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Defy Gravity Review

Created by Paul Fischer, Defy Gravity is a space themed platformer with gravity manipulation at the forefront. No, it doesn't use the gravity gun from Half-Life 2; rather, you shoot out "Gravity wells". With a five dollar price tag and about 2-3 hours of gameplay, the value of Defy Gravity can only be validated by it's gameplay. Which, I'm happy to say, is pretty great. 

There is little to no story to speak of, with only about 4 sentences of story content in the game. It's pretty standard; with the fate of humanity in your hands, though thankfully, aliens are not blamed here. Defy Gravity focuses on the gameplay instead, something that some indie game enthusiasts will object to, but I don't mind. Just come for the platforming, and you'll be fine. 
Since Defy Gravity has nothing else but it's gameplay, it's a good thing that the gameplay is refreshing, new, and fun. Your main asset here is your gravity gun. It shoots out gravity wells with the left mouse button, and anti-gravity wells with the right mouse button. Gravity wells suck in all yellow and gold objects near it, as well as the player. Anti-gravity wells repel all yellow and gold objects near it, as well as the player. You can only shoot two gravity wells and two anti-gravity wells before touching the ground. You can destroy these gravity wells at any time with the Q and E  keys. Also at your disposal is the ability to double jump, and an anti-gravity shield which makes you immune to the effects of gravity wells. These abilities make you versatile, with triple jumping, pushing obstacles away, and moving quickly being the least of your options. There is a certain lack of finesse in the controls, but this is more a side effect of the concept of gravity wells, rather than any poor button placement. However, gameplay is still very fun for the majority of Defy Gravity, and it feels different enough from other platformers so that you can think up new strategies throughout the game. You can play with either the keyboard or gamepad, and each does a good job of controlling the game, although the gamepad is preferable if it's available to you. 

Defy Gravity is pretty short, clocking in at about an hour on your first playthrough. This may sound like a negative, but the game fills out that hour quite nicely, and feels like it couldn't go much longer without getting boring. The levels fall into three categories; pure platforming section, side scrolling laser section, or a section where your anti-gravity shield is constantly turned on. The first level type is classic platforming, with no time constraints, but more challenging jumps. The second level type has a constantly moving laser that forces you to move forward, and quickly. There's less challenge, but more of a time pressure. The third level type is where you can notice the control problems the most, as you have to control a platform with only your gravity wells. It feels imprecise, and this is where I had the least fun in the game. There's something about the contrast between the tight controls in the other levels and the loose nature of the anti-gravity shield levels that make the gameplay a chore in these sections. Luckily, there are only two of those levels in the game. Every other level type is a ton of fun. Also, after you beat it once, you can play through again on Hard Mode. Hard Mode removes your anti-gravity wells, makes all objects effected by gravity, and more. It is fun playing through again on this harder difficulty, as by that point you'll be quite handy with your skill set. There's only one save file, and it only autosaves, which is a downside to be sure, but autosaves are incredibly frequent. 
Something that may deter a lot of people from playing this game is the brick and mortar presentation, and not just from a technical standpoint. The art isn't really here, with the exception being the beginning story picture, which looks pretty good. Everything else in game looks like it was made with textures and sprites found on the internet. This is understandable of course, given the game's five dollar price point and it's indie status. With games like Super Meat Boy, VVVVVV, Amnesia, Limbo, and Braid out there though, the standard for indie game art design has been raised somewhat over time, and Defy Gravity ignores it. The music is not memorable, but it is fun to listen to while you're playing, and that's a plus for sure. The best part of the presentation, though, is the physics engine. Granted, it only has the task of propelling objects through shifting gravity on a 2D plane, but along with Amnesia, it shows that indie games with good physics can be made. So Defy Gravity may have generic graphics and sound design, but it's far from hurting the gameplay. 

Defy Gravity is by no means the next indie darling, but it is a fun and satisfying game at a cheap price. The presentation, challenge, and new concept may ward some away, but if you want to try out something new, and keep an open mind, there are far worse ways to spend five dollars. 


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