Gris: a tale of grief

Cole Shoemaker ’20, Opinion Editor

Ever since 2010, with the release of a game called Limbo, there has been a prevalent surge of platforming games with highly unique art styles, puzzles, and stories. Specifically, stories without dialogue. Games like Limbo and Inside, both developed and published by independent (indie) game company Playdead, have garnered more attention than the average platformer because of how they are designed. This in turn inspired more artsy folks to try their hands at crafting games, and revealing the true power behind combining the medium of video games with more traditional art formats, like watercolor.

Which is exactly the style of Gris, a game designed by new indie studio Nomada and published by old indie supporter, the company Devolver Digital. Nomada Studios was created when two old friends, Adrián Cuevas and Roger Mendoza, met up after years of working on triple A titles and ran into artist Conrad Roset in their home of Barcelona. Roset was itching to bring his watercolor art style to gaming, and the three formed Nomada Studios and began production on their first game, Gris.

“Gris is a hopeful young girl lost in her own world, dealing with a painful experience in her life. Her journey through sorrow is represented in her dress, which grants new abilities to better navigate her faded reality.” This the first thing one sees when opening Nomada’s home website, well, not entirely. This quote is underneath a beautiful illustration of Gris standing alone atop a tree which is also on top of a mountain, facing away from the camera, and therefore us, and towards the sun instead.

This single, gorgeous, painting sets the tone of Gris wonderfully. Gris (the character) has gone through a traumatic experience, and seems to feel alone in the world. Represented by the singular tree and being atop a mountain, both being symbols for loneliness or  solitude. Despite this, however, as the quote states, she is hopeful. This is shown by her facing towards the sun, a universal symbol for hope and happiness. She’s looking towards the future, to getting through this experience and growing as a person.
Beautiful hand-drawn animation and symbolism is fantastic, but how does the game play? How does it feel to run, jump, and solve puzzles in Gris? Well, according to sources such as Polygon.com and the Imagine Games Network (IGN) who got to play the demo, it feels pretty great. “At its core, mechanically, Gris is a fairly simple platformer. You progress through its world, unlocking new abilities that open up different modes of traversal, which allows you to reach new areas” Jon Ryan of IGN said.  The camera automatically zooms in and out so that the player always sees what is most important in that specific area, and while some puzzles might be a bit of a challenge, Gris was clearly designed so that anybody can enjoy it. The soft, relaxing music and fantastic visuals make for great companions as the player guides Gris on a journey through her own mind.

It seems like Nomada Studios is getting off to a great start as a new team in the field of game development, and Gris is shaping up to be a platformer unlike most others made before. If Gris is met with good reviews, then we can hopefully look to more artful games from the folks at Nomada.

Photo courtesy of IGN

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