Developed by Nomada Studio, GRIS is an emotionally resonant platformer is the same vein as Journey or Inside, following a young girl on a cryptic journey players are supposed to interpret for themselves. After playing a brief demo, we were entranced by its alluring visuals and stunning music, both of which are positive signs of something special.
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GRIS Release Date – when is it coming out?
GRIS is a 2D platformer where you play as a young girl journeying through a colourful yet mysterious world filled with manifestations of her own unexplained sorrow. She’s clearly mourning for something, whether it be a loved one, a failed opportunity or even a missing limb, as some of the symbolism seemingly hints to.
The demo begins with our protagonist resting upon the hand of a crumbling statue, bellowing out an almost haunting melody as her beautiful voice to appears to literally shatter her surroundings. Even without any real context, it’s a striking moment that immediately sets the tone for the coming 30 minutes or so. As far as first impressions go, GRIS is among the strongest.
Then, I find myself atop a blood red mountain before gracefully sliding down into the abyss that awaits me. It’s a powerful opening section ripe with storytelling potential, pulling the player in with a hostile tug as we’re asked to explore this wonderfully alien world.
The ever-changing colour palette feels like a mixture of Journey and Blade Runner; a combination I never expected to hear myself describe. The mountain’s highest peaks eventually lead into the perilous depths of a dark forest. It feels as if the colour scheme grows darker alongside the thematic introduction, teasing the long, hard journey that awaits.
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As far as platformers go, GRIS isn’t on the difficult side, and I’m told this is a deliberate choice by the developers. Nomada Studios don’t want frustrating sections to remain a barrier to deliberately paced storytelling, and I can’t help but admire this approach.
One of the first mechanics I encounter are constellations which can be activated as bridges to walk over obstacles. You can switch these on by collecting small shiny orbs spread across each level. This encourages small bouts of experimentation, but this seldom extends beyond brief jumping puzzles or walking in one direction for a few seconds.
There are similar platforming challenges which are fun and easy to approach, presenting a recognisable pattern of platforms that appear and disappear at a moment’s notice. While trivial to conquer, they still remain fun and engaging to jump across thanks to how enjoyable GRIS is to simply control. Our main character moves with a flow as her dress sways behind her in the wind.
Speaking of her dress, this is a mechanic in herself with several properties you’ll come to discover. For example, after a while you’ll be able to jump into the air, and with a button press, transform into a cube and crush obstacles awaiting below.
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Not all of the available abilities surfaced in my demo, but I was able to transform into a selection of animals to progress. GRIS can mimic the characteristics of a bird to burst upward into the air or morph into a fish to dive underwater and jump through small, isolated squares of the wet stuff.
I imagine these will come into play in the full experience during chase sequences. Throughout these you are pursued relentlessly by a shadowy bird that can materialise at will, and it isn’t afraid to burst out of floors, ceilings or even out of nowhere if it means stopping GRIS.
Outsmarting this furry beast is a thrill, forcing you to adopt all of the things you’ve learned in a way that feels fulfilling yet seldom frustrating. I was informed by the development team that the bird acts as a primary antagonist of sorts, morphing into different creatures as it chases GRIS throughout the entire game. In other words, stay on your guard.
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My brief time with GRIS ended much as it began, our heroine stands atop a mountain staring out at the things she must soon overcome. My demo concludes with the same emotional resonance that pulled me in so quickly, ensuring I’m ready and willing to immerse myself in the final experience.
While it presents a platformer outing that’s simplistic in its execution, GRIS seems so confident in its artistic direction and thematic elements that it’s hard not to feel smitten by what’s on display here. Here’s hoping, come December, it can leave a similar impact.
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