by George Y. Kussumoto

I've never been a "gamer", but about a year or so I decided to buy a Nintendo Switch. I was completely ignorant of the so-called "indie classics", games that were developed from independent studios or individuals and with limited budget. I got hooked by the mixture of nostalgic pixel-art with modern game mechanics, creative and acid-humour that's hard to describe without raising some controversy. Pure joy and fun!

Gris is one of those gems that you need to change your perspective about games to appreciate it. Gris is a piece of art that happens to be sold as a game. Most games in the same genre spans 10 hours or more of gameplay and Gris could be completed in less than 4. So, it's kind of a short game and at the same time, it's too long for an interactive movie or anything similar. Somehow it manages to test the limits of the medium, at least in terms of classification.

Sensitive subjects are present in games, but most of them are family-friendly. It's way easier to find over the top violence or fantasy plots. Gris is not entirely direct or scientifically accurate, but it's a huge metaphor about the 5 stages of grief. Not exactly a popular subject, but beautifully executed.

Gris using the "block shape" mechanic

The image above is a game mechanic that I think it's the perfect allegory. Gris transforms into a rock-like structure that can break obstacles and resist to some adversities. It's not innovative, plenty of games have this kind of mechanic, but I doubt if they have the same depth in meaning as in Gris.

You'll earn this mechanic to transition between stages (probably, denial to anger), so you can reach further in the game. Anger is an intense and emotional feeling that we learn from experience how to control and use it. Sometimes as an escape valve or to wake us from too much rationality, the key thing is to keep it manageable. I hope this will not sound familiar to you, but if you lost someone that you care, you'll know where I am going to.

To lose someone is a painful experience that you'll overcome in your life, eventually. I don't think there's such a way to go through this situation without learning how to become a little more cold-hearted to some extent. Some might say that's a tough-skin process and that's necessary otherwise we'll be longing for someone our whole life. We get used to this feeling without necessarily becoming bitter. It's a friend that we acknowledge and accept, despite everything.

Gris made me think and remember the past. We are in a pandemic situation, so it's likely that a lot of people are going through this process right now. Sadly, it's true. But I hope they can thrive in the game of life.

And remember: it's dangerous to go alone!

~ 🤘