Review

Gris Review - Seeing In Color

  • First Released Dec 13, 2018
    released
  • PC

More than meets the eye.

Painting Gris as a beautiful adventure is almost too obvious. Even amid the crumbling ruins that hint at better days, every element of this platformer emphasizes its undeniable loveliness. From the wide-angle shots and the ethereal music to the delicate way in which you glide gracefully to a far-off platform, Gris is enrapturing in ways that make it hard to walk away from. Though it takes a mere four hours to reach the ending credits, the time spent with Gris is so captivating that it would have felt greedy to stay with it any longer.

In Gris, a young woman finds herself alone in a desolate world. Ruined buildings and broken pillars dominate the landscape, remnants from a lost civilization. Without saying a word, the woman exudes loneliness, moving forward only to fulfill the aching sense of longing that is now her only companion. The feeling of loss is palpable. You wander through a palace that could tumble with one strong gust of wind. Cracked statues lay before you, all of women. Some stand in poses of power, others of thoughtfulness, but all are only relics of what used to be. Savor the sight because the statues, the buildings, the pillars could all be turned to dust when you return.

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Your goal is to obtain fragments of light that complete constellations, allowing you to reach other areas. But the dreamy flow through locations is so subtle that it rarely feels as if you’re completing specific tasks. Rather, you guide the young woman down slopes, across balconies, and through ruins because the call to see what wonders await is impossible to resist. For much of the game, I felt lost as I glided across the serene landscapes, unaware of where I was going but curious to see what lay just outside of my vision. Being lost in Gris is different from other games, though. Whenever I wondered if I was going in the right direction, I wandered into a new location just as beautiful as where I had been, and I set off to wherever it felt like I was being led.

As I drifted through Gris’ world, I collected the odd light fragment, but it never felt like the point of my movement--I just wanted to see where the path led me, and I solved puzzles to reach the fragments along the way. These puzzles are not mind-teasers that demand careful concentration or daring trial-and-error obstacles. Rather, you need only figure out how your given abilities work in a specific area to continue onward undeterred. In the beginning, for instance, I had to learn that I could walk up staircases I thought were only in the background. A little puzzle, yes, but one that brings joy when you realize how simple and delightful the solution is.

Later sections have blocks that appear when a light shines upon them or a wintery wind that casts statues of ice in your image, but none of the puzzles are presented in such a way as to stymie a player. Gris is a game in which its lack of challenge is a positive quality because any frustrating section would have derailed the feeling of peace and serenity that it builds so wondrously as you progress. There’s no combat or death to break you from this trance, just pure pleasure throughout. I wanted to explore this world, to see breathtaking sights and soak in the melancholic score, and Gris welcomed this feeling instead of hiding its charms behind tests of skill.

Despite the ease of the puzzles, there are genuine surprises in how you navigate the world. I gasped when I realized a rippling block wasn’t as solid as I had assumed and there’s a perspective-flipping section that made me laugh with joy. The magic of Gris is that it encompasses the varied move set you’d expect in a more demanding platformer, without expecting impressive feats of dexterity to progress. Instead, it introduces all those navigational twists to draw you ever deeper into this fascinating world. Because of its many surprises, it’s the rare game where I wish I could have my memory erased, to play it once more from the beginning, because few games contain surprises that were so affected.

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Gris is joyful and sad, a beautiful ruin, contradictions that make these experiences so exciting. The surprises that lay hidden are not plot twists or unlockable goodies but rather moments when the mechanics perfectly complement the aesthetics. Every element is used to engage your sense of awe. Gris is beautiful, yes, but it uses that beauty like a surgical knife. As you climb to the top of a pyramid, with the sun growing ever brighter and the stars beckoning, it knows to pull back the camera, to show how small you stand against the majesty of the universe.

Don’t dismiss Gris as a game so caught up in its artistic splendor that it forgets what medium it's a part of, though. Strip away the resplendent visual design and enchanting score and Gris would still be enticing because of its sense of movement. The young woman moves with graceful purpose. She’s light on her feet but sure-headed, giving her a weightiness that makes it feel like you’re trying to break free of gravity but can never quite do so. There were sections when I would purposely repeat a series of jumps because it felt so good to skirt against the dreamy sky. New powers are unlocked as you get deeper into the adventure, and all of them add another layer of interactivity that not only expands your horizons but feels good to enact.

Gris understands intrinsically how magical video games can be and continually pushes your imagination until you’re almost bursting with joy. The ways in which it reinvents itself as you gain powers and dive ever deeper into this world is truly special, and just as it knows exactly when to pull back the camera or introduce a new song, it’s keenly aware of when it's time to say goodbye. Like a comet streaking across the sky, Gris is full of wonder and beauty and leaves you with a warm glow in your heart.

