Gris: Another Artistic Masterpiece

Gris is a puzzle platformer developed by Nomada Studio and published by Devolver Digital. It released on December 13, 2018. It’s available on PC and Nintendo Switch for $17.

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I have a pipe dream of building a Museum of Modern Art for video games. People would come in and experience parts of games with plaques that talk about the main themes and motifs of the game. There would be large exhibitions about a common theme in games, like how games explore empathy or something of the like. People would leave with enriching experiences and new thoughts to mull over as they go about their lives.

Gris would be one of the first games I’d want in one of those exhibits.

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It’s another artsy game with a vague story, but in this situation it’s to Gris’s benefit. The lady protagonist of our story loses her voice, and embarks on a journey to find it again. The gaps in story allow the player to imprint their own losses onto the game; her quest becomes your quest as well.

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The game is filled with metaphors given through the environment about the stages of grief. Like Rime, there is excellent use of color to highlight each stage of the cycle – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The protagonist’s dress receives abilities as you progress, and these were perhaps my favorite metaphors of all. Also like Rime, the puzzle gameplay is a good fit for the convoluted inner turmoil of the character. While they were simple at first, I truly enjoyed solving the puzzles of the latter half of the game.

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Not every game needs to be “art” like Gris, Monument Valley, or Rime, but there’s certainly a welcome space for them. It helps diversify gaming media just like books and movies. And Gris has a new space among my favorite indie games.

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