GRIS is a 2D puzzle platformer. You play as, unknown girl. She’s super cool she has like hands and feet and stuff. Super personality too with her ummm… zero, wait… no, yeah zero lines. It’s a story about loss and dealing with it. It’s heavy on the symbolism but not exactly blatant or not blatant. And let me explain that. There are some achievements you get for finding statues as well as an extra cutscene that explains more of the story by finding mementos. If you find these things it’s fairly fucking blatant that it’s about loss and dealing with it. If you don’t find those things, well I’m not good at symbolism at all; I don’t think symbolism in this would actually tell you anything if you didn’t already know. As such if you don’t find all the stuff, it doesn’t seem as blatant, because the stuff you find is the blatant stuff.
Now generally I hate platformers, many of them feel sticky, icy, heavy, or require a fucking stupid amount of precision. So again, fuck platformers. This one however, there was weight to the character but not too much so jumps felt right, when you land you LAND it’s not a fucking slip and slide for once which is a goddamn miracle. And I don’t remember a single area that didn’t give you a mile of ground to land on so you know nuclear bomb levels close is enough, cause fuck horseshoes and grenades, well don’t really fuck them, well I guess if you want you can fuck a horseshoe… anyways, moving on. There’s also swimming mechanics later in the game which are umm well awesome honestly. You do super jumps in the game that end up feeling perfect for the game and swimming feels just like that times ten easily. It’s just fucking fantastic.
There’s two major parts of symbolism in the game, that aren’t overtly blatant. One is that, and someone pointed this out to me, that your character loses their voice. From logic I used that knowledge with the bouts of crippling depression I sometimes run into. Losing her voice took her agency, she can’t cry out, she can’t ask for help, she can speak her problems; she can’t do anything but be silent in her misery. Upon going through the game she gets abilities including eventually her voice back, each one of these abilities at least seem to be about moving forward with life, accepting the loss and finally gaining her voice back.
The other form of symbolism comes from how colors exist in the game. The world is normal, well for that world any fucking way cause it’s fucking weird. But then she feels the loss and everything becomes grey and drab and colorless exactly how the world looks when you’ve been pushed deep into extreme sadness from a loss. And all the colors that come back align with the stages of grief, which is somewhat overt if you know that’s what the colors signify. It becomes obvious if you find the statues as they are named after those stages then it’s all about just putting one and one the fuck together and it’s like OH no shit.
Now as stated the game starts off with color and goes immediately into drab greys because fuck life. However even then, at least to me, it’s still a beautiful game because it’s highly stylized. Every environment is its own place. They all feel distinct, they all work, and you transition between them really nicely. As you play the game you reintroduce color back into the world which makes it brighter and more colorful and just stunning. A big part of this is because they made things organic but still highly angular looking which is an interesting look. It’s also highly difficult to pull off because organic and angular tend to be considered opposites, usually organic is tied to roundness to curves, angular is very sharp; it’s awkward to mix the two and hard to make something feel just right. I think that’s because the game is both complex and simplistic looking. Everything is mostly made up of basic shapes, they’re almost all organic because they flutter and move but they’re still a good chunk of ovals, squares, triangles, circles, tubes that makes up everything which makes it feel sharper, or more angular, than it actually is. So it’s simplistic in that sense, however it’s a giant fucking grand tapestry of all these things pressed together. So it’s all simplistic but you still find yourself in awe a good chunk of the time, and not in the bad way.
Well so far you’ve seen me explain how good it feels, how good it looks, and the general concept of the story because you fuckers can play it if you want to know more about the story. So now we’ll move into music, it was good. There you go, you’ll notice I don’t talk about music, its cause quite frankly I don’t give a fuck about music, I had a movie on in the background while I was playing this game. I know people put a lot of effort into the music in games but I just never much cared about music, so when I mention it, it’s cause it was good, or I guess cause it was fucking horrid. But it was good in this one. This will likely become a well-loved soundtrack to many. The sounds however were fantastic in this game, from animals you hear moving, to splashes from going in and out of water, to environmental noises; and lastly to the characters voice when she gets it back. They’re great, and her little song thing is beautiful and I love it, that is something I actually really loved that bit of music the character herself makes.
Now some people stated they didn’t like the start of the game, I did, I thought it worked really well. Lots of people state the start is boring and annoying, I loved it. Now does it stack up to later levels? Fuck no. but every level gives you more abilities, brings more color to the game, and gives you more complex puzzles. At the start of the game you have the ability to run and do a basic jump, nothing else. I mean you can’t expect to have some amazing thing during a time when you have nothing and everything purposeful looks like shades of grey. Is the first level too long? Maybe, I’m not a good judge of that myself. I didn’t think it was bad myself. I was looking for collectables and admiring the environment and how it moved and worked for a good chunk of the game which means I was spending a fuckton of time in every area, so I don’t feel that the first level was too long at all, but I will admit it is the most boring part of the game. That being said, the most boring part of EVERY game is the point when you have no powers, no weapons, no fucking anything, which is usually the beginning of the game.
I only have a few real issues with the game. One the camera fucking zooms out soooooooo goddamn much, and that makes it hard to see where you are or what you’re doing sometimes, especially for blind fucks like me. Another issue is sometimes it’s hard to tell what is a middle-ground object you can interact with and what’s in the background, there is typically a tale for it, items you can jump on have a white line on top of them that’s itty bitty, and there’s also objects you can break which usually reveals birds and well you can just barely see the birds behind those objects, this doesn’t help blind fucks like me though, and when the game zooms out that just amplifies the issue. The last issue is that sometimes you blend into the the background and/or foreground elements which usually happens when the game zooms out. Sometimes the color you are is either the same as the general background or a piece of the foreground is on screen and is the same color making you disappear. Usually the foreground object is fog or mist or some shit, which makes it hard to see your character in the middle-ground and fucking of course most of the time this happens the camera zooms out and inevitably your character is the same fucking general color as the background. That makes it hard to see but add a fucking mist/fog in the foreground and you are completely FUCKED. Basically the zooming out, if there’s an issue that fucking causes it. It looks pretty but it sucks donkey dick a quarter of the time if not more. It’s like yes the level is gorgeous and I like looking at it, but I want to SEE WHAT THE FUCK I’M DOING! Thankfully while these issues pissed me off, most of them were rare, just when they happened they made me wanna punch a hole in the fucking screen. The only one that happens constantly is more of a personal issue wit the not knowing what’s in the background and what’s in the middle-ground with you and that’s cause I’m a blind shit, you guys probably won’t have any issues with that. That was everywhere for me, I just tired to break fucking everything and tried to jump on top of everything.
GRIS was developed by: Nomada Studio
$17: Of love and loss, an
untold story of beauty
A review copy was provided as a gift.
darkmikasonfire has awarded GRIS The Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval.