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GRIS – platformer that paints a pretty picture

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Developer: Nomada Studio
Price: $5/£5
Size: 2.4 GB
Version: 1.2
Platform: iPhone & iPad


The App Store isn’t exactly lacking for visually stunning games, from Monument Valley to Sky: Children of Light. But even in such exulted company GRIS is truly outstanding to look at.

Nomada Studio has created a 2D platform-adventure set in a stunningly evocative world. As our intrepid hero embarks on a quest to restore colour to a crumbling world wrought in reds and blacks, it almost feels like the game has been painted rather than programmed into existence.

GRIS often pans right out to great effect

It might seem a little strange to start a review with a discussion of how a game looks. But with GRIS, the style really is the substance.

That might sound like a faintly damning statement, but it’s not meant to be. At least, not entirely. GRIS is a sedate, contemplative game that seeks to tell a story about grief and depression from an oblique angle. It does so entirely through meticulous world building and a bucket full of symbolism.

GRIS tells a story of grief and loss

It’s undoubtedly true that the inspiration found in GRIS’s visuals doesn’t extend to its mechanics. That’s not to say that this is a bad or even an ordinary game. Stripped of its lush visuals, GRIS would be a solidly put together yet simplistic platformer.

When you get down to the nuts and bolts, you’re essentially running from left to right (and vice-versa), collecting pips to form light bridges, flipping switches, and utilizing a growing arsenal of special abilities that are used to gate your progress.

Collect dots to build light bridges

We’ve seen these components executed countless times before, and with more ingenuity and depth at that. What we haven’t seen before is these solid mechanics allied to such a rich, all-enveloping world that plays so creatively with scale and color.

There are sections where you’re simply holding the virtual joystick to run to the right, and others where control is wrested from you altogether. But with Nomada Studio’s graphical fireworks going on around you, allied to GRIS’s impeccable sound design, it’s impossible to call the experience dull or unengaging.

Parts of the world are teeming with life

GRIS might not be for everyone. If you’re seeking arcade thrills or some kind of tactile challenge from your next platformer, this isn’t the game for you. But for anyone who appreciates beauty and artistry in their games, GRIS is right up there with the very best that the App Store has to offer.