Gord Review – Dark, Chaotic and Nothing is too Far (PS5)

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For those unaware, Gord is a game where we, the players, are in control of a small band of explorers who, thanks to their acrimonious and obnoxious leader, are pushed beyond their limits in their endeavors to uncover treasures and gold throughout the Forbidden Lands.

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Gord has been developed by covenant.dev and published by Team 17, with the developers being comprised of a significant chunk of previous CD Projekt Red team members, who worked on The Witcher 3 among other projects. This is their greatest strength and they’ve thankfully played into it, with the environment and character models, especially that of the ‘Horrors’, seemingly drawing heavily from the dark fantasy land of Geralt and co.

The team have lent heavily into the dark fantasy genre here, with the standard fare swamps, tribes of warring factions, a world ravaged and destroyed, oh, and a sun that is dead with millennia having passed since the occurrence. Let’s ignore the science behind that snippet of lore, it is dark fantasy after all.

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Gord Dammit – Keep me Sane

As it is succinctly described on the Steam page, “Build to survive, conquer to prevail.” and this is the crux of the game. You’ll spend a lot of time building up your bases, called ‘Gords’, during each of the scenarios, but that isn’t enough, you’ll have to explore the lands surrounding it for materials, special items, quest markers and more, all the while trying to avoid encountering the local wildlife, or if you’re really unlucky, something far worse.

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The real time strategy elements of the game are in the same breath both standard and obvious RTS fare, as well as innovative and different. The standard and expected parts are the resource management, having your tribe build up the usual buildings in an attempt to gain wood, food etc, but then on the innovative side is the sanity meters. Whilst out exploring the disgusting and horrendous environment we find ourselves in, due to the Fog of War you’ll have no idea what you’ll be encountering, and that stress and anxiety is applied to your explorers, with light being the only way to fight the slow descent into insanity.

Allow your subjects to lose their minds? Well more fool you, as they’ll end up with brain diseases like brain rot before choosing to escape their nightmare and run away. Once they’ve ran away, that’s it, gone.

It is a mechanic that along with the rest takes some careful management, and with sanity being shared between the entire tribe, with one affecting others, it can quickly spread into all out disaster if you don’t pay close attention to it. Just to make it more difficult, pretty much everything affects the sanity of your tribe, so get used to quickly having to keep on top of their needs.

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Gord

The already mentioned ‘Horrors’ are drawn straight out of some Eldritch horror themselves, often mutated and disgusting in nature, they pose the biggest moral quandaries of the game, with them demanding something of the tribe and you, the player, to allow you to continue. Now this is rarely a nice choice, but when faced with either sacrificing a newborn (who in the case of being useful to the Gord, well, they’re not), and a fight that’ll more than likely kill most if not all of your other tribesman, it became increasingly easier with each request.

The developers don’t shy away from the nitty gritty here, with the audio fully leaning into the scenario, with bones crunching, and meat being flayed from bone filling the air. It is uncomfortable, but it’s supposed to be.

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The six to eighteen villagers you can have inside your Gord all come with their own stats, identities and the like, with some being better at logcutting, whilst others are supposedly better foragers. Except, the benefit of putting these villagers in their best fit occupations is minimal, and certainly not worth the trouble of carefully planning who is doing what and when, especially when all that hard work gets wiped out at the end of the next campaign chapter.

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That’s right, due to the tribe trekking across the unforgiving Forbidden Lands, the game demands that you start from scratch with each chapter, restarting your Gord and going through the same base-building routine each time. It can be said that you’ll quickly find a rhythm with each level, but the opposite is also true, the lack of variety hurts this aspect of the game, and once you’ve figured out a good routine, even the brief problems like weather and animals introduced that’ll stop you doing certain things at certain times isn’t enough for.

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For sure Gord has some lofty aspirations, and it even has some solid foundations, especially with the insanity meter and the lore involved, but it does fall short on a number of aspects that in this day and age simply cannot be ignored. Perhaps with updates to come the developers will realise there needs to be some more variety, both in the environments on offer and the gameplay on offer. Give me more of those sweet-looking winter environments.

Give me more situations and scenarios that are impacted due to external circumstances, so I have to alter my playstyle. MAKE it so that I have to think about my approach, because even though Gord is a amalgamation of an RTS and a colony sim, it doesn’t really excel in either.

5/10

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Gord was played on PlayStation 5 and reviewed on a code supplied by Team17.

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Written by Luke Addison

Articles Published: 441

Luke Addison is the Lead Video Game Critic and Gaming Editor. As likely to be caught listening to noughties rock as he is watching the latest blockbuster cinema release, Luke is the quintessential millennial wistfully wishing after a forgotten era of entertainment. Also a diehard Chelsea fan, for his sins.

Twitter: @callmeafilmnerd