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The Good
Incredible artistic design and a sublime score
Freeing sense of movement
New mechanics continually impress and surprise
Consequence-free world that ensures the pacing never slows
Razor focus ensures there are no extraneous moments
The Bad
9
Superb
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Tom was enchanted by Gris for roughly four glorious hours. A Steam code was provided by the developer for the purposes of this review.
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waelse1

Sounds interesting, hope they eventually port it to Xbox or PS4.

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Forester057

Nicely written review. Thought it was ole what’s his name coming back for a freelance review. Divinity writer. Dang what’s his name? Anyway he has a way with words and so do you.

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gjozefi

While very artful yes i don't get the high score. There's not too much depth in the gameplay. I'm about 30 minutes in it's getting boring. I agree with IGN's score of 6.5.

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Forester057

@gjozefi: Thats because you are a caveman and can’t see the art in your unsophisticated state. That’s a joke ✌🏼. These artsy games get high reviews but they’re not for everyone for sure.

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gjozefi

Why isn't this on PS4 or xbox?

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Forester057

@gjozefi: Because the master race willed it to be so and it was. As it should be in a master race PC world. Seriously it will be if enough people are interested in it. Probably in the works.

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LTKCentaur

An absolutely gorgeous game with an incredible message at its heart. It's so wonderful because the themes are pretty on-the-nose at first, but there's so much more under the surface that its metaphors can interpreted to suit your emotional needs. This game made me feel the feels, but it also gave me a sense of hope and relief by the end.

It also doesn't hurt that it's one of the most visually striking games I've ever played, and the music is just incredible from start to finish. A real masterclass in narrative-centric platforming.

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MehmetAlperTR

Playing till then 2 nights. Unbelieveble .. Amazing.. Pure Art..

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salty101

It was a great game and not nearly as shallow as it looks. The problem is for some reason they wait till late in the game to start adding enough mechanics.

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MaddenBowler10

Welcome back Tom

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stevo302

All art but no substance, just like Journey and all those walking simulators before it.

Kinda sad this is getting a bunch of attention and Below isn't.

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Forester057

@stevo302: Journey was amazing! Are you a stone, man? Love games that do different things. So tired of shooters just can’t do it anymore.

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ibonedyourmom

@stevo302: Not sure how a review is "a bunch of attention." This is the first I've heard of this game. I've been seeing previews of Below for 5 years.

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Innos007666

IGN 6.5— "No comeback mechanics."

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wrednajasobaka

The game looks great but I'm not falling for it. She'll probably die at the end and I'll be bummed out for a week.

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Renunciation

@wrednajasobaka: There's no such trickery in the game.

I don't want to spoil it, but there's really isn't anything to spoil.

You see a sad-looking female character in a world full of ruins -- and you expect a story with a plot and a message. But it isn't like that at all.

It's just an "artsy" atmospheric casual platformer with environmental puzzles.

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wrednajasobaka

@Renunciation:

Thanks for letting me know, I bought the game. I really like its style.

But when I saw it I immediately thought of indie games like Limbo or The Final Station.

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Renunciation

@wrednajasobaka: Ah, cool! It does have great style -- and not just visually. The music and sound direction are a real treat, as you've likely experienced by now.

Enjoy the game, and your week of not being bummed out. Heh.

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Fandango_Letho

Lol Tom Mc Shea is back.

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el_swanno

@Fandango_Letho:

I know right. I had to check the date on the review. I thought maybe I have travelled back in time.

I’ll bet when his phone rang he was like “Look who’s come crawling back...”

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wswedin

Read a review about what gets a 10. Then read the review about this game. The tone is entirely different. As others have stated in the comments, a game that scores 10 is a revolutionary game that will remain a classic for decades. Its a game that can possibly even start a new genre. This game is very similar to many other indie games lately, but it was made fantastically. There is nothing ground-breaking about it, its just a really great game. Are people who are arguing for the 10, suggesting this game is a ground-breaking game that will start a new gaming trend? If so, then I can respect your argument. If you are arguing for a 10 because he didn't list any major flaws... I am sorry to tell ya, but a fantastic art piece that is not original or ground breaking probably won't get a 100% in graduate school for artists either. It could be a flawless art piece, but if its not pushing any boundaries, it isn't worthy of such praise. Same thing applies here... 10 is for things that shake the gaming community up. That is why I respect GameSpot reviews more than other more popular websites.

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nyran125tk

@wswedin: i dont think a 10 is that. a 10 for me, just needs to tick all the boxes. You could have a game thats groundbreaking, thats not a 10. Counter Strike back in the day was groundbreaking, but was it really a 10?If a game has no major bugs, is interesting, fun, entertaining, doesnt even need to tell a great story. Is it all the above, flawless in loads of different catagories, that can be a 10 for me. The first 2 original zeldas, groundbreaking, but were they really 10's?

