DescriptionAs with Jason Rohrer's previous game Passage, Gravitation is an autobiographical game and it has a similar visual style. No explanation of the goal or the game mechanics is given and just like Rob Humble's art games a large part of the appeal is in discovering the gameplay. As such, the rest of the description below can be considered a spoiler and should not be read before first playing the game.
Gravitation is played as a metaphor of how the protagonist's moods and creative endeavors affect his family and vice versa. The player controls a bitmapped character in an environment that can only be explored vertically. The only other character is a small boy, Rohrer's son Mez. A single gameplay session consists of eight minutes with a clock counting down the seconds. By climbing platforms, the player collects blue stars (prizes) that drop down to the lowest level. As soon as they hit the ground, a number appears on them, counting down from nine to one. To collect the points, the blocks need to be pushed into a fireplace, but if the player stacks too many before coming back down, it becomes hard to move them around. Collecting the stars is not a goal by itself, the player can choose to play with Mez all the time and not achieve anything else, or go for the stars with the chance of having Mez disappear.
Mez is on the lowest level and he throws a ball the protagonist can return. This clears up the sky (and the character's mind) and allows the main character to jump and reach higher areas. At the same time, the frame size grows. When staying up the higher levels too long, Mez will disappear, leaving behind the red ball, most likely as an affirmation of the player's greed or neglect. It is not possible to collect all stars at once, grab all of them, or reach the top of the level. After a while, the frame size shrinks again, the environment turns cold and the main character can barely jump. This can be restored by returning to the lowest level, pushing stars into the fire or by playing with Mez. The entire sky also clears up when flames come out of the player's head, possibly referring to a manic or mad state, providing a short burst of motivation before eventually returning to depression.
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Related Web Sites
- Gravitation (Download the game, free of charge.)
- Weird Artistic Timewaster of the Day: Gravitation (A thread on Kotaku offering some player experiences and insight in the gameplay.)