I wanted to start out this review with a meaningful quote from a video game but I decided that GRIS doesn’t need that. This game speaks for itself in more ways than anything else ever could.
Before I get into my GRIS review, I want to say that the game is an essential experience for every gamer out there. I don’t care what your preferences are or what type of games you don’t like, you need to play this game. You may not even end up enjoying it but at least you would have tried it.
There are very few games that transcend the medium. GRIS by Nomada Studio is one of those games that refuses to be defined. It’s an experience like few I’ve come across in any medium. As a side note, it’s hard to believe that Devolver Digital published this game; it’s so unlike their other releases, but I’m definitely not complaining!
Narrative Without a Narrator
GRIS doesn’t use any dialogue throughout the four-or-so-hour-long adventure. There are several cues communicated through text, but they’re more about how to play the game and not actually about the narrative itself. I’ll try to stay away from saying too much of this game’s story because it begs to be experienced fresh.
You are an unnamed woman, traveling through an abstract world, bringing back color to everything and everyone. GRIS is like poetry in video game form, asking for interpretation instead of spitting out answers in your face. I went through a lot of emotions while playing this game, and even shed some tears towards the end of it. Powerful stuff.
GRIS Is More Than a Platformer
Let’s get this out of the way: GRIS wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Journey, a game that first launched on PlayStation 3 several years ago. It’s easy to dismiss GRIS as a 2D-Journey ripoff after playing for just a few minutes, but I would encourage you to separate the two in your mind. Journey is a precursor — an inspiration — but very much a whole other game. GRIS is its own experience, and you’ll find this to be true the longer you play.
Some people will define this game by its difficulty or the complexity of its level design. GRIS uses platforming and puzzles to tell its story more than it uses them to challenge the player. If you’re looking for a challenge, reset your expectations for this game. Everything in GRIS is used to create an environment for a self-contained experience. It’s not about gathering collectibles or unlocking rewards. This game has a message and it’s your job to discover what that means for you.
GRIS is essentially a platformer if you boil down the gameplay. When you first start the game, all you can really do is walk and jump. As you travel through the game’s world, you’ll unlock more abilities that will help you reach new areas. They’re not revolutionary ideas from a gameplay standpoint, but they’re enough to keep you interested and they work.
You can’t die in GRIS, but that isn’t really an issue. As I keep stating, this game is more than just gameplay and difficulty. This game is telling …