Gris is a platform-adventure game by Spanish developer Nomada Studio and published by Devolver Digital. The game was released for Nintendo Switch, macOS, and Microsoft Windows in December 2018, for iOS in August 2019, for PlayStation 4 in November 2019, and for Android in April 2020. The game has sold over 1 million copies.
The game follows a girl named Gris, who wakes up in the palm of a crumbling statue of a woman. She attempts to sing out, but quickly becomes choked up and the statue's hands crumble, dropping her to the colourless earth below. After landing, the girl continues walking forward and discovers a number of strange structures that seem to be powered by mysterious points of light resembling stars. The girl can collect these lights to gain new abilities, such as turning into a block of stone, and creating new pathways made of constellations.
After reaching a central tower, the girl can travel to four new locations to collect lights and restore colour back to her world at statues resembling the broken one from the beginning of the story. These areas include a desert filled with windmills, a lush forest, underwater caverns, and a world with buildings made of light. Along the way she encounters various living beings, some of which help her on her journey, as well as an inky black monster which manifests as large creatures that threaten to consume the girl. The final power the girl obtains is the ability to sing again, which brings life to various plants and mechanical animals.
The girl eventually collects enough stars to form a constellation path to the heavens, but the final pathway is blocked by the creature, who morphs into a monstrous form of herself and swallows the girl whole. She wakes up in an ocean of toxic black sludge and swims to the surface. As she climbs a tower rising out of the ocean, the creature tries to pull her back. However, the girl begins singing and the statue begins to reform itself through the power of her voice. Just before she is completely consumed by the black oil, the statue comes alive and begins singing as well, banishing the creature and the sea of despair. The girl and the statue tearfully embrace and she climbs the final constellation path as the world is shown to be restored in colour and light.
If all mementos are collected, her childhood is revealed in a secret room. It is nighttime. A child Gris is in the meadows with an older woman, who we learn the statue really is. The older woman encloses a firefly between her hands then releases it to fly around child Gris. Then under the bright full moon child Gris and the older woman embrace.
Gris was developed by Nomada Studio, a Barcelona based company which was formed after a chance meeting between two Ubisoft employees, Roger Mendoza and Adrián Cuevas and artist Conrad Roset. The two met Roset while attending a going away party held for Cuevas who was temporarily moving to Ubisoft Montreal to work on Rainbow Six Siege. Roset noted to Mendoza and Cuevas that he was interested in working on video games, at the time the two were interested in creating an independent game but lacked the artistic skills, so the three decided to form Nomada Studios.
Intending the game to be "a mix of Journey and Ori and the Blind Forest", the game was designed with accessibility in mind. As such there are no fail states, a decision that proved to be challenging. Mendoza has described their approach as "If there's a puzzle you can probably finish it at the second or third try. When the puzzle is more complicated, we give the player options." Partway through development the team consulted with a psychologist about the game's narrative themes of grief and depression, resulting in gameplay decisions to echo the turmoil of the main character. An example of this is how at the beginning of the game the player is unable to jump which helps reinforce the notion that "something is wrong with this girl".
The art style created some unique problems for the developers. Since the game becomes more lively as players progress designing the early areas in an appealing way proved challenging. The team eventually solved this problem by taking inspiration from Iwagumi style aquariums. Another challenging issue was readability, which resulted in several level design and camera angle tweaks during development. Initially the main character's dress was going to change as more colors became unlocked, however this eventually proved impractical due partly to the camera angles. The game's title refers to the name of the protagonist, as well as the Spanish word for the colour grey.
EGMNow wrote that "with an arresting art style and admirable commitment to minimalist game design, Gris manages to turn a straightforward, often derivative platformer into something that feels far more special and important."
GameSpot stated "Gris understands intrinsically how magical video games can be and continually pushes your imagination until you're almost bursting with joy. The ways in which it reinvents itself as you gain powers and dive ever deeper into this world is truly special, and just as it knows exactly when to pull back the camera or introduce a new song, it's keenly aware of when it's time to say goodbye. Like a comet streaking across the sky, Gris is full of wonder and beauty and leaves you with a warm glow in your heart."
Apple stated "This spectacularly satisfying puzzle-platformer is a soul-stirring work of digital art — one that explores hope, grief and the triumph of piecing a life back together after tragic loss" and awarded it Mac Game of the Year in 2019.
|2019||New York Game Awards||Off Broadway Award for Best Indie Game||Nominated|||
|46th Annie Awards||Character Animation in a Video Game||Won|||
|D.I.C.E. Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Animation||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction||Nominated|
|National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers Awards||Animation, Artistic||Nominated|||
|Art Direction, Contemporary||Won|
|Original Light Mix Score, New IP||Nominated|
|SXSW Gaming Awards||Excellence in Art||Nominated|||
|Excellence in Visual Achievement||Nominated|
|Excellence in Musical Score||Nominated|
|Most Promising New Intellectual Property||Nominated|
|Game Developers Choice Awards||Best Debut (Nomada Studio)||Nominated|||
|Best Visual Art||Won|
|15th British Academy Games Awards||Artistic Achievement||Nominated|||
|Italian Video Game Awards||Best Art Direction||Nominated|||
|Best Indie Game||Won|
|Game Beyond Entertainment||Nominated|
|2019 Webby Awards||Best Visual Design||Won|||
|Games for Change Awards||Best Gameplay||Won|||
|Golden Joystick Awards||Best Visual Design||Nominated|||
|Titanium Awards||Best Art||Won|||
|Best Spanish Development||Nominated|
|The Game Awards 2019||Best Art Direction||Nominated|||
|Games for Impact||Won|
|Fresh Indie Game (Nomada Studio)||Nominated|
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