Review: Gravity Oddity
This game will turn you on your head.
A Refreshing Rogue-lite Space Adventure
Get ready to embark on a one-man rescue mission across the galaxy to bring back your kidnapped roommate in a rogue-like space action adventure that revolves around one determined teammate and two cute, cuddly robots. This game is brought to you by the indie developer Invincible Cat in their sophomore offering.
Over the last few years, the rogue-lite category of games has exploded in popularity. With so many titles available, it's hard to stand out from the rest. Gravity Oddity does an excellent job of distinguishing itself with fresh high-definition graphics and a unique movement system that focuses on zero-gravity combat, featuring a unique teleport gun, gravity boots, and a jetpack. You’ll travel through multiple levels of ships and space systems, battling hundreds of turrets, robots, laser saw blades, and floor traps on random procedurally generated levels with various enemies.
How Do You Fight in Space?
If you've ever watched a space movie involving combat, you understand that fighting in zero gravity can be challenging. You must think in a 360-degree environment. In Oddity, you will find unique aspects of walking on roofs and walls with your gravity boots, jumping, propelling yourself with a jetpack, and latching onto a wall, floor, or ceiling with your teleport gun. All while blasting away at multiple enemies and avoiding laser beams. A unique mod system allows you to upgrade weapons and abilities throughout the levels, giving you multiple effects to survive the onslaught from the ruthless Rio Grande Corp, the mysterious agitator responsible for kidnapping your friend Gary.
As you progress through different systems and defeat bosses, the enemies multiply, and levels become infinitely harder to beat. This refreshing challenge makes you master the combat system and feel like victory is well-earned, reminiscent of many games from my childhood where permadeath was common, and saves were only available after beating the boss.
If there’s a downside to the game, it’s that getting used to the combat system will take time, which may lead to frustration. However, you can transport to previously completed levels once you respawn from the starting point. I played the PC version on mouse and keyboard. I briefly tried playing with my Xbox-style controller, but the thumb coordination made the quick-paced combat even more difficult, so I went back to my trusty clicky clack.
There is some reprieve, though, as you can select features like an unbreakable shield, reduced damage, or an unlimited jetpack. This can alleviate some of the early game frustration of getting to know the combat and movement system and then removing them later as you become more lethal.
Many rogue-lite games that I’ve played go for a retro 8- or 16-bit feel. However, the textures and environments in Oddity are exquisite in their design, simple but complex with a space-industrial neon-noir ambiance. It’s clear that a lot of time and effort from the developer went into creating a certain “vibe” that permeates the game.
The music also plays a significant role throughout the game. Starting with a melodic lo-fi electronic beat as you travel among asteroids and ships, then rapidly transitions into a fast-paced neo-rock as your enemies sling laser bolts at you. These little details make the game more enjoyable and replayable, clearly demonstrating that the developers understand excellent game design.
In a year where much of the conversation revolves around a handful of AAA releases and console wars, it’s refreshing to play something that has a lot of heart and soul put into it. Gravity Oddity isn’t a copy/paste 2D rogue-lite like many other entries in the Steam store, where it feels like you’re playing the same game with a different title. Its unique combat concept, paired with an old-school difficulty feel, beautifully crafted environments, and a solid soundtrack, make Gravity Oddity a must-have addition to your library for any indie game or rogue-lite enthusiast.
I would also recommend keeping an eye on any other offerings from Invincible Cat, as it seems they have a bright future ahead of them. They demonstrate an eye for balance in all of the game mechanics, evident even in only their second release on Steam.
As of the publication of this article, Gravity Oddity is fully released and available on PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and Switch.