Tuesday 25 June 2019

Gris review: The colour of happiness

Gris (PC/Mac/Switch) ★★★★ Age: 7+

Gris
Gris
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Some allegories are more transparent than others. It doesn't take a genius to spot the underlying theme of Gris. It's a delightfully presented world in which restoring colour to the beautiful monochrome vistas acts as a tonic to the main character's state of mind.

Even if we're not quite sure what's going on in this wordless, inscrutable land, the eye drinks in the painterly watercolours of the roiling desert, the crumbling ruins, the Moorish towers. The ear is drawn to the soaring soundtrack that interacts with your every motion.

Gris herself begins as a sluggish straggler, unable to move at pace across the 2D platforms. But as she recolours each portion of the land (and thus her mental health), she morphs gradually into a graceful ballerina, capable of arcing leaps and powerful dives.

Clearly, the inspiration here is Bafta-winning puzzler Journey and Gris invites many parallels with other indie games where aesthetics threaten to trump gameplay. It stays the right side of that line for the most part, with boss battles and platform mechanics that keep the player on their toes, even if there's never any real danger.

You could fault the brief running time of about four hours (though that factor never hurt Journey). But a brush with Gris is an experience not easily forgotten.

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