I’ve been staring at the cursor flashing on my screen for a while now, silently aggrieved by its cheerless, eyeless blink. I’m perilously close to my deadline, but I’m trapped in a mindless cycle of typing, hesitating, reading, grimacing, deleting, and starting over. What I want to say about Gris isn’t coming to me in fully formed sentences; it’s just snatches of sentiment coming in dreamy, ethereal wisps, a warm, gloopy mess of incomplete sensations and emotions. There are disparate words I can use – soft, delicate, fragile, beguiling, soothing, melancholic, hypnotising – but strung together like that, I know they’re unhelpful. I know I’m not making much sense. Which I guess is kind of fitting because, on paper, Gris doesn’t make much sense, either.
My god, it’s beautiful, though; beautiful to look at, beautiful to listen to, beautiful to play, although in truth, Gris isn’t played as much as it’s experienced. I know; I don’t like it when people say that in reviews, either. But for every hundred words I type here, I can show you a screenshot that’ll instantly convey so much more. It’s a truly masterful blend of form, flair, and function pinned in place with languid visuals, an evocative journey that sends you spinning through a story that never says a word.
Gris is a barely-there tale balanced on delicate mechanics that should, in essence, be dull to play but somehow isn’t. Initially, this world is cold and inhospitable, bereft of life and colour, hence its name (‘gris’ is Spanish for ‘grey’, Google kindly informs me). Sadly, so is our titular protagonist, too. Each step is sluggish, her pain physically and spiritually weighing her down.
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