Escaping Grief

Gris is about a girl that is lost in her own world. The girl traverses through the different terrains as she battles with the difficulties that impose on her life. The various color schemes in the game highlight the different stages of grief that the girl experiences. Gris is a platform game with a beautiful 2D landscape that is detailed with intricate animation and supplemented with a moving original score. I will be live blogging as I play the game. I hope to capture my emotions and thinking process as I play Gris.

The game opens with the girl, kneeling in the secure palm of a giant hand. I see cracks in the hand; it almost looks like the hand is made up of rocks that were glued together. The cracks and splits of the hand that seems like it’s supposed to be her agent of security could signify her brokenness and loneliness. The opening color scheme is pink. The slow-paced music is accompanied by multiple female vocals that is supposed to represent her voice. But soon, her singing halts. Her voice is lost. Gradually, the cracks in the hands expand and the rock hand falls, as well as the girl. The girl falls down the sky for what seems like an eternity. The cool aspect about platform games is that because everything is 2D, directionality plays a big role in depicting the progress of the game. The girl falling down the sky, the downward movement, is most likely in parallel to her emotions. Her emotions are falling further and further down a deep rabbit hole where it is engulfed by tidal waves of the feelings of grief. 

PC: me

The girl finally touches the ground. She tries to get back on her feet but she struggles after a couple steps. She looks like she has hit rock bottom. She tries to grapple in her emotionally abysmal state. She manages to get on her feet and trudge the white, barren landscape. I feel like the white is supposed to signify the initial emotionless state when you fall into such despair—you don’t actually know how to react and feel because you’re swallowed by so many different emotions at once. The girl then changes her slow walking pace into a run. As a player, I can feel that she desperately wants to get out of her feeling of despair. I finally embark on my journey to trump the complex emotions of grief.

The beginning setting with the white landscape seems to look like a desert. I see desert pyramids in the background. The ground has numerous ruins, again reflecting her emotions. She walks more and more right when she finds that same hand that was in the beginning again. The hand is in the same position but the pieces of rocks are glued back together. The girl walks into the palm of the hand the entire color scheme of white is added with a tint of red. The red could symbolize the second stage of grief, anger.

In this new red phase, the music, so far, is just tranquil piano. However, there are certain parts when the rhythm turns very fast and the entire background is covered by blood-red dust. This may symbolize the short episodes of extreme anger when you fall into grief. The music during these episodes sounds like a combination of high-pitched strings and vocals—the tone of the music is pretty unsettling. During this red phase, the girl has the ability to break the certain surfaces underneath her. When the girl jumps, her dress turns into a solid cube, crushing the loose surface underneath her. This could signify our desire for using physical force when we become enraged. As I am playing more of the game, I can’t stop but appreciate the artistry, the score, and all the sound effects that respond to your movement. Everything is so detailed and feels so meaningful and original. The combination of these 3 things work together to set certain tones. This game truly feels like art.

PC: me

I think I have reached the end of the red phase. I find that hand again and jump into the palm. The color scheme suddenly changes from red to green. Humongous branches with leaves appear out of nowhere. I slide down the branches like Tarzan. I fall into a red tinted green forest. I hear birds in the background. The ground seems very earthy. The square shaped leaves of the trees morph back and forth into a right triangle. I am walking on the forest floor and I see something following me. It’s like an alive rock figure. It is very cute. Still in the green phase, I am in a massive temple-like structure and suddenly a group of tiny birds morph into a big bird that screeches at me and follows me. It chases me like a predator. In the stages of grief, oftentimes you feel like you are being targeted because so many bad things happen after another. You feel like you are being chased by a predator (maybe it’s a person or maybe it’s just a life force) that is preventing you from escaping your pit hole of grief. I feel like that is what the girl is feeling at this stage. Woah. Suddenly I soar through the sky with the bird in the back. Either my interpretation of the bird is wrong or the game is trying to convey, yes, although it may seem like the people around you are turning against you when you are in grief, they are—unknowingly to you—trying to help you back up. I think the game is trying to tell a message to stay hopeful and that the feeling of grief could blind you by antagonizing the people around you as a self-defense mechanism.

PC: me

I find that hand motif again but I also see a woman. Suddenly, the color scheme changes to a greenish blue. Also, epic music plays and it starts raining. I think the blue phase is supposed to represent the depression stage in grief from the color scheme, the tranquil music, and the depressing trope of rain. I go down a deep, dark cave. The level of detail and all the colors are so pretty. OMG, I just turned into a fish. I see this cool, pink-shell, glowing turtle. Still in the blue phase, I see the hand again. This time, I actually see the entire girl. The one before, I wasn’t to see the giant woman’s complete face. Now, I can. The big woman’s eyes are closed but quickly open. I am wondering if this woman motif is supposed to represent me: at first the stone woman was broken at first, but gradually, the stone woman becomes fixed, like the protagonist’s emotions. OH NO! This dark bird savagely destroyed the stone woman and is now chasing me. This bird, converted into what looks like a giant eel, chases me through the water caves. I desperately try to run away. The eel gets so close to eating me, but I miraculously get saved by the turtle I saw before. Close call!

PC: me

The color scheme turns from blue back to a pink-ish red. The ground is very floral. The flowers symbolizing growth may signify the final stage of grief, acceptance. You need to grow from your feelings of resentment and depression so you can accept who you are and move on.

Out of nowhere, the color scheme turns to the color I started with, white. I get swallowed by a girl—I think, a spiritual resurrection of the giant rock girl. I make my way up and find that same hand I first saw when I started the game. The same cracked hand. The cracked hand becomes fixed. The music turns almost all vocal. There is a cut scene of the girl singing. The girl has regained her voice! The physical rock of the woman we saw earlier then becomes completely fixed. There is an intimate moment between the giant rock lady (I think, a physical representation of the girl’s emotions) and the girl. I think the girl has finally come in terms with herself and her emotions. There is a burst of different colors. Epic music plays. The girl has finally escaped her stages of grief! The game ends.

PC: me

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