Gris’ Ethereal Soundtrack Fits Together Like An Extremely Pretty Puzzle

Morning MusicMorning MusicSet your dial to Morning Music every day to enjoy friendly chat and great game music with other early risers. Coffee optional!

Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s daily hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-ass sounds they make. Let’s start today off slow with the soundtrack from Gris, Nomada Studio’s ethereal, contemplative platformer.


Maybe you’ve heard that playing through Gris is like playing through a poem, or a painting, or just a really, really pretty platformer. Those are all true—Gris has many layers, and is a must-play game because of it—but I’d like to add another to the pile. Playing through Gris is like playing through a multisensory puzzle, and that’s in large part a result of the soundscapes.

Composed by Berlinist, a Barcelona-based experimental group, the Gris soundtrack (YouTube / longplay / VGMdb) is best enjoyed tip to tail as one 79-minute arrangement:

Devolver Digital / ILLUMINAT3D (YouTube)

The way strings swell like the tide, the way quiet moments enjoy as much space as loud ones, the way motifs and melodies come back again and again and again and again—it all ties together into a singular auditory package that, by design, interlocks like a 500-piece jigsaw. It also doesn’t exist in a vacuum. One early level has you traverse across a desert, navigating sandstorms. The track “Perseverance” plays in the background. As the organs hit a crescendo, the sandstorms kick up, only to die down as the music does. It’s transcendent. Gris is chock full of moments where the music syncs up with the gameplay in stunning fashion.

Still, the entangled nature of Gris’ soundtrack doesn’t preclude individual tracks from standing on their own. Listen to “Windmill,” for instance:

Devolver Digital / Berlinist (YouTube)

It’s all quiet keys and soft tones. This is the type of song you’d put on in the background to read, draw, study, meditate, do yoga, consume mind-altering substances while staring out the window and contemplating existence. (Pleading the Fifth on that last one.) “Karasu,” too, is a singular tour de force:

Devolver Digital / Berlinist (YouTube)

As you can hear, “Karasu” isn’t quite as chill as “Windmill.” Rather than muted strings and keys, it’s all staccato notes under an urgent, layered composition. Of all the songs on Gris’ soundtrack, “Karasu” is the standout. You’d not be surprised to hear it in, say, a Mission Impossible film (or some other, lesser action flick). Still, you can hear wisps of the rest of the soundtrack. Throughout the song (1:15, for instance), organs similar to those in “Perseverance” kick up. The tonal similarities with the rest of the album are unmistakable, as is the instrumentation. “Karasu” works on its own, but also fits right into the rest of the OST.

And then there’s the two-parter, “Gris Pt. 1” and “Gris Pt. 2.” Both songs fit neatly into the album where they are—near the beginning and end, respectively—and are lovely tunes on their own merits, with haunting melodies and meticulous instrumentation. But, to bring it back, they work even better when listened one right after the other. The horns of “Pt. 1” fade into the piercing vocals of “Pt. 2.” In the second part, you’ll hear a deconstructed version of the string melody from the first, and then, bam, the noise section kicks up, complete with some seriously confident symbol crashes. Like the best parts of Gris itself, hearing these songs play in tandem feels like watching two puzzle pieces lock perfectly together.


And that’s it for today’s Morning Music. When you think of video game soundtracks that best work as one long arrangement, which come to mind? How about those that line up flawlessly with the game they feature in? Also, wait, have you played Gris? The game rules—and is brief enough to tackle in an afternoon. What are you waiting for? Go play Gris! See you tomorrow! (After you’ve beaten Gris.)

Staff Writer, Kotaku

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DISCUSSION

it’s a beautiful, contemplative and gentle work of art that could be dissected and discussed for hours; a true aesthetic experience lived through strong, responsive gameplay that will be with me for a long time...

...which is why this picture made cackle like mad when I first saw it hahahaha.