The question of whether or not video games are art has been the subject of intense debate since the medium's earliest days, but Gris, the newly revealed title from Devolver Digital, sets out to prove they are. Developed by Nomada, a small studio based in Barcelona, Gris (from the Spanish word for "gray") is a beautiful, contemplative 2D platformer that explores themes of pain and sorrow, and it does so in a way that's accessible to all players, regardless of their skill level.
Inspired by other evocative titles such as Journey and Inside (as well as classic animated films by Disney and Studio Ghibli), Gris tells the story of a young girl going through a painful experience. Throughout the course of her journey, she'll grow as she copes with her trauma--which is reflected not only in her expanding repertoire of skills, but in the way the world becomes more and more vibrant.
At the outset, Gris is displayed in stark black and white. As you make your way through the adventure, however, additional colors will gradually fill in the world. The result is a gorgeous, visually striking art style that's brought to life using traditional techniques like watercolor and pencil shading.
The story, too, gradually unfolds as players progress through the adventure. Rather than laying the backstory out at the start of the game, Nomada says it is more intriguing for players to piece the narrative together and come to their own conclusions and realizations as they play. To that end, the game sheds many storytelling conventions used by other titles. Aside from occasional prompts that explain a new ability that has been acquired, Gris features no UI of any sort, and the story is told without any dialogue.
The game even eschews death altogether. Gris doesn't feature any enemies to battle or bosses to overcome, so you won't be able to die as you make your way through the adventure. That's not to say it's devoid of challenge, however. The game is littered with environmental puzzles, and throughout the course of your journey you'll discover new abilities, which will allow you to access different parts of the world.
You can get a much closer look at Devolver's unique new platformer in the video above, which was captured at a preview event prior to the game's reveal. The video showcases nearly 20 minutes of gameplay as we work our way through a level specially arranged for the demo, showing off some platforming challenges and a few of the abilities you'll be able to acquire in the game.
Gris launches for Nintendo Switch and PC this December. The game will also be playable at PAX West later this month, giving attendees a chance to go hands-on with it ahead of its release.