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-   -   [PC] - Defy Gravity Review (http://www.evilavatar.com/forums/showthread.php?t=133892)

gzsfrk 01-14-2011 03:00 PM

[PC] - Defy Gravity Review
<table width="100%" style="padding:2px; background-color: black"><tr><td>Defy Gravity Review [PC]

Developed by: Fish Factory Games
Published by: Fish Factory Games
You pay: $5</td><td align="right"><img style="border:1px solid red;" src="http://evavhost.com/i/press/gzsfrk_head.jpg"></td></tr><tr><td>Release Date: January 9, 2011</td><td align=right>Matt 'gzsfrk' Williams</td></tr></table>

Samus Got A Gravity Gun

As I scan the gaming news sites on any given day, I’ve grown more or less numb to seeing headlines extolling the “next big” FPS or the upcoming highly anticipated sequel to a game that was a spin-off from some other series. And every now and then, it occurs to me: Thank heavens for indie developers. I shudder to think where gaming would be today if it weren’t for the innovative contributions of those individuals and small teams who take their ideas for a game and have the freedom to build them without the creativity-suffocating constraints of corporate deadlines, managerial approval processes, or being outright cancelled for not having enough “mainstream appeal”. Indeed, if it were solely up to mega-publishers such as Activision, EA, and Ubisoft, we may well have never seen such amazing titles as Braid, Machinarium, Audiosurf, Darwinia, and countless others. This week, I was able to add another title to my list of notable indie games for which I'm thankful: Defy Gravity.

Defy Gravity is by Fish Factory Games, a development team comprised of students at Tulane University. (In fact, the lead developer, Paul Fisch, is forum member Eats here on Evil Avatar, so be sure to give props to one of our own). The story is pretty sparse, but that’s honestly okay since the focus of the game is really on the platforming action. But to sum up, you play a female astronaut who has discovered an abandoned alien civilization and explores it in the hopes it can be used to save humanity. It plays as a puzzle platformer, although unlike many recent games of said genre where the platforming takes a back seat to the puzzle solving, the platforming involved in Defy Gravity is every bit as demanding as some of the most hardcore games from the NES era such as the old school Megaman or Metroid games. In fact, were it not for the fact that the game gives you unlimited lives and uses a checkpoint system, I may well not have even finished it by now to write this review.

Other than the difficulty, the feature that sets DG apart from other similar games is the female protagonist’s gravity gun. The functionality of the gun is very similar to the one from Portal, only rather than manipulating space, the one in DG--as one would expect--manipulates gravity. The gun can shoot two types of fields: gravity wells and gravity repels. The gravity wells will pull objects (including both the player and gravity-responsive items in the environment) toward them, whereas the gravity repels do just the opposite, pushing the player and other objects away.

There is a limitation to using the the gravity gun, however. Similar to the mechanism in Splosion Man, you can only fire two fields of each type during a single jump. That is to say, if you jump and then fire an attract field, cancel it, and then create another attract field that you fall or boost into, you won’t be able to fire another attract field until your characters feet either land on the ground, a floating platform, or a moving sphere. (This same is true for repel fields.) This means that you can’t just bunny hop safely from field to field throughout each level, but rather have to budget your gravity gun’s shots strategically, especially when you’re trying to work through some of the longer, more sparse traversals.

The astronaut also has at her disposal a shield which can be enabled at any time that makes her immune to gravity manipulating effects, and a jetpack which can be used to augment her basic jump, but has a 2 second recharge between uses (so you can’t just go jetpack boosting around ad infinitum). You can also cancel either type of field at any time--a feature which becomes essential in the more complicated later levels. In fact, towards the end of the game, there will be scenarios when you have to use all of these tools in order to make it across some very long and perilous jumps, balancing the need for a gravity boost against the danger of pulling lethal objects towards your fragile little explorer.

Graphically, the game is nothing special. It’s clean and serviceable, but the lack of variety in the environment and “enemies” makes the game’s visuals a bit repetitive. Of course, given the short length of the game, repetition isn’t really much of a problem; I completed it on normal difficulty in less than 2 hours (although once you beat it on Normal, you're given the option to play through all of the levels again at a higher difficulty setting). The audio likewise isn’t particularly noteworthy, but is clean and fits the mood of the game. However, those are minor quips against a game that isn’t trying to compete against the big budget, triple-A titles for your gaming attention. Rather, it’s the unique blend of gravity puzzles, old school platforming, and devilishly difficult let-me-try-that-just-one-more-time gameplay it offers that make it a worthy investment for five of your gaming dollars. It’s short, it’s sweet, and it’s oh-so-satisfying to finally pull off that last crazy jump.

