is an indie Puzzle Platformer Art Game
from the Spanish Nomada Studio, published in December 2018 by Devolver Digital
for the PC and Nintendo Switch
. The title heroine is a young girl dealing with a serious personal trauma, the exact nature of which is uncovered throughout the game, as you guide Gris through a surreal and initially bleak landscape of her devastated psyche.
See Journey for a game with similar mechanics and Eternally Us for one with similar central theme and plot structure.
The game contains examples of following tropes:
- Air-Aided Acrobatics: The bird's scream blows you back, which is usually a hindrance, except once where you need to ride it to cross a gap (and another time for getting a memento).
- Bookends: The game starts and ends with Gris singing in the statue's hand.
- Colourful Theme Naming: "Gris" means "gray" in Spanishnote . The game starts in a grey, desolate wasteland, and it revolves around restoring color to the world.
- Cope by Creating: Gris copes with personal loss by singing. Notably, she cannot actually sing for most of the game (the "Sing" button is mapped, but only elicits weak gasps from Gris), only finding her voice again in the penultimate stage. At the climax, singing finally helps her to overcome her depression.
- Dark Is Evil: The main antagonist that follows Gris and tries to devour her are a bunch of black butterflies, which turn into a black bird, then a black eel, and finally a black version of Gris herself.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The entire game is this until Gris begins to gain various abilities that allow her to navigate the world.
- Design Student's Orgasm: Far more subdued than other examples, but the use of smooth vector lines and geometric shapes leans into this aesthetic.
- Double Jump: In a twist on the platformer formula, Gris doesn't start out with this ability, and in fact, it is actually the second special ability you gain, after turning into a block of stone.
- Downer Beginning: While grieving the death of her mother, the statue Gris was singing to crumbles, and she loses her will to sing.
- Expository Gameplay Limitation: If you've played Journey, you already know the controller buttons for jumping and for singing — however, using either command in the very first stage instead just brings Gris to her knees, as she is too devastated to do anything but slowly walk. Although she regains her jumping ability early on, she cannot sing until the second half of the penultimate stage. Before that, all you can get out of her are weak gasps — this is strongly implied to be because singing brings back traumatic memories for her.
- Expy: The developers have acknowledged that the denizens of the polygon forest are based on Kodoma and Soot Sprites.
- Five Stages of Grief: Each area of the game corresponds to a particular stage of grief: the initial grey area is Denial, the Red area is Anger, Green forest is Bargaining, Blue underwater level is Depression, and the final sequence (including the Yellow area where Gris re-learns to sing) is Acceptance.
- The black butterflies appear and follow Gris long before they transform into the bird (and later the eel).
- The game begins with Gris singing in the hand of the statue. The statue starts falling apart, and her voice is gone. In the final sequence, she had already learned to sing, her path ends in the hand of the fallen apart statue. The beginning of the game hints that singing will restore the statue.
- Gravity Screw:
- In the 5th stage, there is a horizontal line above which gravity is reversed.
- In other parts, gravity works normally on Gris, but the water often works in weird ways, such as stuck upwards or sideways.
- Gusty Glade: The first part of the 2nd stage has dust storms that blow Gris back.
- Hope Spot: At the end of the game, after you collected all of the stars and climb up to the top of the tower to ascend on the bridge of stars, the eel suddenly appears out of nowhere, turns into an evil version of yourself, and makes you fall deep into water, initiating the final sequence.
- Hub Level: Played with. At the end of each stage, you get back to the same place, which is upgraded each time you unlock a new color. You have to use the upgrades and Gris' newly gained powers to reach the next stage. While this allows you to keep track of the mementos you collected (or failed to collect) during the previous pages, it is impossible to go back to the previous levels, making it only a semi-hub level.
- It's All Upstairs from Here: Climbing upwards is a recurring theme. Most notable is the second half of the 3rd stage and the ending. At other places there are long falls.
- Jump Physics: You have a slight control over your horizontal direction while jumping. Later in the game you unlock Double Jump, with the added effect that after your second jump, keeping the jump button pressed slows your fall. There are also red butterflies that gives you a larger boost in jumping.
- Last Kiss: Gris, to the statue of her mother, signalling her acceptance of her death and being ready to move on.
- Monochrome to Color: Gaining new powers also adds a bit of color to Gris' plain, initially grey dress, and in turn, allows her to bring the primary colors back to the world.
- No Name Given: Technically, the protagonist has no name. Fans (and likewise this page) refer to her as Gris. At the very least, it's quicker to say than "the protagonist" and feels much more warm and personal.
- Remixed Level:
- Between each stage, you return to the same area with some differences each time. See Hub Level.
- The rainy forest you pass through after restoring the color blue is, in fact, the same area you visited after unlocking green - just with more platforms visible and accessible by double-jumping.
- Another recontextualized area is some of the blue caverns you traverse after having unlocked the swim ability and the color yellow, including (the top of) the icy caverns and the impressive water tree.
- The Reveal: Collecting every Memento unlocks a hidden scene that reveals that the woman whom Gris mourns is her mother, and the "stars" the player collects throughout the game are actually fireflies they caught together one memorable night.
- Ominous Pipe Organ: An organ music is playing during the sandstorms.
- One-Woman Wail: This is the way Gris sings.
- Scenery Porn: The game is absolutely stunning in its art direction and backgrounds.
- Sequential Boss: The Bird in the forest stage, who assaults Gris multiple times before she can escape. It is not really defeated, however, given how it is more of a manifestation of Gris's depression than a real enemy, and it comes back in later stages as the Eel and, briefly, as Giant Gris, before turning into a giant sea of black goo and almost swallowing Gris before it is defeated by her and her mother singing together.
- Slippery as an Eel: The black ooze that pursues Gris throughout the game takes on the form of a giant eel in the water stage.
- Super Not-Drowning Skills: Gris can stay underwater indefinitely.
- Tears from a Stone: The climax features the reassembled statue representing Gris's mother weeping.
- Too Upset to Create: The heroine starts out so broken by grief that she cannot produce anything but weak gasping sounds when the player presses the button labeled as "Sing". Her ability to sing comes back later in the game, after she overcomes her initial depression and anger, and singing then helps her work through her grief.
- Under the Sea: The 4th stage is generally water-thamed, and a large part of it is spent by swimming underwater.
- Wham Line: Impressively, GRIS manages to have one, despite being a game with no words. In the climax, just when a desperately singing Gris has been swallowed by the Darkness, a second voice — her mother — answers her.
- World-Healing Wave: When Gris finally sings, it has the effect of rejuvenating and restoring colors to everything around her.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: In fact, it's the only element of Gris's character design that isn't a shade of gray.