Note: Mild spoilers for GRIS follow.
GRIS, developed by Nomada Studios and released by Devolver Digital is akin to a painting in a museum. You hear about it, you go see it, and it’s everything you’ve heard it would be. You leave the museum with a warm feeling in your heart for having seen the painting, and it’s an experience you’ll treasure forever, even if you don’t really return to the piece.
I don’t aim to return to GRIS. The playthrough that I had was immensely satisfying, mostly because of the rousing score by Berlinist and the gorgeous watercolour art by Creative Director, Conrad Roset. GRIS, in its first few minutes reminded me of numerous games, namely: Journey, because of how peaceful and relaxing the game was; Child of Light, because of the sheer beauty of the areas (also watercolour); and Monument Valley, with all its angular shapes.
Yet, GRIS is its own game, and it’s a lovely game to immerse yourself in and lose a few hours. The game took me roughly four hours to complete and every moment of it took my breath away, from the initial dusty, desert area, to the forest and your adorable little helper with a love for square apples, all the way up to the underwater area (the highlight of the game) and beyond.
GRIS does have a message, and it’s a message that is open to interpretation. It is about facing your fears and coming to terms with them, and accepting that they exist, but not letting them control you. Perhaps, GRIS is about grief, and how to overcome it with time, rather than letting it consume you. Maybe GRIS is also about letting your past go, and not letting it control you or your choices you make for the future.
There are numerous possible answers to the message of GRIS; all of them plausible. What matters is not the end, but the journey, and GRIS provides a scenic, hauntingly beautiful journey that will leave you with a warm, if a bit melancholy, glow once you’re done.
GRIS, however, like its nameless female lead, does have its flaws. The puzzle-platforming elements are quite simple, never requiring more than a few moments before that ‘a-ha’ moment. Some parts that take longer simply do because of the interactive elements melding in too well with the surroundings, leaving one at a loss until, usually by accident, one solves the puzzle.
You can never rage at GRIS, though, simply because it is too peaceful for that. The flaws of the game are minor in comparison to the journey it provides, and, overall, that’s what matters.
N.B.: You can check out the whole playthrough of the game on Twitch.