Sadly I’m unable to ethically review Gravitators. I started playing a year ago when it was in beta. I put in more than fifty hours of testing and offered notes copious enough that I wound up with a special thanks in the credits. It’s too bad this can’t be a review, though, because it would be an absurdly positive one.
Possibly the best and obviously the most feature-ric, spaceship-based twin stick shooter ever made, Gravitators puts players in the cockpit of four different ships as they act as Earth’s last line of defense against an invading alien threat.
I almost can’t decide where to start when talking about everything the game does right.
The sheer amount of content it offers is staggering. There are 60 missions with a surprisingly large number of objectives. From racing experimental super-ships through asteroid fields to battling giant computers, to leading a huge space worm through the heart of an asteroid, the developers have found a way to make five dozen missions each feel unique and special in their own way. They find any number of complications to add to every encounter in order to make them varied, and the result is an experience that never stops surprising its player.
Many of these complications come in the form of the titular gravity effects. As missions move from Earth to space, and from asteroids to alien worlds, the player will constantly have to relearn how to fly their ships. In addition to shooting enemies, players spend huge amounts of time carrying items around with a winch which serves as a constant visual reminder of the grav effects. ‘There’s no UP in space’ is a defining principle of the level design as gravitational forces can pull the player’s ship in any direction at any moment, and it always leads to satisfying challenges.
Each of the four ships in Gravitators plays completely differently, with different attack ranges, shield types, movement speed, and more. The differences are significant enough that when I went back and played different levels with different ships, I’d have to completely rethink my tactics –I often found that the developers had built in different ways to bypass obstacles based on the ship being flown.
Getting the hang of each ship’s handling is vital because Gravitators is packed with complex tunnel levels that the player has to carefully navigate, and each one is an absolute feat of design and tuning, not to mention that many levels transform themselves as they’re being played — destroy a base’s reactor and the trip out will be very different than the one the player took in.
Graviatators has 60 unique levels, four ships, countless enemy types, and a dozen challenges per level with a different perk or equippable item to unlock on each and every stage — it literally has no competition in the realm of arcade-style space shooters when it comes to potential playtime thanks to a wealth of features, mechanics, and design innovations.
This isn’t a review of Gravitators, and that’s too bad, because this is a 10/10 kind of game.