Gris
Gameplay 9
Graphics 9
Sound 9

Gris is a beautiful platform adventure with wonderful level designs and interesting puzzles. It is a very serene experience, though, as there is no threat of death or fear of danger. Some players will enjoy this casual experience as they explore the world and engage in light puzzle solving, but others might find it a little too easy and boring.

Gameplay: The game is very easy, but exploring the environments is enjoyable.

Graphics: Gris features a beautiful art style and great animations.

Sound: The audio consists of an incredible soundtrack and great sound effects

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Gris

Developer: Nomada Studio | Publisher: Devolver Digital | Release Date: 2018 | Genre: Platformer / Puzzle / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

It is ironic that as technology improved and 2D platformers mostly got left behind in the 16-bit era, some of the most emotional and beautiful games of all time emerged after the genre’s resurrection at the hands of indie developers. Gris, by Nomada Studio, is without a doubt one of these games, even though its protagonist never utters a word.

In Gris, players take control of a young girl who clearly experienced something painful in her life. The game opens with Gris losing her voice and plummeting to the ground as the statue holding her crumbles. It is a rather bleak opening, and at first, it looks like the game will just be an arty walking simulator as Gris slowly and dejectedly plods forward. However, the world soon begins to open up, and the bleak landscape makes way for more colorful and elaborate surroundings. It never becomes too challenging or complicated, but there is a definite sense of being on a journey where the character is growing and facing her inner demons.

Although Gris is a platformer, it is devoid of the enemies and pitfalls that define the genre. Gris will encounter an interesting assortment of wildlife during her adventure, but none of them are hostile. There are a few “boss” encounters, but even these are resolved without violence or any threat of injury. Some players might find this lack of fail states boring, but it makes for a more relaxing experience where the focus is the journey rather than the obstacles. In addition to some platform jumping, the game also features a couple of casual puzzles. As with the rest of the game, players can take their time without harsh penalties for doing something wrong.

Your primary goal in Gris is to explore your surroundings and discover the sparkling orbs required to create bridges to new areas. The levels sometimes branch off in different directions, but this is not a Metroidvania, so there is no need for a map. Gris has some new abilities to discover along the way, but these help with the path ahead instead of forcing players to backtrack to previously inaccessible areas. In a unique twist, the abilities are all tied to your dress, which can turn heavy for smashing through cracked floors or light for double jumping and floating.

It is usually self-evident what ability has to be used where, so players won’t get lost or struggle to figure out what to do next. There are some optional mementos to collect for players who enjoy going the extra mile, but some of these are actually tricky to find. It is worth the effort, though, as finding everything provides additional backstory for Gris. The game allows players to return to previous levels upon completion, so we recommend leaving the achievement hunting for afterward and enjoying the journey first. The game only takes about four hours to complete, but we enjoyed every minute.

Gris is an exceptional-looking game thanks to the art style, which makes it look like watercolor illustrations come to life. Since players don’t have to worry about lives, health, or an inventory, there is no HUD to obscure the beautiful visuals. Each area in the game is also tied to a specific color scheme, so the desert with its fierce sandstorms is red, the forest area is green, and the underwater caverns are blue. It might sound like the typical cliched platformer levels, but the regions of Gris look unlike anything else. We are not exaggerating when we say it’s impossible to take a lousy screenshot in this game and that every screen would look as beautiful as a desktop wallpaper. The game takes full advantage of this with a camera that zooms out to show how small you are compared to some parts of the world or zooms in for emotional moments. The animations are just as neat, from the graceful way Gris runs and jumps to the shy critters that inhabit some of the levels. The only downside to the lovely graphics is that it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between things in the foreground and background. For example, we were stuck for a bit in the underground caverns because we didn’t realize that Gris could swim behind some pillars that looked like obstacles.

Even with the incredible visuals, Gris wouldn’t have been the same without an equally moving soundtrack, so thankfully, it doesn’t disappoint in this regard. The music is unobtrusive for the most part, but it knows when to soar as something jaw-dropping happens onscreen. For example, the music on the desert level builds into a crescendo as the wind picks up and then reverts as the storm peters out. The sound effects received just as much attention, and during quiet moments, players can hear the sound of Gris’s footsteps or how the sound of rain becomes muffled as she dives underwater. Despite the lack of dialog in the game or even subtitles, the audio perfectly conveys the tone of each area. We played Gris using a controller and found everything responsive and intuitive. Because the protagonist can’t die from falls and no enemies are in the game, even casual players shouldn’t have an issue playing. Later areas require more coordination as they involve leaping and gliding between areas that are mirror images of each other. Still, even these can be conquered easily with some practice.

As much as we’ve enjoyed Gris, we would understand if some players found the game boring. The visuals and audio are breathtaking, but the lack of challenge will lessen the experience for many. It is also a short game, especially for players with no interest in pursuing the achievements. Nevertheless, Gris is one of those games where we frequently stopped to admire the environments and looked forward to seeing each new area. Although the game is built around themes of loss and grief, it is also gratifying to bring color back to a shattered world. Players who enjoy platform games purely for the challenge will appreciate something like the Ori series more, but fans of titles like Journey should not miss out on Gris.

System Requirements

    • OS: Windows 7 or later
    • Processor: Intel Core2 Duo E6750 (2 * 2660) or equivalent / AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 5000+ (2 * 2600) or equivalent
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Geforce GT 430 (1024 MB) / Radeon HD 5570 (1024 MB)
    • Storage: 4 GB available space
    • OS: Mac OS X 10.11 (El Capitan) or later
    • Processor: Intel Core i5-4570 (4 * 3200)
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: GeForce GT 755M
    • Storage: 4 GB available space

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