At its core, mechanically, Gris is a fairly simple platformer. You progress through its world, unlocking new abilities that open up different modes of traversal, which allows you to reach new areas. But it’s also much more than that. Gris is a game about healing, about survival; not a game focused on the dexterous skill required to jump from block to block, but one that’s seeking to imbue every aspect of its design with the strength, vulnerability and perseverance required to reforge the pillars of a life after they’ve cracked and broken.
Even the most basic “video game” aspects of Gris has these thematic elements woven into them. The dress you wear is a shield against the world, your one last vestige of protection against the encroaching darkness. The new abilities you unlock are only accessed after moments representing intense emotional catharsis – a “breakthrough,” if you will, and the obstacles you face, the dark manifestations of our protagonist’s trauma, can’t be defeated in combat (there is no combat in Gris). Rather, they must be dealt with by learning how to use their tactics to our advantage, to work with them and through them to reach the light at the end of the tunnel.
All of these ideas are wrapped in a beautiful watercolor-inspired art style and an incredibly moving score. It was a relatively short demo (which you can watch above), but it showed me that while not an incredibly challenging game, it will surely be an experience I won’t want to miss when it releases at the end of this year.