Gray and Green by Granite Gear is a very simple and straightforward puzzle platformer. The backstory is as meat and potatoes as you can get: the world is occupied by cute humanoids who enjoy bright colorful things, an evil wizard comes along and takes all of the color away, and of course it is your job to restore color to the world.
So the general game flow works like this: the level starts, the world around you is gray, and there are little vials of color laying about for you to collect. When you pick up one of these vials the game takes the color and applies it to parts of the level that you’re on.
Now, some of these colors serve further purposes in the puzzle elements of the game. For instance, once you pick up the color red, red buttons and jump pads activate and become available for use. If there are any peaceful denizens on the level who have been grayed out, then picking up the color blue will make them active and they will usually assist you by triggering unreachable or time sensitive switches.
For about 90% of the game you’re basically just going on the most rudimentary fetch quests imaginable. Collecting the color vials themselves is extremely menial. Once you have unlocked all of the colors on a level, a door will appear and you can exit through it to get to the next area. The problem here is that the exit is usually on the opposite side of the map. So after you’ve cleared the level’s obstacles and summarily executed a few simple enemies, you have to backtrack over the now inert and repetitive portions of the level that you’ve just finished in order to progress.
To make this more infuriating, some of the background details are the houses of the little blue critters who populate the planet. These houses have the same doors as the one you use to exit the level.
There are two levels near the end of the game where there are a ton of houses with identical doors, and as you may have already guessed, the exit door pops up in the same place as these decorative ones, forcing you to check every single door on the level to try and find the exit. Absolutely, horrifically, inexcusably sloppy. I almost quit the game when this happened because I thought the door failed to spawn. Terrible idea.
Mechanically this game is far from perfect. The movement and jumping are stiff and clunky. This is unfortunate because jumping is a huge part of the game, and almost all of the jumps you’ll have to make come down to the pixel. The jump pads are also buggy, which makes moving around on the map with death just inches away a shaky proposition.
When you take all of this into account – the simple gameplay, childish objectives, broken design and unsteady mechanics – you have to ask yourself, who is this game for? It’s too difficult for a young child who’s likely to be frustrated by the unreliable and sensitive jumping puzzles. And if it’s meant for a teen or an adult who’s used to more difficulty and maturity it has missed the mark entirely.
Gray and Green would be an absolutely fantastic game for children aged 4-10 if it was tweaked a little and not dependent on mechanics that are intentionally frustrating. The game features catchy music and an appealing premise, but the execution is just plain wrong. Even the ending is hollow and unrewarding, and given the amount of sheer tolerant stamina required to reach it in the first place, that is just unacceptable.
That’s not to say this game isn’t worth playing; slivers of enjoyment can be gleaned from this tangled mess. Give it a shot!
Play Gray and Green on PC »