Defy Gravity is currently available for the Windows PC platform. An Xbox Indie Games version is planned to be made available next month through the Xbox Live Games Marketplace. You can download a demo and purchase the full version of the PC release via the game’s homepage here.

<table width="100%" style="padding:2px"><tr><td width=33% valign=top>
  • Very unique gravity-based platforming gameplay
  • Nice gameplay mix that requires equal parts platforming skill and lateral thinking
  • Deliciously challenging
</td><td width=33% valign=top>
  • The visuals are nothing special; a bit simplistic and repetitive
  • It’s short
</td><td width=33% valign=top>
  • You’re going to swear. A lot.

gzsfrk 01-14-2011 03:01 PM

lockwoodx 01-14-2011 03:45 PM

A picture of a woman with her hand on her clevage about to unzip her suit to the cation of "Defy gravity" leads me to believe the game is about how her nipples always point upwards.

lockwoodx 01-14-2011 03:46 PM

cation = caption. hard to type with a band-aid on.

Agnostic Pope 01-14-2011 03:49 PM

Whatever I still want a TRUE ZERO suit Samus. :P Does this game...eh nevermind.

sixtyfps 01-14-2011 04:04 PM

That cover art is embarrassingly tawdry.


(maybe they'll put a cloud in front of it someday?) :D

Eats 01-14-2011 04:15 PM


Originally Posted by sixtyfps (Post 1967593)
That cover art is embarrassingly tawdry.


(maybe they'll put a cloud in front of it someday?) :D

Yeah it is. We got an artist I found over the internet to do it and I requested it to be the girl putting her suit on, like getting ready to go out and shoot gravity at things. What I envisioned was her putting on her boots or her helmet, but what I got was a picture that looks more like her about to get naked for you than anything else.....you kinda have to work with what you're given though when you have next to no budget.

That said I've seen much worse on game covers than this.

Rommel 01-14-2011 04:24 PM

Lordkat reference

Anenome 01-14-2011 04:46 PM


you play a female astronaut who has discovered an abandoned alien civilization and explores it in the hopes it can be used to save humanity.
I like the premise.

Reminds me of the gameplay concept behind Portal almost.

Best of luck, Eats!

Anenome 01-14-2011 04:47 PM

Not the premise. I mean the gameplay itself, with gravity push and pull, reminds me of the dualism of the portal-gun.

gzsfrk 01-14-2011 05:34 PM


Originally Posted by Rommel (Post 1967600)
Lordkat reference

A sharp one, you are. :)

modeps 01-15-2011 06:00 AM

Any plans to make it available through Steam or other digital distribution service? Would the gameplay lend itself to iPhone?

gzsfrk 01-15-2011 10:27 AM


Originally Posted by modeps (Post 1967710)
Any plans to make it available through Steam or other digital distribution service? Would the gameplay lend itself to iPhone?

They ought to--the controls should work great with a multi-touch device, and the graphics don't require that much horsepower to pull off.

Eats 01-15-2011 02:34 PM

We are looking at putting the game up on portals like steam, impulse, etc.

We can't easily port it to iphone or mac unfortunately. We would essentially have to remake the entire game to do it. Because of this we are investigating moving away from XNA and over to Unity for our next title.

lost 01-15-2011 05:24 PM

XNA needs some decent middle-ware. There's way too much grunt work to do.

Eats 01-15-2011 05:52 PM

Yeah I agree.

I used dpsf for particle effects, but even with that I was still doing math modeling of the effects and writing them myself, it just made it easier(still very time consuming).

I also used some middleware to handle the absurdly complicated saving and loading system on the xbox.

Everything else I just had to roll by hand.

Anenome 01-15-2011 06:49 PM

So you're a dev team of one? >_>

Eats 01-15-2011 07:50 PM

I made about 90% of this game. I did pretty much all the game design, programming, and some of the art. All the art I did is not the best except I think the particle effects are pretty nice. So I didn't make the main sprite, the guns, or the backgrounds/splash screens. The backgrounds I found on deviant art and got permission to use/alter. The sprites I had custom made.

I'm pretty satisfied with the game/gameplay. I really just set out to make a game with fun and original gameplay, and I feel that I achieved that. Moving forward on our next title I hope to combine good game design with good art, so hopefully I can find some artists to work with.

I've found myself really inspired by this lately:

So I may try to make something with a flowing style like that.

Eats 01-15-2011 08:29 PM

Why isn't this on the in-house content thing at the top of the site :(

Anenome 01-15-2011 08:47 PM


Originally Posted by Eats (Post 1967855)
Why isn't this on the in-house content thing at the top of the site :(

Whatcha mean? It's in the:

Evil Avatar > Daily Gaming News > In-House Content > [PC] - Defy Gravity Review


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