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Microsteve

Dull as dishwater

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Innos007666

@Microsteve: Stevie Wonder is that you?

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fishnpeas1

Looks a bit pretentious and sinfully dull to me, and "Consequence Free" makes it sound more like an interactive video rather than a game.

I hope whoever buys it enjoys it though.

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benleslie5

Just bought this game and I couldn't put it down it was that breath taking when it comes to art

Moderator
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kachal

Oh look who is back. Uncle Tom is who.

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dariomeznari

I guess it's a really good game if you are a fan of boredom

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halo1399

Nintendo gets all the awesome indie games

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nefphlegm

@halo1399: Also available on PC

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halo1399

@nefphlegm: true

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saint311

Been following this for a few months and am super hyped to install and play it right about...now!

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positiwe

Surprised and very glad to see on reddit that Tom McShea signed another gamespot article. He was part of the golden age of that site. At the time gamespot was for me what twitch is now.

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halo1399

@positiwe: I’d argue Kasavin, Gerstmann, and Navarro were the golden age (1996-2006) but to each his own.

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positiwe

@halo1399: Yep, not for me. Mostly because i was still consuming paper magazines in my native language at the time. But also if that was the case i would gravitate towards Giantbomb right now, while i only get back to them during E3s.

My dream team was when the UK team was at it strongest with: Guy Cocker, Danny O'Dware, Jane Douglas, Johnny Chiodini, Cam Robinson, Seb Ford, Sarah Lynch, Martin Gaston, Lucy James. Gathering all their names now feels like Incredible, unrepeatable lineup.

And then on the other side of the pond: Kevin VanOrd, Tom McShea, Caroline Petit, (their GamePlay podcast was probably the first gaming podcast that i ever listened regularly to, still my favorite form of entertainment), Justin Haywald, Chris Watters, Mark Walton, Mary Kish, Peter Brown and add to that Zorine from the AU office.

The sheer amount of people that i really liked at the time, and still follow sporadically on their new jobs, being in the same media at roughly the same time is just incomparable to the Giantbomb crew or any other for that matter. Only Twitch, since a couple of years, is giving me the same kind of feeling sans the family atmosphere.

btw Tom's The Breakroom Interview with Johnattan Blow and Kevin's with Ken Levine are still my gold standard for something like that.

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Dragerdeifrit

looks pretentious and snowflakey, the artstyle is interesting tho.

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LTKCentaur

@Dragerdeifrit: Please clarify on what you mean by "snowflakey". If you mean that talking about and dealing with themes of depression, grief, anxiety, loss, and loneliness is snowflakey, then please, don't ever be a therapist.

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Warlord_Irochi

@Dragerdeifrit: "Snowflakey" ?

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nefphlegm

@Warlord_Irochi: He's about to get all political on you. Run.

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SinaGfsh

This is what gaming should be about, just as soon as i got disappointed in gaming industry all over again, that there won't be any actual "good" game anymore that represent and mean something, Gris releases out of nowhere and i had to play it by just watching the trailers. From now on, 13th Dec will be a special day to me.

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stevo302

@sinagfsh: You're not looking properly then, are you.

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Fandango_Letho

@sinagfsh:

Monster Hunter World, God of War, Spider-Man, DQ11, Red Dead 2, Smash Ultimate, DBFighterZ. None of these games was good to you?

Damn, you're one hell of a tough person to please.

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rawkstar007

Okay. You didn’t list any negatives but it’s not a 10. That’s fine. I get it. A game doesn’t start at a 10 and then work it’s way down based on its flaws. Totally respect that.

But come on. Not even a single minor gripe you could have put there? Something? Anything? For example, you said the puzzles were easy. We’re they too easy perhaps? Maybe you could have listed that in the bad category.

I’m all for appreciating a game for its artistic prowess and immersive design. But when it comes to the writing of the review, it’s time to get a little more analytical and objective.

Wait...TOM?! Is that really you?!

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nefphlegm

@rawkstar007: If a game has no flaws it should be a perfect 10... I don't understand.

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JustPlainLucas

I'd love to play this on the Switch, but to be honest, I'm a bit turned off by the lack of combat. I feel that games with this kind of style could make some really unique enemy encounters. Seems a bit of a waste.

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DaVillain-

Never heard of this game but I like the art style that Gris has going for.

Moderator
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Marvelous

This game reminds me of Child of Light, The Monument Valley and particularly Journey.

Instead of writing, the tones make the story.

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GRIS More Info

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  • First Released Dec 13, 2018
    released
    • iOS (iPhone/iPad)
    • Macintosh
    • + 2 more
    • Nintendo Switch
    • PC
    8.2
    Average Rating32 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate GRIS
    Developed by:
    Nomada Studio
    Published by:
    Devolver Digital, Special Reserve Games
    Genre(s):
    2D, Action, Platformer
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Everyone
    No Descriptors