Gris is one of those games which is rarely like anything you’ve played before, but which at the same time, does. It’s immensely difficult to explain what it’s all about because I didn’t understand it myself, but I know I enjoyed it.
Similar to 2D walkabouts like The Thin Silence and The Mooseman, you have to get from A to B by finding the right path and sometimes double-backing on yourself. However, with Gris, it’s like walking through and part-controlling a painting, with the most gorgeous music (from Berlinist) you’ve ever heard as you take the role of the titular young woman, but sometimes also ending up in the hands of a female statue – and one which will crumble apart as she does at the beginning.
It’s part-platformer and part-exploration, but it’s best to comb through every area, although at times it can feel a bit directionless as you’re walking or swimming through some areas without any clear goal. This is far from the only game to have done that, though, as, for example, I could’ve spent days wandering around The Vanishing of Ethan Carter had I not consulted a walkthrough from time to time… (and time and time and time)
You get additions to your moves as you go along, so instead of just jumping, you can jump and drift a bit (so you don’t immediately crash down to earth), you can slam down to the ground to open up new areas, ‘sing’ (yes, sing) and more.
Early on, it felt intuitive, then later, it felt a little directionless at times as you’re not sure where you’re meant to go next, and you do repeat some areas later on, even if they do look different to how they were originally. I’m not saying it should wholly signpost the way forward, but for those, I felt it should be a little more intuitive, since while at times you have to find checkpoints of light which form constellations, it’s not always easy to work out where the answers are.
I know I’m contradicting myself at times, here, but it’s a baffling experience and one best explained by just watching a walkthrough.
The upside down sections in the last quarter are incredibly bizarre, but they do come together very well with the upright ones next to them, so a great deal of thought has gone into the level design.
There’s also an additional cut-scene which you’ll see if you access an area just before the end, but which you’ll only see if you’ve collected every last collectible in the game… which I didn’t, so I had to check out the video on Youtube (below).
Overall, Gris is certainly worth playing and do enjoy the visuals, as it’s like walking through a painting, but it does feel a little less than the sum of its parts, albeit still being a worthy experience.
Gris is out now on PC/Steam.
- Developer: Nomada Studio
- Publisher: Devolver Digital
- Players: single-player
- Subtitles: n/a
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.