Game Review #106: GRIS (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewer: Chad M.
Developer: Nomada Studio
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Category: Adventure, Platformer, Action, Puzzle
Release Date: 12.13.2018
Price (at time of review): $16.99
We Now Enter Beauty
I’ve only played a few games where I’d say that it’s more about the overall experience you get rather than gameplay and normal gaming tropes. The first two that come to mind are Journey and Abzû, which are whimsical games that allow you to experience a narrative without repercussions—with the latter being available on the eShop if you want to look it up here. But, in a nutshell, they’re games that command your attention and make it about the slow unraveling of a beautiful story and experience, rather than speed-running or avoiding death at every turn. There are not a lot of options when seeking out games like these, and they are definitely ones that, though sought after, can be a very different experience for each player, as games like these are highly subjective.
The game I just played was a gem by the name of GRIS which is brought to us by a new freshman developer, Nomada Studio. However, the talent at said studio is anything but new, as it is headed by Adrián Cuevas and Roger Mendoza, who worked in the gaming industry making triple A games before coming together with artist Conrad Roset to bring their vision for GRIS to life. Nomada Studio has definitely set the bar high for themselves with this being their first effort.
51 Shades Of Grey
GRIS is pronounced “Grease” and is also French for “Grey”. That makes a lot of sense, as right from the start when the journey begins, you play a beautiful young girl who lives in a world filled with life, color, and sights all around that are only made more colorful by her powerful voice. Yet, it quickly all falls apart, as she is suddenly filled with sorrow and pain, left in the ominous-looking world of Gris (Grey). At first, her hurt is manifested in her grey dress that weighs her down, but before long, it warps and shifts to become her main asset that she will use to conquer The Gris. You will work to overcome The Gris and bring color to your world. The true story and overall narrative is subjective, as it can be interpreted many different ways. Myself, I thought when she grabbed her throat that she was a singer dealing with losing her main drive and passion in life, but as I played on, I began to feel that she was dealing with a great loss in her life, and was battling to overcome the overwhelming emotions.
Gameplay & Fun Factor
The gameplay in GRIS isn’t game-changing, nor is it nail-biting where you are on edge the entire time. This is a different platformer altogether, where you are encouraged to unravel the story like an onion, layer by layer. That isn’t to take anything away from the gameplay, as this only added to my experience, and didn’t break the continuity. Rather, this style allowed me to unfold a beautiful heartbreaking story, no matter if my fat thumb pushed too hard and had me plummeting off the side of a cliff or not.
It reminded me of a dream where I’m flying. Yes, I’m scared to crash, but when I do, I jump awake to find I’m unscathed. That’s what GRIS gave me: all the thrills with none of the broken bones and continue screens. As you play along, you’ll work to collect globes of light that you carry to certain areas to restore color to this world of grey, and use the cloak that weighs you down as a tool or sorts. You’ll notice there will be gloves that are hard to obtain, whether they’re under sealed-off places or in hard-to-reach areas. At one point, you can shapeshift your cloak into a hard square rock form to smash things and weigh you down, all tools that will help you solve puzzles and make your way to the end of the story.
I wouldn’t say the game was one that had me grinning ear-to-ear through my playthrough, but rather, had me invested in the story that was unfolding as I went along. I not only couldn’t put it down in my entire almost-7-hour play through, but was also intrigued by how a game with zero dialogue and no real narrative could be so enthralling.
Audio & Visuals
The game has a beautiful score that intertwined with the stunning visuals and story perfectly. Giving each part a fuller more robust feel that allows you to truly get lost inside GRIS. Now, visually, this game is on a different level than most, as this is, hands down, the most beautiful game I have played on my Switch in recent memory, if not the most beautiful. The quality and detail that was put into this game is something to truly marvel at.
GRIS is a profound experience that does something that you rarely see in gaming: move the conversation forward in mental health, and in the process, make a gorgeous game that is fun to play. What more could we ask for? I’d recommend having GRIS in your library, as it’s a pleasure to play.
Buy Gris from the Nintendo eShop here.
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*Review Code Provided by Indigo Pearl