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Saying Goodbye in GRIS

Somewhere in the summer of 2018, I lost a good friend. He didn’t die or move away, or anything with such finality and closure; he just stopped answering me. I couldn’t admit that he was gone for a long time. Even now, it’s hard to believe. It was like singing a song you’ve sung a thousand times, only to miss a note. The difference was that as I kept trying to sing, I began to realize it was more than just one note. While my unanswered texts kept piling up, the missing notes grew to complete silence.

Gris, the titular protagonist of GRIS, understands that pain more literally. She begins her story by singing, her pleasant voice altering the very reality around her through some vaguely expressed power. Then, before the game can even begin, Gris loses her voice. She loses everything. She falls down to the dirt, surrounded by the ruins of her once proud world, and can barely even bring herself to stand.

… as I walked beside Gris in overcoming her loss, GRIS walked beside me in overcoming my own.

When at last I pressed the key to move, when Gris and I joined together in overcoming her grief, we began to explore a tragically beautiful land. We walked together through ashen ruins, windy deserts, and lush forests. We swam deep beneath the darkest waters and ascended to luminous gardens among the stars. Through it all, I often wondered, “am I even going the right way?” That question was deeply etched into my mind from all my years of gaming but GRIS showed me something different. “It doesn’t matter.” I realized. “What matters is that I’m going.”

I didn’t recognize it at the time but as I walked beside Gris in overcoming her loss, GRIS walked beside me in overcoming my own. Among all the deeply precious moments of GRIS, I find in retrospect that one particular moment resonated deep within me. While traveling through the forest, I was accompanied by a little person made of stone. I helped him to gather apples and he helped me to progress through a number of obstacles. When at last we parted ways, I continued to move on alone. It was sad to see him go but I would still cherish the time we had together… It reminded me of my friend.

Now I see myself in the place of Gris. Now I see my friendship ended, gone our separate ways without so much as a word. There may never be a day when I think of him without feeling a subtle pang of loss or a flicker of regret. Yet for all of the hurt, I continue to walk ahead. We never said it then, so I guess I’ll say it now. Goodbye, and thank you for the time we had.

David is an aspiring author and game designer struggling to master the art of time management. He enjoys nearly every aspect of nerd culture but none more than storytelling. Whether it's video games, TTRPGs, anime, cinema, or reading too deeply into the face cards of a poker deck, he finds endless inspiration and joy in exploring the depths of fictional narratives and how they reflect upon his own life.

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