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Gris Review


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On 02/26/2019 at 12:00 PM by Joe Step

Do you like Journey, but want it to have a bit more Mario in it? This is for you.
RECOMMENDATION:

A bit more "game-y" than titles like Journey or Flower, but still an excellent experience along those lines, with only a couple of hiccups.

While GRIS is a short, 3-4 hour experience that doesn't take a whole lot of gaming skill for most of its run-time, don't be fooled into thinking there aren't legitimately challenging platforming and puzzle sections. Whether this immerses you more in GRIS's world or is just an interruption to your good time depends on what kind of games you like, but I'd say it's well worth the experience. 

Text Review/Transcript:

The first hour or so of GRIS led me to believe it’s an “experience game,” along the lines of Journey and Flower, in which you have control but there’s not much you can really do to mess up and the experience you have means a lot more than your gaming skills. Having now finished the main story of the game,  GRIS still kind of fits in that genre, but plenty of puzzle-platforming and optional exploration make it a bit more “gamey” than those titles. Most of the time, I welcomed feeling more in control of and challenged by the experience, but a couple platforming and puzzle sections had me wishing the game would get out of its own way.

In any case, I’d say the colors, art style, music, animation, fluid controls, and vague-but-pretty-sure-I-get-it story are worth experiencing for yourself. GRIS is the Spanish word for grey, so the objective of the game is fittingly to add color (and music) back into the world once the crumbling of a giant lady statue leaves the main character stranded, voiceless and faltering in a colorless desert. It says something about the developers’ artistic ability that even the supposedly bland, grey world seen in the beginning of the game just looks like awesome sketch art punctuated by your main character’s design.

Along the journey, you’ll pick up stars that form into constellations you can walk on in order to access new areas and gain abilities like double-jumping and ground pounding, among others. Having only received 6 out of 17 achievements on my playthrough, I can’t really tell you what you get for finding enough doodads to awaken the hieroglyphs seen on the main area’s walls, but I’m certainly thinking of replaying the game with a guide to find out. And, of course, you’ll unlock the colors necessary to complete the game, each with its own gorgeous themed area.

While the unlockables are fun to find and collect and fit the visual and emotional themes of the game well, I would have liked the option of a map for certain sections of the game, at least once you’ve completed it and want to go back and find anything you may have missed. There were occasions where I backtracked a bit too far because I wasn’t sure where to go next or if I was solving the right puzzle in an area, as well as times where I’d want to explore and find extra items only to realize I just jumped down a hill I couldn’t get back up from. As I alluded to earlier, some of the platforming kind of deflated my experience and wound up making what should have looked like beautifully shot scenes from a Terrence Malick film look like outtakes in which cast and crew were pretending I didn’t just fall down 12 flights of stairs before gracefully making my way back up. The fact the orchestral music had died down at that point just made things more awkward.

Still, these moments were few and far between and the puzzles were usually just enough to make me feel accomplished without being frustrated. Nothing was difficult enough to keep me from completing the game in a total of about 4 hours, so whatever annoyances I had with the game were resolved pretty quickly.

I’d say GRIS is worth full-price despite its short run time, because it’s such a unique and even emotional experience despite the lack of any dialogue or exposition. This vagueness winds up being a strength as any interpretation you have of the game will be at least somewhat your own. If what you’ve seen has you interested in this game, chances are you will not be disappointed in the final product. Just don’t be fooled into thinking it’s pure art house fair and expect to do some traditional gaming before you see the end.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

Exrian Contributing Writer

02/26/2019 at 01:36 PM

I wasn't sure what to make of this game. It definitely looked amazing in motion but I wasn't sure if it'd be another game I buy and just never get around to. Your review has definitely piqued my interest. Its funny how 4 hours make my interest grow where 10 years ago I'd have read that sentence and passed. Think I may get this on a sale to play with my daughter. Great review. 

Super Step Contributing Writer

02/26/2019 at 01:39 PM

Yeah, it's hard for me to play a game that is 20 or so hours long, and tbh I don't think I ever did that too often in the past either. Pretty sure Zelda titles are the only games of that length I used to buy and beat and those never felt as long as other RPGs. 

Thank you for the nice comment; I hope you like the game if you pick it up!

mothman

02/26/2019 at 08:52 PM

I really enjoyed playing what I did of this game. I need to go back and put in the couple of hour to finish it. 

Super Step Contributing Writer

02/27/2019 at 12:00 AM

It's worth your time. It's a beautiful game. 

KnightDriver

02/26/2019 at 10:06 PM

Does seem like "pure arthouse fare", but I can dig that sometimes. 

Super Step Contributing Writer

02/27/2019 at 12:01 AM

But it's not quite ... because you really do play it and with some traditional mechanics. If you have a way to get your hands on it, I recommend it. 

goaztecs

02/27/2019 at 03:03 PM

Visually it looks beautfiul, and it sounds like it borrows from a couple of games I've played and combined their best assets. This is a game I would enjoy more on PC than on the Switch because the small screen of the Switch wouldn't do it justice. I think the only thing holding me back right now is that it's $16 for a four hour game. If it goes on sale I would jump on it. 

I dig your review. It was informative and it gave me a good idea on what to expect in this game.  

Super Step Contributing Writer

02/27/2019 at 03:13 PM

Yeah, the price is a little steep for the time if you only plan on playing it once, but it's a great experience. Definitely get it if you see it on Steam sale, as PC is where I played it. I dunno though, it seems like Switch would be a cool platform for this kind of game (I don't have a Switch though, so you'd know better).

Thank you! 

VisuaLIES

04/11/2019 at 01:49 PM

You could always play the Switch version on your TV :p

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