TITLE: Gris (Nintendo Switch, macOS and Microsoft Windows)
DEVELOPER: Nomada Studio
RELEASED: December 13, 2018
MY RATING: 5/5
As you’ve probably gathered by now, I really love playing video games, of almost any type. Really, I can as easily immerse into a pixel style farming simulation game as into a gorgeous open world RPG. I’ve played at least 5 games from each genre available today, but a type of game I love the most is best described as artistic, atmospheric and indie. I love pretty graphics because it matters to me a lot, and because it’s my job, but also because when you see something like that, you can really feel the imagination and effort that went into creating something unique. That’s also the reason I love indie games, because they’re made by someone who put years of sweat and blood into something, without any financial help, not to grab tons of cash, but to make a vision come to life. And that’s what Gris is.
Gris starts out as a simple platformer, maybe even a little bit bland. You can run, jump, and pick up some tiny orbs. Then you realize what orbs are for, and that’s another original aspect of these game, because orbs are actually stars and with them you can make small constellations which will help you move into unreachable areas.
Then a storm comes. With a haunting organ soundtrack which intensifies along with the storm, and to fight back against losing your footing and being blown away, you have to use your first power, which is solidifying into a square. That sounds gross but it’s actually achieved with the cloak of the beautiful protagonist lady with blue hair. I think her name is Gris, at least I call her that. With her hair and cloak and gracious movements, she’s fluid in contrast to the bulky, geometric surroundings. So to fight against the scenery, you have to become like it, I found that amazing.
As I said, the game starts bland, in white, beige and grey colors. Actually, the game’s name Gris means grey in Spanish, where the team who made it is from. Other than colors, the scenery is lifeless, rocky and sharp and in ruins, but as you advance through the game and collect orbs, you start to introduce new colors, and life itself into the world. Also, at the beginning, Gris is voiceless, but as you advance the chapters you’ll get the ability to sing and grow life with your voice.
Once you look closer, you’ll find that there’s a deeper meaning to this game, it’s not just pretty pictures and nice music. Gris is actually a beautiful metaphor, which you can interpret in any way you want I guess, but I saw it as fighting your demons, specifically mental illness, since that’s relatable to me. At first, Gris is voiceless and weak, everything around her is sullen and uninviting, which is the state of mind and body I often found myself in. She can barely walk, and when the storm hits she’s blown away and it seems like she’s hit the bottom, but then she finds strength, and turns into a rock and braves the storm – which she later learns to use to her own devices. Other than storms, she faces some dark, malevolent birds, which are also fluid. I saw them as her fears, burdens and pain, and they chase her and hurt her.
There are a lot of metaphors in Gris which can be interpreted as duality: fluid and solid, dark and light, silence and sound, black and white. Gris shows us there are always two sides to everything, and if you find yourself in your darkest hour, the ray of light can’t be too far away. I loved this aspect as not many video games tackle it.
Overall, Gris checks all the boxes for me: beautiful art, haunting music, easy gameplay, smart and unique puzzles. I don’t need a concise story to enjoy a game, so if you like something abstract and metaphorical, something beautiful, then this is the game for you.