GRIS: a colorless world to fill

GRIS: a colorless world to fill


There is a phrase that has stuck in my mind for some years now. Keanu Reeves said it during an interview. I don't remember at all what the topic of debate was, but I imagine that the actor was telling delicate parts of his life. However, to the question "What is there after death?", He replied: "Only the emptiness that we leave in those who love us". Replaying GRIS these days, taking advantage of its arrival on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One despite having played it in the past on Nintendo Switch, these words were as powerful as they were unexpected.

I got them remember as soon as i passed the introduction, actually, once the production uncovers and shows its most poignant side. Because GRIS, unlike other works such as Paradise Lost, is anything but a video game that talks about mourning and the depression connected to it in a trivial way. In fact, literature teaches that pain is faced slowly, while psychology tells of mourning through its five phases. I prefer to think of it, however, through books, not being a psychologist. The suffering that someone feels, sometimes destructive and on many occasions even lashing, is only the prelude to what comes next. What takes shape, once the case containing the few still intact feelings is uncovered, is a fog that does not allow any color to be seen. The human being is used to seeing many and telling about them, simply limiting himself to walking along a difficult road which, because of the pain, leads nowhere, except to an agonizing and lacerated moment, which always reminds us of something horrible, connected to the deceased person.

When someone dies, they remain in the memories of those who survived them, because they are part of the torn filaments of those who are living with a heavy heart, trying to move forward. However, everything has become gray, colorless and devoid of light. There is only a slow agony that accompanies the pain, while the chasm, once filled by that heat, opens wounds that are impossible to heal, traumas that remain forever and scars on the soul. She proceeds with her head bowed, tears dripping copiously down her cheeks, her forehead cold and her tongue, which tries to accompany the words that one would like to say, is numb, as if the blood no longer flows. The breath is short, the mind darkened by fear of the unknown and the smile, which once drew on the face, has been replaced by an impassive grimace, which however hides screams that are impossible to hear.

Nomada Studio, the Spanish team that developed GRIS aware that it would have proposed a very different work from the others, was supported by Annapurna Interactive to create something unique. Mourning had already been recounted in Last Day of June, but such care had never been taken before in representing its sad phases, in an apparently fairy-tale world within the mind of a young girl bound by a past that is impossible to forget. She looks for a way to escape to embrace the memory of her deceased mother one last time, while she lowers her gaze looking for what remains of her of her smiles. Unfortunately, she is linked to a period which, in addition to having destroyed her, has dried up whatever was left of her beauty. GRIS's journey does not start from a ship or in a distant land, but from the palm of a trembling and cold hand. In front of me, both in my first contact with the title and  on this new occasion, I knew very well that I would have found myself in front of a cold marble statue devoid of feelings.

Because this is, after all, what the work intends to convey: an impalpable and impossible to understand reality, which does not give anyone discounts. When someone dies, feeling like this is inevitable: anger comes, tears come and then there is silence. The girl gets up from that palm with difficulty, walks and slips frequently. Tears continue to stream down her face, her voice trembles and her throat, lashed by her fatigue, cannot even swallow. She can't make any sound, not even the most inconsiderate and senseless. She continues with difficulty, holds herself up, and then there is a hope that suddenly appears, as if she was waiting for nothing else. It's the same that pushes you to get out of pain, because you can't stay still, forgetting to live. We need a hope and a new purpose. How, however, is that new hope that appears to be an unattainable goal to be achieved? It just takes patience, after all. And it takes time, a long time.

Each color of GRIS

Colors, as everyone knows, are divided into primary, secondary and tertiary. And each has its own importance. Many writers, over the ages, thought they knew how to create unique and indissoluble bonds, capable of involving the lives of others and sharing different and detailed stimuli. Love, when you lose someone, is therefore an important feeling when trying to move on. However, mourning is a great set of enormous sensations that all arrive in the same way and with the same frequency, darkening, often changing who is suffering and even forcing him to change his habits.

In GRIS, however, the path that the young woman follows to find herself is long and arduous, littered with memories and memories that she believed forgotten forever. In addition to representing the five stages of pain, the work of Nomada Studio enhances the discovery of suffering through sequences that contain excellent elements to reflect on. In fact, in the first hour of the game, there is an entire scene in which the young woman continues through a desert, resisting the wind that tries to push her away like a twig. This representation, in addition to representing a complex moment, indicates how the girl's psyche is totally in conflict. In fact, torn between the past and her future, GRIS is in a moment in which she must resist the elements, if she wants to emerge from the shadows of her mind and take flight.

