Occasionally, there comes a game which is so different that you can easily call it unique and you wouldn’t exaggerate. Gris by the Spanish developer Nomada Studio is exactly that and I’m so glad that it’s among the last titles I get to review this year. This indie platformer was published mid-December for Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Nintendo Switch and in these few days, it already garnered positive reviews.
In Gris, you don’t get the background story from the start, but rather simply know that something troubling is happening. The game begins with a blue-haired girl lying on the statue’s palm. When she wakes up, she tries to find her voice to sing and it’s in that moment that the players understand something painful happened to her. The world she moves in is her own and grey – a depiction of what she feels and her way of surviving the hardships she experienced. Girl’s name is Gris and she is on the mission to return color to the grey-laden world.
If there was ever an opportunity to say for a video game that it’s beautiful, then this is the moment to do just that. The art style fits perfectly all the emotions the game emits and paired up with the gentle background music, Gris will offer a dream-like vision to players no matter if the story is not approachable enough for some. The girl moves through the game as though she is a feather in the wind. She floats between landscapes and graciously jumps across platforms in a way that makes her look more like a fairy than simply being a sad girl. The colors are what adds depth and enhance emotions in this game. Red, green, blue and pink dominate here and show up as though a painter splashed watercolors on the screen.
But there is more to this game than just being pretty. It takes some skill to make the jumps or solve the puzzles Gris encounters in the game. The dress that our heroine is wearing is magical and gives her the ability to jump. Of course, this is something that you will be able to upgrade as the game progresses which will give Gris extra powers. Gris is a 2D game which follows the rule of Metroidvania genre and through exploration, you will find out little by little what happened to our protagonist.
Some may find the game not exciting enough since the visual aspects overrule the narrative and play mechanics. And for some, this will be a refreshing title that offers something new and different. For me, the game paints the emotions we go through when something painful happens to us. We try to move forward and bring back the color to our world. However, from the gameplay point of view, Gris could use some complexity of levels and mechanics in order to come close to some of the popular 2D platformers out there.
Gris lasts for up to four hours and although that is not a long time for a game, the lack of level development may make the play feel longer. This doesn’t suggest that the game is boring, but rather that it would benefit from the more elaborate level design. Nonetheless, Gris will give you a unique and beautiful gaming experience that will certainly leave a lasting impression.