- Developer: Nomada Studios
- Publisher: Devolver Digital
- Music By: Berlinist
- Release Date: 13/12/2018
- Price: £14.49 / $16.99
- Review code provided by Devolver Digital
50 Shades of Grey
GRIS is the kind of experience, gaming or otherwise that really sticks with you. I have absolutely no qualms calling this game a piece of art as that’s exactly what it is – a beautiful, organic moving painting that is the creation of the Catalan based Nomada Studios. To perfectly marry such a striking artistic direction requires a suitably epic soundtrack.
Enter Berlinist, a fellow Catalan based group of wonderfully talented people who have created a score so opulent that at times it usurps the striking visuals as the star of the show. The music constantly weaves a parallel narrative to the minimalist story and creates such an atmospheric experience that you can, after no time at all, anticipate what is about to happen. It’s a truly wonderful thing and further demonstrates the games similarities to a piece of art.
The five hours or so that I spent experiencing this poignant parable were so engrossing, so unequivocally awe inspiring that by the time the end credits rolled around I was utterly speechless. Not only was I lost for words but I also found myself feeling a little uneasy. In no way is that comment meant in a negative way, quite the opposite really as I found myself trying to evaluate the deeper lying meaning woven beneath this most basic of narratives. You see, at its core GRIS may have what seems like a non existent story, focusing purely on the game play and jaw dropping style. However, the tale being told could perhaps be interpreted in many different ways, and I personally picked up on a few underlying themes.
Maybe this just reiterates my earlier point about GRIS being a piece of art and therefore the entirety of this experience, much like Van Gogh’s Cafe Terrace at Night or L.S Lowry’s Matchstick men, is completely at the behest of the person playing it and open to individual interpretation.
Whilst not inherently an easy title, GRIS does as much as it possibly can to utterly submerge you in your surroundings, and in doing so sweeps you away like a tidal wave. Our leading lady doesn’t take any damage and even the few boss set pieces, which were absolutely breathtaking in execution, offered little to no challenge and were simply a case of going through the motions, albeit a particularly beautiful set of motions.
Rarely did I find myself at an impasse as to where to go next and not once did I feel as though the flow of the game suffered because of this, which is incredibly important considering momentum plays such a pivotal role in keeping things fresh and exciting throughout.
The only real negative that I can take from GRIS is just how quickly the entire experience is over. By the time a ‘thanks for playing’ message had popped up, I was truly and utterly swept up in this magical world and just wanted to stay there forever. Along the way I probably took as many screenshots a I have in any game for a long time, in truth probably since the days of Breath of the Wild. I guess in hindsight complaining about the length of such a delectably short and sweet experience seems somewhat asinine, but had GRIS been 8-10 hours long, I probably would have had no option than to give this spellbinding title a fabled Fifield Five.
In many ways GRIS is the perfect demonstration that Video Games can be an art form, a way for individuals and creative types to express themselves and tell stories. On top of that it shows something just a little bit different and absolutely nails the execution, creating suspense, wonder and awe in equal measure.
At the end of the day however GRIS is still a game and so must be played as well as admired. For this reason, I’m delighted to say that it performs admirably in that department too. Our protagonist controls responsively, jumps well and by the time new abilities come to the fore, you would have more than mastered the simple yet effective puzzle elements of the game.
GRIS is utterly essential gaming for anybody who can appreciate beauty, whether it is in its subtle handling of colour and vibrancy or through the underlying tones of angst and anxiety.
What GRIS essentially is, is a really well polished 2D platform game but it’s not without its flaws, namely its really brief duration. That being said, GRIS is incredibly accessible and the perfect game to introduce non gamers to the sheer delight and escapism of this wonderful media of ours.
Verdict – Must Buy Title
One of, if not the most beautiful, engrossing gaming experiences.