In a world that can sometimes only be seen through a monochrome lens, GRIS provides an abundance of everlasting colour to reinvigorate our world.
Ah… I am in such a tranquil state at heart but my mind is teeming with so many different things to say and so many ways in which I could say them that I fear I could waffle on for a lifetime (and trust me I may so forgive me, okay?). Such is the sentiment and passion that GRIS has imbued in me. Honestly, I just have so much raw emotion after this experience that I want to discuss it all in great depth, but I digress, I’ll package this all up for you as best as I can without spoiling too much!
GRIS has been on my radar since its initial release back in December 2018 where I knew at first glance that this was a game made for me; alas, life has always found a way to distract me from getting round to making that final purchase.
The title character, GRIS, is a young girl who is suffering from a painful experience in her life. Though what this may be will be hinted at throughout her journey, it can also be open for your own interpretation as you journey with her. In the palm of a hand, she is found to us singing a solemn and elegant melody that encompasses sorrow until eventually her voice cracks, with the hand, her support also fragmenting and collapsing, steadily plunging her into the monochrome world below. Slowly finding the strength to stand, a dispirited GRIS must push forward and piece herself (her state of mind) back together.
Thus, the emotional roller-coaster begins!
GRIS is a platform-adventure and is a relatively simple game but by no means does that make it easy. GRIS is thought-provoking, not to mention emotionally complex, with puzzles throughout that will get your brain thinking too. That being said, there are no bosses or possibilities of death, however, there are some dramatic cut-scene events that bestowed me with moments of awe and suspense, some of which even made me jump, gasp and cry.
GRIS is a stunning, magical little masterpiece that unravels gracefully through an interactive adventure which in its own right is more than worthy of being called a sublime short feature film. In total, you will be looking at a few hours of an enrapturing experience
It is always hard to select a few images for a review that really captures the essence of the game. Well, Nomada Studio certainly made my life difficult here, having taken around 200 screenshots upon conclusion. It truly is an artistic masterpiece from start to finish, with so many intricate details that make up the many lush landscapes with great depth and scale. Aside from making use of foreground and background layers that sweep past as you traverse, the first thing that made me pause and take a moment was climbing a leaning tower, which as I climbed GRIS became smaller, and smaller whilst retaining so much detail. Even the monochrome illustrations were just so full of life. Of course, this was not the last, as I often paused to gaze at this ethereal world.
So, you may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned any colour. Well, colour plays a very vital role in our journey with GRIS and is one of the many things that make this game so unique. The world surrounding us as I mentioned before is very much black and white, representing our forlorn character. As our journey progresses, obstacles are overcome and as GRIS grows emotionally stronger, things are seen in a new light and colour is slowly introduced back into the world with a watercolour style which I just adore, revealing a truly captivating world. With an emphasis on story, there are only a few simple mechanics which can be used in multiple ways depending on your situation and puzzle-solving. I reviewed the iOS port of GRIS and, for those of you like me who may not be used to mobile gaming, the controls took a bit of getting used to. Holding the left side of the screen controls movement with a minimalistic outline of a control stick whilst tapping or holding the right side swiping up or down is your typical action button, both of which do not visually impact the gorgeous artwork.
As you grow stronger, new abilities will be granted that will help you progress a stage further, allowing you to turn your dress into a heavy square, soar and glide through the air and even swim in the darkest depths. Mastering the control of these may at times be a little frustrating when you just miss a ledge, however, overcoming these obstacles is a great achievement both physically and mentally, especially when it comes to fighting against gales, yourself or having your world turned upside down! Honestly, the ingenuity of the relationships between design, mechanics and the mind is astounding, where even the icy conditions of the landscape can be used to your advantage.
There is one final integral part of GRIS that has enraptured me so. Of course, I am talking about the audio design which goes beyond mere sound by the superbly talented group Berlinist. In a story with no words, along with visuals, emphasis on audio is crucial in creating an evocative experience and this is exactly what they have achieved. This holds oh so true with GRIS, where emotions are invoked to signify development and the score spiritually bonds us to her own feelings. Each area has been crafted with its own unique sound, and particular tracks do an excellent job of choreographing certain events. The track titled Perseverance in the desert starts with sombre tones which suddenly transforms with a haunting and melancholic organ playing against an eerie chorus as a strong desert wind stained red like blood sends you flying backwards whilst instilling fear. Other notable Japanese titled songs such as Karasu (meaning raven) and Unagi (meaning eel) are also beautifully orchestrated that in their own right tell a story of progression even without the visual representation. There is so much beauty and depth in this score to immerse you, and even the smaller ambient details do their part exceptionally well. The musical score really tugged at my heartstrings and GRIS is another rare gem that has captivated and will forever remain with me, especially once I have the vinyl soundtrack that I now desperately need in my collection!
So how can I wrap this up when I still have so much I could say? Like myself, I think many people will be able to relate to GRIS and come to understand her. On a personal note, I too went through an emotionally taxing period in my life, where my world too was grey. I felt a strong attachment and understanding to GRIS, sharing her journey and emotions feeling like I too had grown a little bit stronger through this experience. The only real enemy to be found in this game and perhaps in our own reality is ourselves and the torrent of emotions that at times can overwhelm us. I hope people will find also find this journey as inspiring and will persevere, growing stronger.
A picture is worth a thousand words. My words here alone cannot express the grandeur of this game. It must be experienced first hand, and priced at £4.99 on the App store you would be crazy not to jump in! If mobile gaming is not to your liking then I urge you to go grab it on the Nintendo Switch, PC or Mac too.