Steam Greenlight Spotlight: Gravi
Gravi is a puzzle platformer that will put your brain and reflexes to the test – and test your patience. You control the titular character Gravi, an alien blue ball of energy. The object of the game is to escape a "trap-filled underbelly of an alien test facility." At your disposal is the ability to bend gravity at will, but in a way that sets Gravi apart from other gravity-bending platformers. By pressing the left mouse button, you shoot off a part of your blue energy, which then pulls you toward it within its sphere of influence. The game's option menu refers to this as "Mitosis", implying that you're actually splitting off a part of yourself. You can also press the right mouse button to shoot off up to five smaller orbs, reducing your size to pass through small openings, while you can press Space Bar to recall the orb.
While the game mechanics seem simple on the surface, passing each level often takes precise timing and quick reflexes. After playing the ten-level public beta, I have come to the conclusion that Developer Hashbang Games seems to have placed (numerous) traps in the perfect spots to induce massive levels of frustration. In fact, you can see my stats in one level where I started to question whether I was a glutton for punishment (photo has been resized, so is not indicative of graphics quality or text readability):
Yes, you read that correctly – I suffered 41 deaths on Level 5! Now granted, a large majority of those deaths came as a direct result of me trying to attain the "Collectable" on that level, but I'm sure I'm not the only one that would attempt such a thing. I should also mention that the controls are ultra-sensitive. Pushing A (Left) or D (Right), causes you to move quite a lot. When you're trying to abruptly park yourself in the middle of two traps, precise control can be the difference between life and death. Another quirky control issue is that Gravi occasionally orbits the orb before absorbing it, which can throw you off your path and cause your next shot to not go where you expected it. These are minor issues, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention them. Levels do feature checkpoints – usually multiple ones and often after particularly tough sections – so at least you don't have to replay whole levels over and over again.
While I died a lot during my play session, I did wind up beating all ten levels in about 30 minutes, including acquiring all collectables. With the final game featuring just 40 levels, this has me a bit worried that, while it will surely be an enjoyable (and frustrating) experience, it may very well be quite a short one. Obviously I'd expect subsequent levels to be even harder and take more time, but it's still something to consider. Along the way, there are also four boss encounters with Gravi's nemesis, Anti-Gravi. Anti-Gravi is a red ball of energy that Hashbang says "has been infused with a Reaction AI system." The final level of the demo features one of the boss battles, and it was rather refreshing compared to typical boss battles in platformers – just like the rest of the game, it's more about solving a trap-filled puzzle using your gravity-throwing skills.
Gravi's graphics are quite good and I really like the farther-than-usual perspective, as it allows you to see hazards far into the distance. While the game is predominantly grey, there is just the right amount of color splashed here and there. It works quite well in distinguishing key features in a level. Curiously, the highest resolution I could select was 1600x900, though that was perfect for windowed mode, so not a huge problem. If you like puzzle platformers, I certainly suggest you download the public beta demo and definitely vote Yes on Greenlight! Gravi will be available for PC, Mac, and Linux!