A long time ago in a galaxy far far away I spent my pocket money on a wonderful inertia controlled game called Thrust by Firebird. Thrust was a joy of physics, drop your spaceship into impossible caves, and using the thrusters manoeuvre safely through the 2d monochrome passages. The aim was to go and collect some kind of fuel cell and then fly safely out again against a ticking clock. You can tell I loved it.
Fast forward 20 odd years and here we are with Gravity Crash from Just Add Water, which apart from the lack of a pendulum swinging fuel cell being attached to my ship is essentially Thrust 2.0 with a twist.
Employing a sexy neon wireframe style Gravity Crash is 2d gaming for the Geometry Wars crowd, bright, vibrant and more fireworks than November 5th add those ingredients to the pumping techno soundtrack and you have a great combination.
Control wise the game has two options, a classic mode for rotate and thrust which suits old schoolers like myself. Or a dual stick mode which could be good with practice, but I know I will stick with the familiar system. There is also the choice of a back-up special weapon, all very pretty even and different enough to be useful in certain situations.
The knack of game like this is mastering the controls, there are moments of joy where you swoop into a cave flip 360 degrees, blast a turret off the roof and drift right onto the crystal you need. There are also gut wrenching moments, where for some unknown reason you just flip out and drive straight into the wall.
There is some sci-fi hokum reason for your underground adventure, but it all boils down to surviving the caves and the threats that abound in those caves. The game is broken down into a series of levels across three galaxies, in the campaign mode you can attempt planets as they unlock and each of those planets will have a set of both primary and secondary objectives. Most often to collect a set amount of crystals or destroy x number of enemy buildings, alongside those objectives there are plenty of optional requirements to choose from, rescuing stranded crewmen (remember : green = good, red = bad) to finding secret rooms and completing the secret relic that is scattered through each galaxy.
There is plenty to do and most often the best route is pretty obvious thanks to the on screen mini-map, even secret areas show up so blast away at cracked walls if you really want that power up.
Yes, power ups – something Thrust never had. Drift near a power up and it will be applied to your craft, they come in a standard array of multi directional fire or spread fire and interestingly they come with a set amount of ammunition, but no control over when to use them. If well used and strategically placed a power up can make a huge difference to clearing a particularly tricky cave.
There is some variety in the surroundings and enemies and turrets, there are also some pretty lethal environmental effects on offers too. Meteor showers, volcanoes and lava flows hurt your ship funnily enough, on the safe side on environmental effect I was impressed by was the addition of flooded caves. Plunging your ship into water completely reverses the inertia effects and instead of gently trying to keep the ship safely in the air you are aggressively forcing it through the water. This burns fuel at an alarming rate so be on the lookout for fuel crystals that can be destroyed for a quick and easy top up.
Overall it’s a great take on a classic genre, there is enough new stuff to make it interesting – although having seen recent clips of Pixel Junk Shooter that game is in the same ball park with some very fresh ideas and application. So it might be worth having a second think to decide on one or both. As far as value for money goes, I will give Gravity Crash a thumbs up, there are three variants of local multi-player and single replays of planets available to challenge the leaderboards.
It’s a game I will go back to and tinker with over a period of time, and I’m happy with that.