Gris Promises a Beautiful, Nonviolent Adventure; and Honestly, I Vibe With That


Last week, Barcelona-based studio Nomada Games and publisher Devolver Digital announced Gris, a beautiful platforming game. Coming to the Nintendo Switch and PC, it features some slick animation and watercolor visuals that do more than please the eye. Captivated by its beautiful trailer, I quickly searched for the game’s press release to find out more. While there weren’t many details, the following line from Nomada Games’ statement struck a chord with me:

“Free of danger, frustration or death; players will explore a meticulous designed world brought to life with delicate art, detailed animation, and an elegant original score.”

That first line. The promise of an adventure without violence, without death, and without winning or losing. Just puzzles, platforming, and challenges that test your skill? The thought of an experience like that is refreshing, especially in an age where violence is the core design of most gaming experiences.

The last game that comes to mind which delivered on a similar promise is Journey, an experience that is wonderfully designed to make players crave exploration and cooperation rather than death and destruction. It’s an enticing experience with one goal, giving those interested a safe space to dive into it at their leisure. Journey is also the first game where I didn’t feel grief or anxiety playing with strangers online. As a game, Journey is memorizing from beginning to end without relying on aggression.

Don’t get me wrong, some of my favorite games are titles like Uncharted, Doom, and God of War. I’m just as quick to pull out the shotty or decapitate the next wave of enemies as the next person. Looking at nearly all of the games we play today, however, and you’ll notice that they feature a gun, brutality, or the promise of death. When you think about it, the idea of Murder / Death / Kill as a necessity for our engagement can be unsettling.

No one’s saying that we should get rid of violent games, but as a community of gamers we’ve become complacent with the idea this is the sole option for our entertainment. It inspires more developers to use it as their only framework for generating something successful and fun. In my opinion, a world with only games like that is boring.

More games like Gris and Journey are needed: that make it their mission to design their experience without antagonistic encounters. Games that promise something accessible mean so much; especially to fans who don’t want to experience harm, rage, or violence when such gameplay recalls different experiences for them.

Different experiences are healthy for the game industry, and I’m glad there are a few adventures out there like Gone Home, Monument Valley, and Firewatch. More games that intentionally leave violence out by design is a start, and there’s room for more. It’s great that Gris wants to take players on a more emotional adventure. It’s unique, and I for one am feeling it.

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