Barcelona based developer Nomada Studio has released their first video game, Gris in 2018 on Nintendo Switch and PC. This interactive piece of art was well received and will be launched on Playstation 4 today. There’s no greater excuse to replay this beautiful adventure game.
Immediately upon seeing a few screenshots or a trailer it is striking how exceptionally beautiful GRIS is. The game manages to uphold the quality of this style from start to finish, without forgetting that it’s also a game instead of just moving art. In GRIS you play as a young woman who is doing her utmost best to give a painful experience a place in her life. By discovering the game world, she learns new skills and new ways to see her environment. This creates new paths that ultimately lead her (and you) to her final goal.
GRIS takes you to high peaks and deep valleys. Sometimes you sink so deep that you don’t know how you will ever get out of it again. Later you fly so high that the universe is at your feet. The game paints a light, magical world in which it is a pleasure to walk around and discover secrets. Yet darkness is always lurking. The goal is to collect luminous balls in the world. If you bring it back to a temple, the balls turn into stars and a bridge appears over which you can continue.
With the risk of repeating: GRIS is beautiful, the world is beautiful, the animations are fluid and smooth. Playing GRIS is like seeing beautiful drawings come to life. Chances are that from the opening scene to the credits, which you reach after three to four hours, you just stare at the screen and briefly forget everything around you.
Yet the game is not only beautiful to watch. GRIS also does smart things with the themes in this world, such as wind, water and light, in combination with the platform elements. Such as objects that only exist when light shines on them, floating water platforms between which you dive and gusts of wind that push you further. Some sources of inspiration for the game are immediately clear. Gris feels like something entirely fresh that is aware when it winks at examples like Journey and Child of Light.
A smooth and relaxing journey
To progress further in GRIS you develop new skills that, as it were, stick to your dress. The first force seems to fall out of tune with the subtlety of the rest of the game: suddenly you can turn into a heavy, square block. Such a block dress is useful to defend you against the wind, or to destroy pieces of stone. Later you develop more powers, for example to do a double jump or to swim freely in the water.
The game takes you on a smooth, relaxing journey. The game will never be difficult, although you have to stare at a puzzle here and there until you see the solution. The forces offer variety, so that the adventure never fails. Even the smartest pieces of gameplay are not endlessly repeated, but receive just enough attention to stay fun. It does sometimes feel strange when the game takes control of you in the service of the story.
This story is quite thin by the way. Without words the game tells about dealing with loss, although it remains ambiguous as to what exactly is being told. The power of GRIS is in its pure beauty. The drawing style, animations, the use of color, the music and the smart gameplay; everything is right and you constantly encounter surprises everywhere. The only nasty surprise is that GRIS will eventually end.
Beautiful drawings come to life in this unique platformer that never bores. GRIS is visually and musically one of the strongest indie games back in 2018 as well as now with the rerelease on Playstation 4. Although the game never becomes challenging, it still knows how to touch you through a strong interaction between art, music and interactivity. Encased in a story about sadness, struggle and acceptance, GRIS is an experience that you will not soon forget.