Playing with it in a more in-depth and careful way, the production by Nomada Studio, as well as offering targeted scenarios to make the player feel like he is in a daydream, reaches absolutely high levels especially in terms of quality thanks to an approach that concentrates each of its characteristics to make him involved like never before. Thanks to the scenarios and atmospheres, the journey continues through this alternative world that takes shape in the mind of the young woman, who finds herself living with her fears and interfacing with the despicable realities of a world that she no longer recognizes due to the loss her. Probably used to seeing the light even where she wouldn't expect it, GRIS travels through various biomes. The desert, which is in the initial part of the experience, has dull colors without harmony. Therefore, an unwelcoming and not at all fairy-tale situation emerges: going forward, once she has acquired the ability to transform herself into a rock, the young woman finds herself resisting that impetuous wind that tries to prevent her from advancing.

It's a curious addition, because it actually opens up to another vision of the whole: resisting bad weather, both personal and external, to continue without stopping. A clear, powerful and concise message at the same time, which allows us to understand how little is needed for the young woman to be unable to resist the ruthless and unstoppable events that follow one another. White is a positive color, yet in GRIS it does not represent it at all, because it is actually devoid of shades.

Red, green, blue and yellow: each one represents a state of mind of the protagonist. Continuing in this world, the girl finds herself facing different landscapes, especially thanks to their differences. You go from the desert to a forest, and from it to an underworld inhabited by sea creatures. Certainly, the best part is the one with the moon as a backdrop to a castle to be explored.

A slow and unpredictable suffering

Returning however to the emotions that these places arouse, GRIS he moves in a confused land: the colors are scattered everywhere, scattered around and have no precise order. We need to put them in order, before it's too late, and give them a depth that is capable of bringing the young woman out of her own mind, now increasingly consumed by pain. On more than one occasion, as I advanced, I knew in my heart that GRIS would not have come out well from that situation, also because she would not have her mother back. The work of Nomada Studio, in fact, connects the colors with the five phases of mourning, amalgamating them in a way that they are clear and direct.

The world of GRIS, moreover preserved in a register, shows dream places, some of which are quite unmissable. The young girl's mind, although she is suffering, is a place of great fantasies and a lot of art, which manifests itself in a wild but absolutely convincing way. What she sees, if we think about it, is really the fruit of her mind: both the ugly and perfidious things, as well as the beautiful and absolutely unforgettable ones. It's like imagining black and white colors coming together, forming a soul as different as it is fascinating. And considering the expectations, no one could have expected better. Obviously, there were those who expected a different type of approach on certain occasions, but the final message, carried forward for the entire experience, was really too important to treat the rest with superficiality.

Returning then to the colors and their importance, GRIS remains on the classic but still relevant tracks that a work of this caliber would be able to offer. The young woman faces her present tooth and nail, even feeling guilty of her mother's death, while she tries to escape from her head, now increasingly darkened and totally difficult to control. As she travels along her journey, she then discovers new ways to change her approach to the world, now in total difficulty. Even if it's in his head, it's still fascinating, and Nomada Studio, working carefully in the production, made sure that each color corresponded to a city and a mood, so that every moment was uplifting, clear and moving.

The production, therefore, is not satisfied with telling the colors through interaction, but also so that the player sees what he has in front of why, and how to fill that world so empty. Yes, because GRIS feels a great affection for her mother, so much so that she can't cry if she reflects on their past, considering the sadness of her loss. Literature teaches how hard it is to move forward despite the slow decay of time and how complex it is to be able to capture every moment as if it were worthy of everyone's attention. In GRIS, however, that world inside the girl's mind is jagged and insecure: it represents her in all respects, defining her in a clear and fitting way, giving precious elucidations on what she is going through.

Why yes , in addition to being a sad story, GRIS is about a life that is in danger of being lost forever. Acceptance, which is her goal in the game, is just a beginning for her, who finds herself having to deal with the desperate loss of her mother and a madness that is tearing her apart more and more. So this is the memory, which in GRIS she acts by living with fear and remorse, extending a further discourse on her life and misadventures, among wounds so deep that they leave their mark at the end of everything. GRIS continues unabated, does not stop and imagines life beyond those stars that represent her sensory filaments, concentrated on making life more placid and serene. A goal that, however, could be impossible to achieve without the right preparation.

Stories from a past world

If on the one hand there is remorse for not being able to be with her mother, on the other, however, the need to let her go arises. Those who die carry an unfillable void and, considering how much we risk nowadays, it is always better to dedicate ourselves to others during their life. GRIS, however, teaches how to face mourning and its phases with the strength necessary to defeat any negative thought, facing life and its hypocrisies.

GRIS has almost given up life for negative and accessory things, but she realized she couldn't continue something she was at odds with. The great ability of GRIS, compared to other videogame works, is to give a sense of great humanity to what surrounds it, deepening its peculiarities and imparting, clearly, a lesson on recollection and memory.

Both important, they represent the focal point on which the entire story of Nomada Studio is based, offering a unique context also thanks to an artistic direction that has been able to enhance the entire proposed story together with the music. And it's not a trivial matter. GRIS, like it or not, is a work that interfaces with anyone who wishes to understand and absorb it. There is always hope even where we would not imagine at all, and this is already very encouraging.

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