If there were ever a game to make the argument that video games are art, GRIS is it. Every second of every scene is worthy of not only a screenshot but its own art installation. Thankfully, it’s not just a phenomenally beautiful game, Gris is also an exceptionally good game.
You play as the titular Gris, who has lost her voice. In a striking, fanciful fantasy world of giant statues, glass buildings, and cube-headed creatures, it’s up to you to help Gris to find her voice and escape from her depression and personal trauma. While it is unclear what the trauma is, it is brilliantly left up to your own imagination to fill in any of the blanks. It’s an emotional journey, helped to no end by its awe inspiring visuals and magical soundtrack.
Gris Review – Short But Oh So Sweet
It has relatively simple gameplay with little challenge, but it doesn’t matter. Gris is a light platformer that has you traversing its magnificently designed landscapes, navigating platforms, water, and slippery slopes. Gris‘ lightness is reflected in its length, as it tops off at around three hours but its presentation and charm will stick with you long after the credits roll. It’s perfect for unwinding after a big AAA game.
In the beginning, Gris can barely walk in the monochrome world, but by the end of the game, she glides with a ballerina-esque graceful zip. The development in her strength is fun to play a part in; watching Gris develop from a slow, unsure character into one full of fluid movement grace is a sight to behold. It feels like you are in control of something straight out of the minds at Studio Ghibli or Cartoon Saloon (the Irish film studio behind Song of the Sea and The Secret of Kells). It’s breathtaking throughout, given the beauty of its presentation.
Gris Review – Scary Birds Scaring Kids
Each level has you recovering some of the world’s color along with some of Gris’ voice and strength. To do this, you’ll need to find small white stars scattered throughout the game’s world. Thankfully, these are easy to discover, hidden behind simple movement and timing based puzzles, but will leave you with a solid feeling of satisfaction. The puzzle design is intuitive because of how it intelligently guides the player from point to point without talking down to them. Its platforming also has a few different tricks of up its sleeve and the variety helps keep the game fresh over its admittedly short runtime.
Gris doesn’t hold your hand through these segments, but it introduces each aspect of its gameplay in a natural, easy-to-digest manner. It’s gloriously intuitive stuff, helped out by the slick movement the latter stages of the game presents. And it also helps that you can’t die. While many modern games seem to be thinking of new ways of making deaths more interesting, Gris does away with it entirely.
The giant bird, for example, is mightily impressive in its fluid animation and scale, and teaches you to make use of the skills you have already learned up to that point. That spike of intensity in the soundtrack ramps up the tension, but you simply need to remain calm. The giant bird won’t kill you. Instead, it helps you on your journey to get past the game’s obstacles.
Gris Review – Why Not Spend Some Time to Relax?
Alongside the giant screaming bird, without wanting to spoil too much, there is another set piece in the game that has you facing great adversity. As you learned from the bird, however, there isn’t much to be afraid of. Both of these intense moments are as powerful and impressive as each other, despite the lack of challenge from the absence of death. The way the game dials up the light soundtrack into something dangerous, loud, and imposing is just as beautiful as the graphics on the screen. Despite the loud moments, however, the calm and serene beauty of Gris is what will stick with you.
You’ll spend a lot of time in Gris running across bridges, dancing through forests filled with intriguing life, and sitting in the crumbling hands of giant statues of women. There is never a moment in Gris that you won’t want to stop and gawk at, jaw agape. It’s a stunning piece of art thanks to its bright color palette and consistently beautiful vistas.
You won’t be able to take your eyes off the game, and thanks also to the solid gameplay the slick movement and intuitive design Gris affords, I picked up the controller and didn’t put it down until the game was finished. Gris had me, hook line and sinker, right up until its tear-jerking final moments.
Gris Review – Not Quite All the Colors of the Rainbow
Unfortunately, there isn’t much to bring you back to Gris aside from its beautiful visuals and excellent soundtrack. While I had a lot of fun with the slick gameplay and relaxing puzzles, there isn’t any real replay value here. Other than finding the stars, there isn’t too much more to do. There are some hidden statues and bonus stars to find, but it isn’t much. Aside from earning achievements, too, there isn’t too much point in finding the small number of hidden items, unfortunately.
But despite its lack of replay value, Gris is a mesmerizing puzzle platformer. You won’t want the experience to end, but when it does, it will stick in your head due to its poignant atmosphere and incredible visuals. It’s just a shame that it only lasted around three hours. The game’s beauty and quality make it easy to not want it to end.
Gris was reviewed on PC via a digital code provided by the publisher.