Revisit the stunning and artistic indie tale at its finest visual presentation yet in our new-gen GRIS review.
Short-form, story-centered video games have become a mainstay in the medium. While it’s fun to scour open worlds for dozens of hours, games that are a mere few hours tend to stick in your memory for much longer. Some of my favorite games of all time, Sayonara Wild Hearts and Before Your Eyes, last just a few hours, but I’ll never forget how I felt when I first played them. A true testament of “less is more“, I’m always keen on getting my heartstrings pulled in these types of video games.
Every moment in GRIS is a work of art – a screenshot at any given time could serve as a painting.
One that’s been buried in my backlog is GRIS, which boasts a captivating watercolor art style that showcases the game as a “living painting”. It’s not often you see art come to life quite like this – of note is last year’s Pentiment, of course – but when it’s done right, it’s purely ethereal. GRIS captured several awards in its original 2019 release, including “Games for Impact” at The Game Awards and “Best Gameplay” at the Games for Change Awards. So, if you’ve already loved GRIS on a previous console, is it worth picking up again? Find out in our GRIS review.
GRIS Review – Story
It would be sinister to rob you of the beauty of GRIS‘ storytelling by revealing any spoilers, so I’ll provide a brief synopsis to catch you up to speed. GRIS sees the titular protagonist move through a colorless world, slowly but surely bringing it to life with the introduction of colors as she progresses.
There are hardly any words spoken/any text on-screen throughout the entirety of GRIS – the story is perfectly conveyed through seamless cutscenes, smooth transitions, and no loading screens. Perfect for all ages, it will evoke the imaginative side of the youth and the deeply-sentimental side of adults.
As you discover more colors in GRIS, the game only looks more and more gorgeous.
Games of this sort tend to have a twist somewhere near the end – the fact that GRIS could convey its ending and how it self-contains the journey without speaking a single word is indicative that the game’s story can be enjoyed by just about anyone. A brief 2-3 hour affair, GRIS never overstays its welcome and you can easily recall the start-to-finish experience with fondness. Completionists are rewarded with a bonus cutscene when all is said and done, encouraging replays for those interested.
GRIS Review – Gameplay
GRIS adheres to a 2D platforming style. Apart from moving and jumping, further controls are quite limited until you come across them throughout the game’s story. Once you do, you can expect to make the most of becoming a rotund square, singing to awaken flowers, and other abilities necessary to solve clever puzzles. There’s some real head-scratchers, especially if you’re going for 100% completion, but I never resorted to a walkthrough and found myself sorting things out on my own to satisfactory delight.
The emptiness you’re greeted with at the start of GRIS blossoms into sprawling, mesmerizing eye candy by its end.
There’s no real combat in GRIS, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t tense situations here and there. One particular chase had me on the edge of my seat as the threat of failure was inches away. Another tribulation early on measured my persistence, as the appearance of progress was slow but ultimately sure. More than just running and jumping, GRIS teases the mind and will put your critical thinking to the test.
GRIS Review – Audio
GRIS is scored by Berlinist, a composer from Barcelona, Spain that fits the game like a glove. Masterfully accompanying every area with appropriate tunes, the delicate, lonely introduction features a desolate soundscape, whereas the frantic, terrifying tempo within the chase encounter enhances the intensity. The shimmering, icy depths employ echo, whereas the forest that’s full of life is whimsical and explorative. Every setting is as tantalizing to the eyes as it is to the ears.
Is GRIS worth it on PS5?
If you’ve already enjoyed your time with GRIS on another console, why bother purchasing it again? Well, there’s a case to be made thanks to the tweaks GRIS received for the PS5. Not only are you experiencing a game famed for its visuals in the highest possible fidelity, you also reap the benefits of using a DualSense controller. The haptic feedback, whether it be plummeting to the ground with force or fighting a ghastly gale of wind, cements the immersion that GRIS provides.
Plus, Gris’ voice coming from the controller in shockingly-great quality is dazzling. The hour-to-dollar ratio is uneven, which is typically the case for these short-form games, but if you account for how emotionally-impactful and striking the title is, the playtime doesn’t matter and GRIS’ low price point for new-gen is definitively worth it.
GRIS is a moving, excellent trek through processing grief and battling inner demons. It’s presented in such pristine fashion and is as worth it to pick up for those who played in 2019 as it is for newcomers. It’s marketed as “free of danger, frustration, or death”, so don’t expect a massive challenge aside from nabbing every collectible, but expect to feel some strain when the plot comes together as it concludes. GRIS is an easy recommendation for anyone in the market for a touching experience to sink your teeth into.
So, why should you play it?
- Breathtaking visuals from the very start to the very end.
- A meaningful story that is told without words.
- Slick enhancements on the PS5 that make this the best way to play the game.
But why shouldn’t you play it?
- It’s a few hours long.
- There’s no challenge to overcome.
A review code was kindly provided courtesy of Devolver Digital for the purpose of our GRIS review. If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out our library of indie reviews as well!