Review

Developed by:Nomada Studio Published by:Devolver Digital Genre(s):
  • Adventure
  • Platformer
  • Platform:
  • Nintendo
  • PC
  • Cost:$16.99 ESRB Rating:EVERYONE Players:1 Release date:December 13, 2018 Reviewed on:PC
    9

    GRIS

    GRIS follows the story of a young girl (named Gris) who becomes trapped in a strange land. Early environments are barren – the ruins of a past civilization are the only clue of her current whereabouts. What is apparent is that something traumatic has happened. She’s suffered a loss that eclipses her sudden departure. Finding her way back home will prove difficult for more than the obvious reasons…

    Expressing anything else about Gris’ plight would be a disservice to the game. Developed by Nomada Studio, this platformer has been meticulously designed to deliver a transformative experience. I wouldn’t want to betray those efforts with heavy exposition. Even if I did lend my thoughts on what happened, it’s possible that I would not convey it all correctly. Gris is forced to confront something very personal over the course of the game. And while I was the one manipulating her movements, the lessons weren’t for me. As such, her feelings aren’t always expressed in a way that I understood.

    There were hints of course. Seemingly inanimate objects would spring to life as she came near. Vibrant colors would bleed into the world, altering the landscape so that Gris could move forward. The images found on stone structures, the remains of a fallen idol, the encounters with a shadowy figure – all of it seemed real and at the same time, metaphorical. As Gris deals with past and present issues, her outlook changes. There is growth. What starts as a solemn trek through a foreign place turns into a hopeful march towards a profound conclusion. It’s a fascinating thing to witness.

    Beyond the story, I can say is that GRIS is an imaginative game with solid mechanics. Things move slow at first, with some basic platforming and very little in contextual information provided. Light puzzles, in difficulty and function, are eventually introduced; you’ll need to collect orbs of light that act like stars to form constellations that bridge distant platforms. Reaching a monument of sorts will result in newfound powers that manifest within Gris’ dress. One ability makes it very heavy, turning stone like as it takes on a boxy shape. With it, she can anchor herself against strong winds or crash through the ground at designated areas. Other powers might permit her to float through the air or dart around an underwater cavern with ease. Whatever the case, each one will provide a means of exploration, allowing Gris to reach new areas as she continues her journey.

    The puzzles are cleverly designed. Aside from some optional segments though, none of them will have you stumped for very long. Their inclusion is symbolic, acting as a link between the player and what Gris is experiencing at a given moment. The same goes for the shadowy figure that stalks her during different parts of the game. As threatening it seems, Gris is never in any real danger. What makes it so menacing, besides its ability to shapeshift, is how it impedes Gris’ efforts. It’s the one thing that could prevent her from learning the truth about her predicament.

    We’d all agree that games are works of art. GRIS however, seems to breathe life into that sentiment. Not merely here to entertain, its story feels deeply personal; Gris’ journey, at its core, is rather relatable. The gameplay doesn’t present anything new on the surface. It is expertly paced though, with solid mechanics and well thought out puzzles. Beyond that, the game sports a visually stunning world (with a watercolor/hand drawn aesthetic) and a musical score that can only be described as heavenly. Essentially, Nomada’s first game presents an amazing experience that’s worth having!

    Gameplay:

    10

    GRIS is one of the best narrative-based platformers released this year. Its expert pacing, well designed puzzles, and imaginative world speak to this truth.

    Graphics:

    10

    The watercolor/hand drawn aesthetic is amazing.

    Sound:

    10

    The music, especially Gris’ song, is heavenly.

    Replay Value:

    6

    Besides some secret items/puzzles sprinkled throughout, there isn’t much reason to return once the credits roll.

    Final Score:

    9

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