GRIS presents itself as a journey to self-rediscovery in a world riddled with mystery, cleverly sequenced platforms, and intricate puzzles. It is a celebration of colors – an artwork set in motion adorned with a dynamic musical score. The game poses no real threat; death is absent but the events may, at times, leave you clueless. However, Gris encourages one to take on the challenges and explore the ever changing environment.
The game starts off with Gris waking up on a cracked hand sculpture atop a watercolor backdrop in full color. While singing, Gris somehow loses her voice and appears to be escaping from something she fears. The hand crumbles until Gris endlessly fell off in a world devoid of colors except black and white. You will then guide a slumping Gris, too weak to even move forward, through a desolate land of abstract dead trees and derelict ruins.
You continue until you meet a faintly tiny glowing sphere. This glowing sphere, reminiscent of a piece of constellation, will then accompany you. In Gris, one of the main objectives is to collect these tiny spheres. You will need them to help you reach your next destination or unlock an ability. However, they are placed strategically throughout different locations where the puzzles and platforming aspect of the game will then impede your progress.
Gris gives a lot of visual cues in forms of art and puzzles instead of texts. At first, you have to be keen-eyed to distinguish the dissimilarities in layers and landscapes of the 2D environment. You may be able to differentiate them by spotting the variances in color tones. As the layers do not make themselves too obvious, you may try to jump or walk on them to know if these are platforms waiting for you to step on.
It is advisable to make mental notes of objects of interest as you navigate through platforms all the while solving puzzles. The game also allows you to partially backtrack. Partially because, unless you complete the current chapter you’re in, you can backtrack only up to some set point. You are also given the freedom to navigate a certain level until you complete that level’s main objective or until you manage to unlock an ability.
With Gris’ flowing dress, abilities can be performed. These abilities will greatly aid in solving puzzles and reaching your goal. Think of it as the items and tools you get in The Legend of Zelda which help you clear a dungeon. Once learned, you may explore to your heart’s content and check places you least expect to get to secret locations.
As you clear a chapter, you unlock a color which will then transform the environment. Unlock green and it will cause leaves to grow on dead trees and the backdrop to which you can interact with. Unlock more colors and they will continually transform the environment – giving more challenges and allowing you to reach previously inaccessible places.
Gris progressively gets challenging but, I believe, has the right amount of difficulty. Puzzles were cleverly placed and the mechanics well thought out. The developers’ complete attention to detail is also commendable. Notice the musical instruments playing while crossing platforms or when scenes change. Strange debris-like creatures also inhabit the world. They do not seem to have any use, at first, but will soon get to evolve, aiding you in your quest. There are also these colossal sculptures laden with cracks resembling women in anguish, another of the game’s symbolisms.
If you’re a completionist, don’t fuss as you are given an option to continue the game once you have completed the campaign. You may go back to one of the six chapters and select from among the 14 levels to collect those that you may have missed during your first playthrough.
Overall, the game’s execution is exquisite. Gris will no doubt give a moving experience to anyone who cherishes a gameplay infused with art and metaphors. However, it is not without a few minor faults. While not often, slight lags occur when visuals get a little too busy. Gameplay is also short and lasts for about 7 hours or less considering you tried getting all the collectibles.
- Masterfully crafted visuals and music
- Clever use of abilities
- Carefully designed puzzles
- Slight lags occur when things get busy
- Short gameplay
- Avatar gets too tiny when the game zooms out (best played on TV mode)
VERDICT: Truly, this soup is worthy of praises – a masterpiece if you will. Albeit the serving is small, this soup leaves you wanting for more.
A review copy was provided by the publisher for this review