Gris’ beauty isn’t just skin deep

Dress to impress

Gris is an absolutely stunning game. The first title from Spanish studio Nomada made a splash in mid-August when it announced a publishing deal with Devolver Digital. Anyone can immediately tell it’s a real looker.

That beauty isn’t just skin deep. Although it bills itself as “free of danger and death,” Gris‘ simplistic mechanics aren’t as straight-forward as a left-to-right walk. It has platforming chops — mildly challenging enough to keep you interested and engaged, not so difficult as to draw attention away from the incredible aesthetic.

Our 20-minute PAX West demo explored a few different concepts. The eponymous Gris has a dress that enables her with abilities. The most prevalent one during our hands-on time was the ability to transform into a blocky weight to crush parts of the environment. There’s also a double jump, but who knows if that’s dress-related.

The garment can be something of a gift and a curse. At one point, a large black bird perched nearby and squawked gusts of wind. It’s an obstacle and an aid. Gris’ dress made it impossible to walk straight through it. That part required careful timing to keep from getting blown backward. Going the opposite direction, her dress caught the wind and propelled her across a large gap.

It’s hardly revolutionary but it doesn’t need to be. Getting through Gris doesn’t feel as important as just seeing each carefully-crafted watercolor scene. Gris is a visual and aural treat, and each set is nothing short of magnificent. All the moving and jumping is adequate in a way that’s perfectly fine. It’s demanding enough so as to not be thoughtless. That feels like the sweet spot.

Honestly, the toughest part about Gris might be untangling the abstract story. It’s said to be about a person who’s mentally recuperating after a traumatic experience. That seems like a tricky narrative to convey over the course of three (or so) hours — especially without any dialogue or text. The safe money says it’ll leave a lot up to personal interpretation. We’ll find out for sure when Gris releases on PC and Switch this December.

Brett Makedonski
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