you have the missions in between where you are just slogging away at small pixel tanks and flying robots. Don’t get me wrong, the graphics are great and the game is beautiful. In my opinion, the pixel tank robot enemies are just a little bit overused. I can’t really see them having any identity. The same sprite could be used in every 2D pixel shooter and I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
That being said, the boss battles… *Chef’s kiss*. The boss battles are something else. If anything can redeem the slog of the mission just blasting through waves of faceless enemies it is these fantastic boss battles. I live (and die, constantly…) for these boss battles at the end of the mission. The character design, fantastic and unique. The bosses, incredible. The general grunt enemies, eh.
After a few weeks in the game I gotta say I really enjoy it. When I first sat down with a friend to play through the game in co-op we were both pleasantly surprised at the challenge it brings. The cover art makes it seem like it will be a walk in the park shooter. It is anything but. Between learning the controls, mechanics and the new challenge each boss brings, you’ll find yourself surprisingly pushed back most of the way.
Gravity Heroes is a great 2D shooter which implements an interesting mechanic in the way you can change gravity at will. Difficult to learn and difficult to master this one is a challenge you really won’t see coming. It is really great for sitting down with a friend and pumping out some robots though. Play this one with a gamer friend.
You can purchase Gravity Heroes on the following platforms:
Check it out and jump straight into couch co-op with your friend this weekend!
Have you played Gravity Heroes? How did you like it? Leave a comment below and tell me how long it took you to figure out the gravity mechanic.