The best-looking video game of 2018 comes to the PS4 and while its gameplay might not be up to much the visual storytelling makes up for it.
When Gris was first released on Switch and PC this time last year we gave it a fairly mixed review. We did praise the gorgeous, water colour style visuals and hand-drawn animation though, as well as its wordless storytelling that still manages to tell a complex tale of loss and depression. But when it came to gameplay it was a less impressive experience, a frequently frustrating Metroidvania lite that could also be rather dull.
And yet despite that, we were very happy to see it’s already won a number of indie awards this year (as well as our own mini-award for best visuals last year) and is nominated in multiple categories at The Game Awards 2019. It got a nod for Best Art Direction, Fresh Indie Game (given only to first time independent studios), and Games For Impact – for games with a pro-social message. It thoroughly deserves all three nominations and we feel it has a good chance in each category.
As you’d hope, the game looks even better on the PlayStation 4, with higher resolution assets and a now uncompressed soundtrack. Given how lauded the artwork and music were even on the Switch that’s a welcome improvement, while there are also attempts to refine the gameplay and controls -which often made it difficult to tell what parts of the background were interactive or not. And yet it’s clear Gris is still never going to earn any acclaim for its gameplay, but sometimes – especially in low price indie games like this – that doesn’t matter.
That’s not to say that Gris is horrible to play, far from it, but the level and puzzle design is very simplistic, only appearing to be more complex and obscure than it is thanks to poor signposting. What exactly is happening in the game is left to your own interpretation, but you play as a young woman (the titular Gris – Spanish for grey) travelling through a dream-like world after having suffered some unexplained trauma.
Gris has a magic dress which gives her superhuman jumping abilities, which can be upgraded with addition abilities. There’s very little backtracking though and if you don’t like Metroidvanias as a matter of course than that won’t be the problem here.
One of the more meta questions posed by Gris is whether you think mediocre gameplay is worth putting up with for the glorious visuals and insightful storytelling. It’s not an easy question to answer and depends entirely on how you view video games and interactive storytelling. Whatever its flaws Gris has an emotional reach few other games can boast, and the beauty of its presentation is worth celebrating on any format.
CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL FULL REVIEW OF GRIS
Gris PS4 review summary
In Short: One of the best-looking games of the generation and an indie adventure with a serious but subtle message to tell… it’s just a shame it’s still not that much fun to play.
Pros: Beautiful graphics, with wonderful animation and great use of colour; equally good sound design and some subtle, thoughtful visual storytelling.
Cons: The Metroidvania elements are very shallow, simplistic platforming and puzzles. Background elements can still be confusing.
Formats: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Nintendo Switch, PC, and iOS
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Nomada Studio
Release Date: 28th November 2019
Age Rating: 3
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