Defy Gravity – In Depth Review


Publisher: Fish Factory Games
Developer: Fish Factory Games
ESRB Rating: Not Rated

On a quest to find an artifact that will save her world, Kara, finds the ancient ruins that she has been seeking.  Armed only with her gravity gun and her wits, she enters the facility having to navigate through many obstacles keeping her from her goal.  But can she accomplish this mission and save her planet?

Defy Gravity is a side-scrolling platform puzzle shooter now available on Xbox Live Indie Games.  However, this shooter is with a bit of a twist.  Instead of shooting bad guys with guns, you’re shooting gravity.  And using the laws of physics against the enemy is always a good time.  But can this new release from Fish Factory Games hold up on its own?

Gameplay

All bad puns aside, when it comes to the actual game play, Defy Gravity is a very well done game all around.  The controls are very basic and easy to learn.  You use the left and right triggers while aiming with the right analog stick to fire gravity wells that will either repel you or attract you respectively.  Likewise, if you want to deactivate these gravity wells, you simply use the corresponding shoulder button to do so.  A Gravity Shield is also available using either the X button for a quick toggle, or the B button to maintain the shield.  This renders you immune to the effects of the gravity wells that you either create or encounter throughout the various levels.

The levels are laid out in various levels of challenge instead of becoming progressively harder.  This can actually throw you for a bit of a loop as you’ll sometimes find yourself getting through an exceptionally hard level, and then over thinking the next one only to find that the solution was rather simple.  I think this actually adds an additional level of challenge to the game, as you’ll findthat you’re not only playing against the level, but against yourself as well.

While there are some periods you can take a moment and think about how you should approach a particular problem, more often than not you’ll find that you have to think quickly on your feet. A twitch of the controller in the wrong direction or a momentary lapse in ‘which control does what’ can quickly cause you to overshoot a target and land into a laser wall or an enemy right quick.  Furthermore, many of the enemies, and even some of the platforms that you use through the game, are influenced by the gravity wells in the same manner that you are.  Precision, skill, and reflexes are as much a part of this game as problem solving and situational awareness is.

Graphics and Sound

Graphically, the game is beautiful.  The backdrops are full of stars, constellations, galaxies and nebulas all adding tone to the game itself.  The foreground art is also well detailed, but doesn’t clutter up the screen with a lot of eye candy allowing you to concentrate on the job at hand.

The music is very original and adds to a feeling of solitude.  Once again, its presence isn’t so much as it takes away from the game; but just enough to add to the feel of the game.  Not much more can be said about it.

Story

While Defy Gravity is a very entertaining game with fantastic game play and graphics, the story is aggravating to me.  They give you just enough of a hint of a story at the beginning of the game to pull you in.  The opening looks promising with its highly detailed artwork and simple text overlay to give you the basic plot.  Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all they give you. 

It would have been nice to see some breaks in between levels to give you a little bit more back-story than just the little tidbit about the search for an un-named artifact from an un-named race that will bring salvation to your people from an unknown plight.  Even more so, it would have been nice to actually have been rewarded with actually finding the artifact.  Instead, you are rewarded with a series of signs stating that you won and then… credits.  Then there’s another brief little puzzle area that brings you to the final door; the final threshold!  Which brings you right back to the opening menu.

Seriously?!?!

The entire premise of the game is to get some kind of a reward in the end beyond a pat on the head.  Whether it is a high score, your name on some kind of list of random people who have beaten the game; or, in this case, finding the damned artifact!?

Overall

Despite my rant above regarding the lack of a decent story, the game is pretty good.  I greatly enjoyed the puzzles, as frustrating as they sometimes were.  However, I found it to be a very bitter pill to swallow when I got to the end and found that all of my hard work and frustration was all for naught.  My only options were to either go back to the last save point to run through the final level again and relive the disappointment from the lack of a proper ending; Or, I could start a new game altogether and run through another five to six hours of puzzles and frustration only to once again be disappointed at the lack of a proper ending.

With all of the hard work and effort that the team at Fish Factory Games took to polish such a solid game, it’s very disappointing to see it fall short of greatness.  I do hope to see another title from this group in the future, perhaps with a bit more spit and polish dedicated to the plot of their next story.

Until then, all I can say is that while I don’t feel too bad about dropping 80 Microsoft Points on this game, your money would be much better spent on a game with a similar mechanic, such as Lumi.

I give this game a 3.25/5

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