GRIS (pronounced like “grease” and meaning Grey in Spanish) was one of my favourite indie games of the last generation, so hearing the news that it would be getting a native new-gen version with 4K/120fps visuals was music to my ears and a stark reminder that it was high time to replay this gorgeous experience.
That time, dear readers, is now, and with a second playthrough under my belt not only has this re-release of Nomada Studio’s 2018 cult classic reaffirmed my adoration for the game but it’s also helped to rekindle my affections for games viewed firmly as “art”. GRIS is, after all, a moving artwork and never has that been more clear than now.
If you’re yet to have given GRIS a go, it’s a tough one to explain from a narrative perspective, revelling in ambiguity as it does. Playing as the titular Gris, your goal is to bring colour back to a mysterious and desolate world and ultimately recover your voice in a story that slowly reveals itself to be a rumination on grief, remorse, fear and ultimately self-actualisation. Polygon’s Charlie Hall penned an excellent piece on its themes back when the game first launched that’s well worth a read after playing through and digesting its themes for yourself.
When it comes to the game side of GRIS, what you’re in for is a fairly straightforward and incredibly chill adventure platformer that’ll see you make your way through a variety of 2D environments, solving light puzzles and making use of a series of gorgeous transformations that riff on Gris’ personal growth in the face of adversities. It’s free of fail states and rarely mentally taxing but compelling all the same thanks in large part to a number of interesting ideas and a malleable visual identity that adeptly complements what’s going on in any given moment.
GRIS doesn’t ask for much of your time, offering a 4-ish hour journey that you’ll eek ever so slightly more out of if you’re chasing trophies/achievements, but so many stunning views and memorable moments in time and stunning views are offered up in that time that every minute will stick with you. I envy anyone coming into the game for the first time with this new iteration, but even if you’ve experienced it before you’re sure to catch those feels all over again, no less because of the slick new visual treatment.
Running at an uncompromised 4K resolution at 120 entire frames per second (provided you’ve got the hardware for it), GRIS is a marvel. The painterly aspects of its existing aesthetic are only amplified by being presented in such a raw, high-fidelity manner. Anybody witnessing this game should be so lucky to see just one frame of its hand-painted scapes, let alone nearly 8000 of them every minute. I don’t often get excited about ports or remasters of games that simply up the pixel or frame count but this is one of those instances where the improvements made feel distinctly tangible, like you’re being invited into a piece of art with no velvet rope or plexiglass to dilute its splendour.
All that said, if you’ve played and enjoyed GRIS in the past – let it be known that this is undeniably the same game. While I’d enthusiastically advocate a replay to anyone, I wouldn’t go as far as saying that the 4K120 presentation is reason enough to double-dip in place of any of the many other compelling indie releases of 2022. If you’re fresh to the experience, don’t hesitate a second, but otherwise consider whether you possess the technology to get the most out of this new port and/or whether you’ve had your fill of what GRIS has to offer before now.