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Gord Review: Haunting & Daunting

  • Artwork is disgustingly and beautifully detailed
  • Fast-paced and constantly changing gameplay
  • Nice blend of different genres and mechanics
  • It takes just one small mistake to mess everything up
  • A little overwhelming at times

A PC code was provided to Zaaz for this review. "Gord" will be available on August 17 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

There comes a moment in a leader's life where they must decide to feed a monster a child or die fighting. A tale as old as time, right? 

"Gord" is a tough game that keeps you on your toes by blending together elements from management, survival type games, along with real time strategy and story. This dark fantasy, based on Slavic folklore, places you as leader of the Tribe of the Dawn as you work to travel across forbidden lands with a group of villagers and a few interesting leading characters.

Offering two ways to play between the campaign mode and custom scenarios, "Gord" will have you fighting to find moments of calm as you work to build your settlement through an unending list of quests. This game has a high chance of feeling daunting at times while leaving you frustrated. However, the satisfaction that crashes upon you as you finish each campaign is just the boost needed to keep you going.

Some experience required

This is one game that shouldn't be on anyone's list when it comes to an introduction to colony-management games. While "Gord" covers all the regular basics like resource management, aspects of faith, and focuses on village expansion, there is just too much to grasp for beginners. That said, the tutorial guide does help to negate the rise of anxiety that starts to bubble up by the second campaign.

Plus, each campaign is like little stepping stones towards progress. As you continue on through the map building different settlements, new buildings and resources are unlocked. 

Unlike the usual building management style games, "Gord" comes packed with a variety of creatures that want you dead and would love nothing more than to put an end to your expansion. This is where things start to become a lot more difficult rather quickly. Instead of just assigning a job to someone and letting the resources roll in, you also have to explore through the darkness around camp, all the while being prepared for oncoming attacks. There are things you can do and resources that you can use that will make this easier, but all it takes is one rogue villager to cause everything to collapse in a heap of wasted effort.

Not to mention, if you don't have a good foundation by campaign two or three, you will find it almost impossible to survive, forcing you to start from scratch.

Variety and choices

It's important to note that if you are wanting a focused start-to-finish colony build, campaign mode might not be your best choice. This is due to the fact that each campaign is set up around the story that is playing out and will end the moment the final goal is achieved. It does provide you an option to continue playing, but if that's what you really want, you are better off creating your own custom scenarios instead.

The custom option is great to use as a way to break through whatever slump you might be facing during the campaign, to better understand certain mechanics, or even challenge yourself. You also have the choices between a quick custom campaign that focuses more on four difficulty types: Causal, Standard, Brutal, and Permadeath. If you prefer having even more control, you are able to choose between a selection of primary objectives, the environment, intensity of raids, types of enemies, and so on.

Along with the diversity in options for the custom scenarios, "Gord" also uses AI to drive the quest system. This is one of the factors that makes this game a lot of fun. On top of the regular goal, you will be able to accept side quests and choose between two options for random encounters. Be careful what you choose to do, though, because chances are the result will have a good sized impact on your village.

Beautifully haunting

"Gord's" mix of gaming style is unique and interesting, but what really draws you in is the overall arc and artwork. The story elements are what surrounds each campaign, along with fluctuating graphic designs. Each round starts and ends with a 3D cinematic clip usually focusing on what the next object is going to be, as well as a big plot point during your journey between the two gords.

Once you are situated and working to achieve the current goals associated with your settlement, there are slight breaks in between that push the story (and your gord's development) along. These are presented with main characters focusing on smaller plot points. For example, instead of the cutscene where we are introduced to the powerful witch Lynx, we get small banter setting up why we should build a temple.

Both of these are great ways to help with the flow and progression of play, as well as adding little breaks between bigger challenges. However, it's the loading screens that elevate the dark fantasy vibes the creators were going for. Unlike the other presentations, which plays out as a back and forth conversation between characters, loading screens are haunting, still art images with a bit of text at the bottom. These scenes feature a voiceover as well, and by the time the audio has ended, the next chapter is ready to go. With that little bit of extra sprinkle of story into the mix, these don't feel like loading screens at all.

"Gord" is fast-paced with a bit of a learning curve that might deter a few players, but for the ones that stick it out, this game might end up in their most played. It challenges on levels that other management/building games don't really bring to the table. It also offers an exciting story arc that connects well with the gameplay while leaving detailed images burned into your brain long after you've finished playing.