Gord Review - Sadistic Sims
Let’s kick things off on a brooding note. The world of Gord wants you and the puny legion of followers that you amass dead at all times. For years we’ve seen settlement-buiilders try to empower the player and build your skillset in such a way that you grow to thrive in your surroundings, but in Gord, there’s so much thriving, and at every turn the game intends to bury your nose in the dirt. Like what you’re hearing? Feeling masochistic? Then read on and discover why Gord might well be the game for you.
Gord, the debut title from Covenant, a team formed of a number of ex-CD Projekt Red developers takes much of the tone felt in a Witcher game, mixes it with gord (the slavic word for settlement) building, and a dark plot, that combines to become a constantly engaging experience that pushes you at all times.
The plot of Gord is all about survival. Thrust into a life or death circumstance, you must be the guiding hand that keeps your burgeoning civilisation, the Tribe Of Dawn, safe as you progress through The Forbidden Lands. It’s a brutal path, and moving from gord to gord is not at all easy, but as your palisades expand, the opportunities to connect with your occupants expand too. The relationships you build with them through experiences you have with them, from combat, to decision-making, or in the establishing of a new home, all underpin a narrative that is more personal, and a little less grand compared to works you’d expect from ex-Witcher developers. Some of the decisions you have to make are harrowing, with one particularly early experience forcing you into either a near-impossible encounter with an enormous monster, or appease its request and sacrifice a child. It’s a bad time either way, but one is certainly going to weigh more heavily upon you.
Gord’s gameplay loop is a simple enough one to get your head around, but it’s managing the various tendrils that can be the hardest part to master. Upon settling and constructing a palisade, much like an Age Of Empires game of yesteryear, your next priority is to collect resources, such that you can expand further. Within the confines of your palisade, you can construct a range of different structures, from basic structures such as a fishing shack, lumber mill or scouts tower, to military structures, and other advanced structures such as Meaderies and a Balia. Each structure you build supports the growth of your colony, and the increased chances of survival going forward. With your tribe constantly under threat of invasion by enemy tribes, or blood-thirsty monsters, let alone the range of illnesses, both physical and mental that can afflict members of your settlement, players will be constantly wanting to monitor their supply of resources, but also the mental health of the residents. Allowing someone’s mental health to degrade can set them over the edge, leading them to flee the encampment, or even turn on your other residents. The traumas that stem from this can fast-track the degradation of others’ health and the slope becomes slippery, so for as important as it may feel to build out your palisade, it’s also of equal importance to allow your citizens to rest.
Gord insists that you remain active though, and forces you to keep moving your chess pieces around the map, whether that is through the exhaustion of nearby resources, to side-quests that will emerge from time to time with pros and cons that prompt serious consideration, as well as the natural aging process that doesn’t stop for anyone in your party. Children grow up, adults grow old and eventually die, and with that, the party dynamic evolves constantly and the player needs to be able to keep up, and pivot with the shifts in the game.
With a lot of moving pieces on the board at any given moment, the systems of Gord, which fit naturally with a keyboard and mouse, feel quite clunky when played with a game controller in hand, and the game can quite often feel uncooperative with you as you attempt to position your cursor on one individual or position of interest, and yet the game tugs you in another direction. There’s a lack of polish in this particular respect and with this particular mode of input that makes Gord a more frustrating experience at times, especially when the game forces you to make more urgent moves.
Gord boasts a fantastic gritty art style that is quite striking, but it lacks a technical level of polish that consequently leaves the game looking a bit primitive at times compared to it’s peers. Skin looks a bit too reflective, character models are a bit basic, the environmental design pretty repetitious, despite the changing of seasons occasionally injecting a new lens to look at the world through. Much like The Witcher, the monsters design is one of the most attractive components of the game. The music does a sensational job of establishing the look and feel of the world, and while the various sound effects and even voice acting are fairly simple (and often excessively repetitive), they are still effective in conveying the necessary sensory responses from the player. On a performance level, Gord holds up well the majority of the time, though even some form of building is erected, or an invading party arrives, there’s always a brief stutter as the game renders what has just emerged for the player.
Gord will test the grit of those that play it. It’s not an easy game, even when you dial the difficulty back, in large part due to the many plates that you need to spin simultaneously in order to keep your budding community alive and in good health. There are certainly a lacking areas present with the game, but none that should deter you from exploring the dark world of Lysatia. Across ten levels, and with custom campaigns possible, and a deep chronicle to explore the lore nestled within, players will have a lot to enjoy.
Gord was reviewed on a PS5 with a code kindly provided by Team17