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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

When I first began playing video games, I gravitated towards games with mechanics that were easy to figure out and that had interesting storylines and characters. Looking aesthetically pleasing and having a good soundtrack are bonuses too. While scrolling through Steam, a digital distribution service for video games, I came across an indie platformer called GRIS that checked all of these boxes. It boasted beautiful artwork and, rather surprisingly, little to no text. This was the first game I ever encountered that had almost no dialogue. There are no conversations between characters, inner monologues from the main character, or even a voiceover of any kind. Intrigued by how the game would tell its story almost entirely visually, I decided to give GRIS a try, and I was not disappointed. 

The game begins by introducing the main character, a young girl named Gris, who awakens to find herself in the palm of a statue of a woman. She attempts to sing, but after finding that her voice is lost, she breaks down. The statue crumbles along with Gris, causing her to fall to the ground far below. Thus, you are thrown into the seemingly colorless world of GRIS (as “gris” means “gray” in Spanish), where you explore as Gris using only a few basic controls. As you explore and solve puzzles, you are slowly given pieces of Gris’ story, and pieces of the world itself fall into place simultaneously. The game provides a good balance between the serene sequences and satisfying puzzles, and though it lacks danger or much action, the use of movement, perspective, and color keep you engaged and always looking for the next part of the world to investigate. 

What makes GRIS so compelling, though, is how it emulates the emotions that Gris feels throughout the story. It does so through the use of movement; you feel her despair as you plummet to the ground, her resignation as you sink down into deep water, and even fear and desperation as you are thrust into complete darkness. Through its use of color, creatures, and even the dress Gris wears, the game crafts metaphors of larger themes such as depression and trauma. The soundtrack only serves to elevate the story and these themes, as it is placed strategically at certain points of the game, rather than remaining throughout the entire gameplay and risking becoming monotonous. But the visuals of the game are what truly allow Gris and her story to come to life; look through some screenshots of the game to see what I mean! 

As you move through each part of the world and experience each emotional moment, you not only learn more about what Gris is going through, but you may empathize with her as well. Together you experience pain, grief, and sadness, but you also embrace hope and strength. Though you may begin your exploration of each part of the world by moving down into it, you always find your way back out by moving up, providing you with a symbol of hope and optimism even in times of affliction. While there are only a few hours of gameplay, its beautiful presentation of such raw human emotions makes GRIS a pleasure to play and certainly worth it. If you are looking for a relaxing game or a moving experience, give GRIS a try on your Nintendo Switch, PC, or PlayStation!

Allyson is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree at SUNY Oswego, and is a double major in English and Broadcasting with a minor in Spanish. She is the CC of her college's chapter of Her Campus, as well as the Secretary of the Women's Club Ice Hockey team. She hopes to one day become an author of fiction novels and collections of poetry. When she is not writing or on the ice she enjoys spending her time reading, hiking, and watching anime.
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