Menu

GRIS Review – Transcendent Beauty

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. 

GRIS screenshot with no color

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. 

GRIS screenshot of the battlefield

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.

GRIS screenshot of a red palace

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 a story of emotion, trying to move you in a way other games don’t. What you take away from this game is mainly up to you, so I won’t spoil the narrative, even if it isn’t a traditional one.

GRIS’ Watercolor World

 

Almost every part of this game is hand drawn and I just can’t get over it. The use of color in GRIS is some of the best I’ve seen in a video game, or really, any other medium. Everything is so fluid and looks like an animated watercolor painting. The way the character turns to face the other direction or jumps just feels so smooth and looks pretty. 

GRIS screenshot with vines

The whole world of GRIS is unique and designed from the ground up. There are traces of structures like those we have on our Earth but it’s a different take on them. As you bring back color, other parts of the world start to come into focus, expanding what’s available to you. My jaw dropped several times throughout the game as I saw this happen, along with the stunningly beautiful results. There are times I would just stop and stare at the art for a bit before moving on. There are some really abstract set pieces that will definitely get your attention.

New and Classic Sounds

 

The soundtrack for GRIS is one of my favorites of 2018; it finished the year out strongly. Berlinist has put together a classic, yet modern masterpiece with strings, synths, and soothing vocals. The music is haunting at times, then changes and communicates an impending sense of doom, and even accelerates during suspenseful action sequences. 

GRIS screenshot in blue

The GRIS soundtrack is written to follow the game closely, accentuating key moments during the story. There is a particular threat that follows you where the music pounds as you try to escape. The moments of action and serenity are perfectly paced, giving the player breaks when they need them. The sound effects are used to further enhance this and match the animation style quite nicely. 

Feel

 

GRIS doesn’t necessarily try anything groundbreaking with its gameplay or art style. What it succeeds so well in doing is taking established ideas and using them to prod at you emotionally. This game awakens something deep, maybe even something spiritual, that you didn’t know you had locked away. Relegating GRIS to the genre of hand-drawn platformer robs the game of its spirit. It’s so much more than that and it deserves to be experienced. 

GRIS screenshot of the protagonist on a hand

If you finish GRIS and feel nothing, I believe you walked into it with the wrong expectations. Go into GRIS looking for an experience, not a simple platforming game. Even if you don’t end up a huge fan, at least you experienced this beautiful work of art.

 

This review is based on the Nintendo Switch version of GRIS. All screenshots were taken in-game by the author of this review.

  • 10/10
    - 10/10
10.0/10

Summary

GRIS has to be one of my favorite games in the last few years and I honestly can’t find any flaws in this perfectly-made game. I look forward to Nomada Studio's next release, whenever that may be.

0 comments

3 Pings/Trackbacks for "GRIS Review – Transcendent Beauty"
  1. […] We recently reviewed GRIS on Nintendo Switch and gave it lots of glowing praise. We loved almost every aspect of the pretty game, including the music by Berlinist and astounding hand-drawn animation. If you’re interested in reading the Sick Critic review and learning what we had to say about it in detail, you can read it here. […]

  2. […] We recently reviewed GRIS on Nintendo Switch and gave it lots of glowing praise. We loved almost every aspect of the pretty game, including the music by Berlinist and astounding hand-drawn animation. If you’re interested in reading the Sick Critic review and learning what we had to say about it in detail, you can read it here. […]

  3. […] say for more than half a dozen games. There are several games out there without any dialogue, but GRIS takes full advantage of its visual storytelling. The music and art bring the narrative together in […]

Leave a Reply

Newsletter

Control Screenshot

Control Ultimate Edition Coming to Steam August 27

Control Ultimate Edition was announced by 505 Games and Remedy Entertainment on Wednesday, hot off the heels of the trailer for “AWE,” the upcoming expansion for the game. This new…

August 12, 2020, 47

PlayStation’s State of Play 08.06.20 Round-Up

Sony recently presented yet another State of Play presentation, which was the longest episode yet at over 40 minutes. The presentation focused mainly on third-party and indie PS4 games, with…

August 7, 2020, 186
The Darkside Detective 2 Cover Art

The Darkside Detective 2 Now Published By Akupara Games

Akupara Games is adding The Darkside Detective 2 and its predecessor to their library of games according to a press release on Tuesday. Akupara Games is already known for publishing…

August 4, 2020, 162
Games and Online Harassment Hotline

New Games and Online Harassment Hotline Provides Emotional Support to the Gaming Industry

The gaming community now has a free, dedicated place to get emotional support thanks to the Games and Online Harassment Hotline. The hotline is a text message-based service that allows…

August 3, 2020, 232
The Last of Us Part II Review

The Last of Us Part II Review – Back With a Vengeance

It’s quite the task to discuss The Last of Us Part II without spoiling anything. This review will attempt to dissect Ellie’s journey as vaguely as possible. I hope to…

August 3, 2020, 269
Shakes on a Plane Cover Art

Shakes on a Plane Comes to PC, Switch November 12

Shakes on a Plane was announced on Thursday by Assemble Entertainment, the publisher behind Leisure Suit Larry – Wet Dreams Don’t Dry. Shakes on a Plane is developed by Huu…

July 30, 2020, 241

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Update Releasing on October 29

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice has sold over five million copies ahead of its new update release on October 29. The new update will serve largely as a way for players…

July 29, 2020, 162
Promotional image of Destroy All Humans showing the player's UFO firing its Death Ray upon a forest

Destroy All Humans Review — Ancient Aliens

Whether it be due to a growing discontent with the trend-obsessive AAA industry or the fact that we are running out of unimpeachable masterpieces to reissue, the remaster-and-reboot initiative has…

July 27, 2020, 330
Ghost of Tsushima Artwork

Ghost of Tsushima Sells 2.4 Million Copies in First Three Days

Ghost of Tsushima is breaking PS4 sales records! PlayStation Tweeted Friday morning that Ghost of Tsushima is officially the fastest-selling first-party original IP. That’s a lot of qualifiers, but regardless,…

July 24, 2020, 216
Halo Infinite

Xbox Games Showcase 2020 Roundup: Halo Infinite Gameplay and More Xbox Series X Exclusives

In Thursday’s Xbox Games Showcase, we finally got a comprehensive look at what people can look forward to with Xbox Series X, such as gameplay for Halo Infinite and an…

July 23, 2020, 254