Gameplay Journal Entry #8 — GRIS and Facing Despair/Grief

GRIS is a 2D Adventure Platformer, in which you play as a girl named Gris who loses her voice at the beginning of the game and must go on a journey to not only reclaim her voice but bring back color to the world as it has become dull and gray. The game deals with issues such as mental health and facing despair as the character, Gris goes through despair in losing her voice and having to face her fears/despair in order to get it back. As the game progresses, you find and collect orbs of light, allowing you to gain different abilities that assist you in bringing back color to the world and finding your voice. For abilities/mechanics, you can transform into a block, which helps you not get blown away by the wind or by enemies in the game, double-jump, which helps you get to higher places, and lastly, the ability to sing, which allows you to bring life back to dead things such as plants in the game allowing you to traverse through the level. The abilities/mechanics of the game help convey the message the game is trying to tell of despair and conquering it since one of your abilities gives’s you your ability to sing, which’s allows you to bring back to life to the world and face and conquer your fears in the game.

One thing about the design of GRIS is that you cannot die in the game, which I feel makes sense for the game since it allows for the player to explore and focus on the story of Gris instead of trying to not die in the level. For the enemies, the enemy in GRIS is a big black shape-shifting creature that takes the form of a bird throughout the game. “The appearance, attitudes, and actions of characters have significant expressive meaning. Typically, enemies in popular commercial games are depicted as dark “others”, whereas heroes tend to appear muscular and, frequently, Caucasian” (Flanagan and Nissenbaum 187). The black creature in the game symbolizes Gris’s despair and fear and while Gris herself is not muscular like a superhero, the antagonist in the game is depicted and is literally a dark character who tries to consume Gris throughout the game but it’s up to Gris to overcome her despair. Eventually, you are able to escape and overcome the black creature by singing and are able to bring back color to the world again as you embrace with the statue you were separated from at the start of the game, which is revealed to be an older woman from Gris’s childhood in a secret ending. Overall, I think the message trying to told here by the developers is facing grief and despair and overcoming it with enemies in the game such as the black creature symbolizing Gris’s despair while her voice serves as her strength.

References:

Flanagan Mary, and Nissenbaum Helen. A Game Design Methodology to Incorporate Social Activist Themes. CHI Proceedings, 2007.

Lets Play:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8k_ximc8Og