Gris: Swoon Over This Artistic Wonder of an Indie Game

Gris
A bit of Gris.

Spanish indie team Nomada Studio released this at the tail end of 2018. The indie is an artistic wonder, channelling relaxing elements from the likes of Alto’s Odyssey with puzzle solving, and a spectacular visual finesse. Bloody hell, it’s surely set for indie classic status.

Gris

Now, “gris” is Spanish for “grey”. And it’s that moribund colour in which you start your journey as a young lady seemingly lost in deeply personal sorrow.

What follows is an entrancing visual and audio experience – a real gem that, once again, proves how essential the indie scene is for the games industry. Few major AAA releases would dare try this level of unbridled creativity.

It’s a game you really need to play alone, with your headphones on, to appreciate what the developers intend with it.

The soundtrack from Berlinist (a music group headed up by Marco Albano and Gemma Gamarra) is exceptional, with choral sweeping themes, lots of piano, and echoes of Ubisoft’s Child of Light.

We’ve long had the stance an incredible soundtrack is far more essential to a gaming experience than a focus on graphics.

But you certainly can’t ignore the latter, as it packs in so much character to the experience.

Arty Art

Gris isn’t as overt in its artistic influences as other indie classic Monument Valley II. Its focus is far more abstract – a surrealistic trip through a mindscape of, arguably, mental disintegration.

The art style was influenced through the likes of Studio Ghibli, with the kodama (tree forest spirits) from Princess Mononoke enjoying an adaptation.

And, sure enough, we came across one of these little dudes. And we liked the friendly chap – who really loves apples – enough to give him some social media time.

And whilst playing that section it made us realise how absorbed we were. Mr. Wapojif was openly speaking to himself about what to do, soon realising he had to knock apples to the ground for the kadama-esque dude.

So, yeah, we’re pretty smitten with this thing.

Classic

Gris, of course, needs to pack a gameplay punch alongside its looks.

It’s an example of every element of a title coming together to create an enjoyable whole. The graphics, music, and gameplay are what make up the title – it’s a merger of everything at once, rather than just swooning over how pretty it is.

But as a game the main focus is puzzle solving merged with some borderline M.C. Escher type mathematically considered woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints. The game doesn’t veer towards the Monument Valley-style gameplay, but that is an obvious inspiration.

Yet Gris is a 2D platformer. And it’s another one that proves that the apparent “trappings” of the genre won’t stop your creative vision.

You can have a remarkably moving and absorbing gaming experience despite a 2D environment – anyone thinking this genre is anachronistic is a contradiction in their own right (Ori and the Blind Forest is another perfect example why).

But the input from the player is rather minimal. Asides from the puzzle solving, the experience is more like playing an interactive movie – you drift through it rather in awe.

With the soaring soundtrack and relentlessly creative visual appeal, we soon realised this is arguably an instant indie masterpiece. Highly recommended for the relaxation factor, escapist might, and those little kodama dudes.

Making Of

Finally, if you want to learn more about the project then there’s the making of documentary right here.

Launching into a video game is a tough old job and requires years of preparation and hard work, but it can all lead from a collective effort towards something like this. Proper belting, mate.

4 comments

  1. I’ve been hearing mixed things about this, but I think I’m really going to like it. I completely agree about the importance of a great soundtrack, so that makes me even more excited.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve seen a few mixed reviews, although Destructoid handed over 10/10. And they’re usually spot on. And I agree in this case. It’s a short, straightforward game, but the emotional impact is pretty mighty.

      Liked by 1 person

Have some gibberish to dispense with?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.