Aesthetics and looks were never a top priority in early video games. Think of games like Pong and Tetris. They’re not really much of a looker. Partly due to technological limitations and partly because the gameplay was more important, the visuals of a game often came later, as an aside to the game. This is not so anymore. With recent games like Ori and the Blind Forest and Transistor, the art of the game can become just as important as the gameplay itself.
GRIS, by Nomada Studio, falls under the category of very visually beautiful games. Watching the trailer, you forget that this is a game and not just an animated film. The transitions are smooth, the colors are gorgeous, and the sceneries are mindblowing. Soft, cool colors are used to evoke a sense of melancholy, broken lines show you where exactly the storyline breaks away from the calm, and stunning contrasts are used to bring an eeriness to some scenes.
Gameplay wise, GRIS looks like a lot of other platformers, where you play as the main character, Gris, and solve puzzles to advance to the next part of the world. What’s really nice about this game is that there is absolutely no heads-up display at all, making the game even more immersive. It really feels like an animated film that you just happen to be able to control.
In relation to the world, a lot of the time we see Gris as just a tiny part of the screen. This works on two parts. One, we feel how big the world of the game is. Deep lakes, towering mountains, and giant castles are only a few of the landscapes featured in the game. Gris is but a small woman, trying her best to traverse this world. Two, it gives the developers even more room to craft elaborate scenes. If you think of some classic platformers, like Super Mario or Sonic, we only ever see a small part of the world where the main character is currently in at one time. In GRIS, the world is large, intimidating, and a character all on its own.
One of the best tests to see how gorgeous a game or movie is is if you’re able to take a screenshot at any point, and each screenshot is worthy of becoming a screensaver. I can confirm that, based on the gameplay videos and trailers, this is true. Every single random screenshot is gorgeous, composed well and has amazing colors.
The team of artists working on GRIS is headed by Conrad Roset, an illustrator whose style elicits whimsy and mystery with the use of beautiful linework and colors. Though the game is a much cleaner work in terms of lines and color, you can see Roset’s influence on the palette of colors and overall design of the characters and landscape.
But that’s just about the visuals. The sound is another important part of any game, especially this one. GRIS features an original score with pianos and orchestral sounds, elevating that melancholy that’s set up throughout the game. It’s calm and serene when Gris is exploring the world, then heavy and fastpaced when an important scene is playing. Play this game with your headphones on and you’ll forget about everything else around you.
According to Devolver Digital, GRIS is about a girl named Gris, who is “a hopeful young girl lost in her own world, dealing with a painful experience in her life. Her journey through sorrow is manifested in her dress, which grants new abilities to better navigate her faded reality. As the story unfolds, Gris will grow emotionally and see her world in a different way, revealing new paths to explore using her new abilities.”
GRIS isn’t promising any new, spectacular game mechanics. What it does promise is a stunning, dream-like landscape to explore, a storyline about a girl who’s trying to find her voice, and to get lost within the ethereal world of GRIS.
You can look out for GRIS when it comes out on Nintendo Switch and PC this December.
Dea wishes she could play the latest Tomb Raider or Uncharted, but she can’t, so instead she reads and watches other people play. On her down time, you can probably find her re-reading Captain Marvel. The Carol Danvers one.