GRIS Is A Beautiful, Emotional Platformer: Our Review

Released December 13, 2018 by Nomada Studio and Devolver Digital, GRIS provides an enjoyable, balanced platformer that truly amazes the eyes. When I first saw a gameplay reveal of GRIS, I was nervous. Sure, it looked gorgeous and unique, but we’ve been promised glossy, stunning platformers that didn’t provide a fleshed out, fun or even functional experience. Thankfully, I was so very wrong. 

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Image via author’s Nintendo Switch

The premise of GRIS packs a seemingly simple story with some emotional weight, similar to how Celeste added an impressive depth to the gameplay earlier in 2018. You begin your journey falling to the cold earth; void of all color. As you progress through the game, you unlock abilities and colors that peel back layers of the world that increase the difficulty of the platformer in innovative and imaginative ways. 

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Image via author’s Nintendo Switch

The hand-drawn look and feel of the game makes you feel like you are in someone’s wildest dream, with things unfolding that only seem possible in the meticulously and lovingly crafted world that the developers created. Throughout the game’s roughly 4-hour campaign, I was so invested the titular character’s journey that I had to tell myself to walk away from the game; savoring it in more than one play-through. 

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Image via author’s Nintendo Switch

What makes GRIS such an enjoyable treat is the scale of some of the levels that you conquer mixed with the minimalist approach. There’s no HUD and very little instruction, but figuring out what needs to happen next is intuition-like, as if you were connected with Gris herself on whatever transcendental plane Nomada Studio created. There were a few times that I felt stumped, but I was never frustrated. The payoff for getting through these tough parts is rewarding and never felt cheap. The ending of the game gives you a proper kick in the heart toward the end, proving that the video game medium is the place to tell emotional stories.

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Image via author’s Nintendo Switch

In a sea of hard-hitting first-party games released on the Nintendo Switch this year, GRIS stands out as an emotional, introspective indie that proves bigger isn’t always better and those thoughtful, micro-moments make all the difference. 

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