GRIS

A game by Nomada Studio for PC, Mac, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox X/S, iOS, and Android, originally released in 2018.
GRIS is an adventure game featuring light platforming and puzzle elements. The game stars the eponymous Gris, a young woman who must overcome pain and grief as her peaceful world suddenly crumbles around her. The game’s wordless story is told mostly through symbolism and begins with Gris waking up in the cracked palm of a giant statue of a woman… one of many such damaged statues she encounters on her journey, many appearing in poses of lament. She begins to sing but quickly becomes unable to find her voice. She slumps to the ground and the statue cracks into pieces, sending her tumbling into the world below.
Once on solid ground, Gris can only move slowly to the left or right, and performing any action causes her to drop to her knees, after which she pulls herself slowly to her feet. The ground beneath her is represented by a thin pencil line, and everything has been drained of color. Gris wears a long grey dress that flows around her as she moves (and makes her visible even when the camera pulls back), and her blue hair stands out as the only bit of color in the world around her.
As she struggles to make her way through the vast white desert, she takes a moment to compose herself, and then breaks into a run. At this point, she is also able to jump. The camera pulls back to reveal dark rocks and branches jutting up from the dunes, and crumbling stone structures all around her. By making her way up through these structures, Gris discovers orbs that can be used to create platforms in certain designated areas, allowing her to continue on her journey.
Throughout the world, there are several optional orbs to be discovered, which are placed off the beaten path and available to players who wish for an added challenge. Otherwise, the path forward is generally quite easy, especially for experienced players, with progress gated by some basic puzzles and platforming sequences. The game’s primary focus is the exploration of the world and the development of Gris as she restores color, rebuilds herself, and grows from her experience.
The story is told through a lovely illustrative visual style, featuring hand-drawn animations and environments, with watercolor paints. Color is restored to the world a little at a time, which drives the environmental themes. The first color to be restored is red, which lends itself to the design of desert-like environments filled with sand and rocky outcroppings, and punctuated by pyramids, sandstorms, and ancient structures.
With green restored, plant life is revealed and Gris wanders through forests and encounters some living creatures. Blue areas are designed around water and caves, and yellow areas focus on restoring light. The beautiful environments are accompanied by a relaxed yet haunting soundtrack that supports the spirit of exploration and growth.
At the start of the game, Gris can only run and jump, and slide down the occasional slope… although there is limited interaction during the many sliding and falling sequences. Eventually, she gains the ability to wrap her dress around herself and turn into a block, which is used to resist strong winds, drop down quickly, tilt certain elements, and break destructible objects below her. This is the most outwardly destructive ability she gains, but there is no combat, so it is primarily used as a means of navigation. Later abilities include a fairly straightforward double jump and the ability to swim underwater.
Making progress requires completing some simple puzzles to move objects in the environment that let you reach orbs. Each puzzle room has a certain number of orbs that must be collected (usually only two or three) before you can move forward, and you’re generally able to collect the orbs in any order. In the forest area, you encounter a companion who follows you around, and you must interact with it to solve some puzzles.
Things get somewhat more challenging in the back half of the game with water-oriented puzzles that require you to pay close attention to the environment while occasionally transitioning in and out of the water, which requires proper timing, especially as you encounter pools of water suspended in the air. The final area (there are six in all) adds in some gravity flipping as well, and requires that you make use of all of your other abilities. This area is the least straightforward, and the combination of swimming through the air, flipping gravity, and levels that loop back in on themselves can make it difficult to get a sense of where you are in the level as a whole.
There are several interactible objects, including disappearing-reappearing-reshaping platforms (with cool transition animations), swarms of birds that let you boost yourself high into the air, and some fireflies that do the same while illuminating the environment around you… creating some time-based challenges where you must jump between platforms before the light goes out and they disappear.
While there are no enemies, there is a recurring boss that takes different forms throughout the game, sometimes appearing as a bird, an eel, or something even more terrifying. This creature is made up of some kind of black sludge (a personification of the pain Gris is experiencing) that moves and twists and wraps itself around things in a terrifying manner. These are the game’s most intense moments and feature some superb animations. These encounters make for some great narrative setpieces, but they are not any more challenging than the levels themselves, as they are overcome through environmental puzzle solving, or simply by outrunning them.

2D CRED
GRIS was developed by Nomada Studio, a studio based in Barcelona, Spain, and headed by creative director and lead artist Conrad Roset, producer and programmer Roger Mendoza, and technical director Adri├ín Cuevas. Music for the game was composed by Berlinist, which also composed the music for Moncage and Wordless. This was the studio’s first release.
The game was published by Devolver Digital, which has published a number of 2D indie games including Serious Sam: Double D XXL, Luftrausers, Broforce, Foul Play, Fork Parker's Holiday Profit Hike, Hotline Miami, Hotline Miami 2, Titan Souls, Not a Hero, Ronin, Downwell, Enter the Gungeon, Mother Russia Bleeds, Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour, Minit, The Swords of Ditto, The Messenger, Crossing Souls, Gato Roboto, and Katana ZERO, Witcheye, and Carrion.



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