I have never seen a video game with an art style like Gris: I’m used to games striving for realistic approaches, and while I still think cel-shading is underused in games, there are a bunch of examples of that. But Gris is doing something else entirely, with some sort of of pen plus watercolor style. It’s really striking: I’m not going to say that every game should try something like this, but more games should try something like this, and more games should try something different!

Once I got past that surprise, my next take was: Gris is a lot like Journey. It’s more of a platformer than Journey is, but there were way too many shared visual cues for that to be a coincidence: for my first fifteen or so minutes with it, Gris felt like it was trying to answer the question of “what would Journey be like if it had a little more traditional platforming mechanics sprinkled in?”


That’s the way the start of Gris felt, but once I got to the next section, that feeling of similarity receded: it was a plant-based area, which was a significant break from Journey’s landscapes. And Gris also started to get more interesting in other ways: each area adds a new mechanic in addition to a new environmental style, so it’s always changing.

And, it turns out, Gris is a lovely game on many levels. It’s lovely visually; it’s lovely environmentally; and it builds nice little puzzles out of its mechanics, giving you something new to think about at frequent intervals without having those mechanics either outstay their welcome or turn into a game about virtuosic execution. It’s a little longer than Journey, but not much (more like a two-evening game for me instead of a one-evening game); I enjoyed and was charmed the whole time.

I suspect that there’s something there thematically, too: I wasn’t really paying attention to it at the time, but listing to the Experience Points folks talk about the game, it does make sense to read Gris as a game with something to say about the experience of depression.


I wish I had more to say about Gris, but: more games like this, please. I really appreciate short games that are made with care and thoughtfulness. And, again: that art style really is something.

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