by Harshvardhan J. Pandit
blog personal video-games
Indie games are great. They experiment, they try new things, they care about what they want to be. Gris is one such game. It is beautiful. Every frame is art. And the gameplay is simple but thoughtful. It continues the excellent experience in a trend perhaps popularised by Monument Valley. Gris is about a girl (or a person) on a journey to mend their own world. Its open to interpretation for what the game actually says or what is means, but like all art pieces, its a personal interpretation.
As a game, gris is beautiful and a joy to play. It is a platformer with puzzles that all act towards completing the story. Though the mechanics are simple, the way they are expressed using design and interactivity is creative and well made. The core gameplay is running, jumping, performing a few special actions (without spoiling the fun in playing the game). And the environments are varied just enough to keep everything fresh and exciting when things change.
There were moments in the game when I simply stopped pushing buttons to enjoy the design and layout of what was on screen. There is a lot of variance in terms of shapes, designs, how they interact within the physics, look, and feel of the game. Everything feels as if someone has put their heart and mind and passion in to creating this, and it shows when enjoying it as well. One of my favourite moments was the mushroom tree landscape where each mushroom lit up whenever I jumped on top of them. It felt a little like a Studio Ghibli film I was playing. Simple. Beautiful. Magical.
One of the most remarkable things about Gris is that while the game stays beautiful from the first frame to the last, each changing element within the story and gameplay enriches the design and look of the game - just like adding another colour creates a vibrant pallette on canvas. Things started quite simple and minimalistic, and by end the game and I were both filled with a rich variety of objects that all responded to the central theme of gris.
I started playing Gris because it was acclaimed, it was said to be a different experience. I finished playing Gris with a personal connection to the game. I felt I saw a little of myself in several moments, I felt it was me within those environments. That I was the one taking a walk through my own mind and mending things and inspiring myself. And at the end of it all, I think this is what and why we call art as art - because it evokes things in us.