Mobile gaming has come a long way since the days of snake on a beat up 3310 and Gris is a perfect example of how beautiful the experience can be.
Gris is a platform puzzle game in which players take control of a beautifully stylised woman as she traverses a range of stunning environments. There is little in the way of story in the conventional sense, the aim following the woman on a journey as she attempts to retrieve her lost voice and with no dialogue or words, the story is open to interpretation. In order to progress through the dreamlike world, players must collect white star-like objects which form constellations that are used as bridges to new sections and in order to do this, a range of puzzles must be solved. This may not sound like much, but Gris relies on a thoughtful simplicity which makes for an incredibly charming experience.
Gris is played as a platformer, which like many on mobiles/tables is controlled with an invisible joystick on the left of the screen and an invisible button on the right. Although there are only 2 input methods, they are used remarkably well to use a range of abilities as you unlock them. I don’t tend to play many mobile games, mainly due to frustrating controls but those used in Gris are fluid and comfortable and an example of how it should be done. Much of the game is standard the standard platformer affair of moving from a-b, running and jumping but as the game progresses, more abilities are unlocked such as swimming, turning into a heavy stone block or floating. These simple additions are used to great effect in order to create some tricky yet satisfying puzzles that are innovative but never reach the realms of frustrating. Puzzles range from using the block power to weigh down or break objects, gliding through the air with precision timing or gracefully flying between pools of water and each comes with a new challenge and little repetition. Other than giving the controls of the new abilities, little is given by the game in the way of support, but the learning curve is beautifully balanced to allow players to work everything out from themselves, but also a fair range of secrets for those willing to seek them out.
When it comes to looks and style, this is where Gris shines with an astounding watercolour world full of tiny details. Upon starting the game, the woman is in a fairly colourless and bleak world and as she progresses through the 4 main environments, colour is used both for aesthetic and emotional purposes. Pastel water colours are intertwined to create a dreamlike reality and each of the 4 main areas have one prominent colour which works wonderfully well. From the stark reds of the rocky, desert-like environments to the rich greens of the forest area or the deep blues of the water sections, colour is used to give a real feeling to the world and works amazingly well. Much of Gris, especially at the beginning, is just moving between points but with the varied and enchanting background, this never feels like a chore. As mentioned before, the little details help to bring the world to life, butterflies and moths hover around dusty pots, insects move rocks from place to place and fish lazily idle by, all creating a fully realised living world. The soundtrack is for the ears what the look is for the eyes and is captivating throughout. The piano track is used to perfectly complement the visuals and further breathe life into the realms.
In terms of length, Gris runs at about 4 hours, which is a decent length for a £5 mobile game, but the Switch version will set you back 3 times that at £15 which is a little steep for the content. That being said, the only real issue with the mobile game is that some sections involve the camera zooming out a considerable amount which means on a standard sized phone, it feels like you are controlling a dot in the distance which takes a little away from the experience. Other than marvelling at the visuals and genuinely enjoying myself, my only other thought while playing was how much I yearned for it to be on my TV!
Overall, although short, Gris is a glorious puzzle game with stunning visuals and some wonderfully satisfying puzzles. If you are a fan of indie games or just want to play something a little different, Gris is a bewitching experience and is well worth a look.
Gris is a stunning experience which is a joy to play, it’s just a shame there isn’t more of it.