Gord Preview - Oh My Gord!

Published: June 16, 2023 1:40 PM /

Previewed By:

Gord art depicting a tribal shaman standing outside of pallisade walls as two villagers look on over the top. Many monsters surround the shaman.

RTS games are a heavily explored genre, so how do you make it fresh? Well, one option is to set it in medieval Europe, have it heavily feature human sacrifice, and fill it with disgusting eldritch gods and evil spirits that are liable to turn your stomach. That’s very much the route that the developers of Gord have gone for, and we were lucky enough to get hands-on with the game to see all of its disgusting glory for ourselves.

What is Gord?

Gord screenshot showing several small wooden huts dotted around a grassy woodland area.
Edwyn is exactly the sort of person he looks like he is. 

Gord is a combo real-time strategy and settlement-builder. You spend your time building up a Gord, a base surrounded by palisades, tending to your villages, and sending excursions out into the swamplands surrounding you to gather resources or interact with the various elder gods and evil spirits that make their influence felt whether you like it or not. As well as managing the health of your villagers, you need to manage their sanity, which is constantly under threat from the dank conditions and constant dangers. 

If you couldn’t guess from the tone of the preview thus far, Gord is a very dark game, both visually and tonally. I think the first major clue to this was when a be-tentacled blob of disgusting flesh and pustules ripped a child from the ground and tossed it into its mouth, leaving a small leg dangling from its lips while it chewed. Clearly, this isn’t a game that shies away from depicting dark subject matter, so you’d better make sure you’re up for it before you get involved. 

Gord Preview - Story and World

Gord screenshot showing a page filled with information on traditions.
These pages help to tie the fictionalized world to the real one that inspired the game. 

By far, one of the most interesting things about Gord is the world they're building and the story they're telling. The game features a full story campaign that you can play through in single-player, and you have to guide your particular set of tribespeople through a visit from the king's emissary. This emissary is a broad parody of the sort of sniveling, petty-minded bureaucrats who ends up being the royal representative, and watching him suffer through the swamps was surprisingly enjoyable. It's worth pointing out that there are also some procedurally generated levels, but they're kept for the extra scenario mode rather than the campaign. 

One awesome aspect about Gord is the wealth of interesting facts you can discover. As you go through the game, you constantly receive pages with information about the different creatures you're finding and some info about the real-world parallels that can be found in Eastern European history. It adds another interesting element to the game to keep you playing, and it's especially interesting to see where a lot of these folkloric creatures we've become familiar with got their basis. 

Gord Preview - Gameplay

Gord screenshot showing several people standing around a very dark swamp.
I'm sure sending a handful of people alone into these god-infested woods isn't a bad plan at all. 

The gameplay will probably be most familiar to people who are fans of strategy or base-building games. You can access various resources around the swamp, and each level or scenario gives you a handful of settlers to start with. The first few minutes of a Gord’s life are basically spent collecting resources for the coming days and constructing defenses or resource buildings. Once you’ve constructed a resource building (i.e., gather’s hut, woodcutters shed, etc.), you can assign villagers to them to get them automatically running out and collecting resources.

This job system is a huge part of the game because it ties into your villagers' mental well-being; without them, you have no gord. Each villager has their own preferences and skills and jobs they’re best at, which makes them happy. Not only does this mean you will get better results from a worker assigned to a job they are good at, but it also plays into their happiness and sanity. It’s relatively simple to keep sanity topped up, doing things like keeping their path out of the gord well-lit and making sure you have a meadery so they can recover from mental scars by getting drunk because it’s the medieval period.

Gord Preview - Resources and Sanity

Gord screenshot showing a peasent bowing before an unseen deity whose shoulder we're looking over.
Praying to dark gods can only end well. 

Juggling resource gathering and your villager's sanity is one thing, but then you’ve also got to start exploring your surroundings, or you’re screwed. During my time with the game, several evil gods started making demands, with the promise that things would go very badly for me if I didn’t do what they said. That’s religion for you. These demands ranged from “sacrifice a child” to “give me two deer carcasses,” but they all require you to get to where the gods are physically in the world, dragging your corpses (or soon-to-be corpses) along with you. This makes it a race against time since not doing what the god asks is a surefire way to have terrible things happen to you.

Of course, you can take the gods on instead if child sacrifice is a step too far for you. Good luck, though. These elder gods we’re talking about here take a lot of punishment before dying. Even with the added benefits of magical spells, you’ll probably struggle without a literal army behind you. Luckily, the aforementioned magic system has more uses than just in combat. You can construct faith buildings to get your settlers praying, and this gives you access to a suite of magical abilities that can do anything from set stuff on fire to lighting up dark areas temporarily. It’s a complex system, but I didn’t get lots of time to play around with it since I was trying to get two deer carcasses to the next god before they ate my kneecaps.

Final Thoughts

Truth be told, it should be pretty easy to see if Gord is for you or not. The gameplay's art direction and general content make it clear that Gord is incredibly dark. If you’re the sort of happy-go-lucky person who prefers an upbeat sort of experience, you’re probably not going to have fun. By the same token, anyone into dark experiences who loves strategy and base-builders will probably be ecstatic. So much love and dedication are on display in this game that it’s liable to be GOTY material for the specific audience it’s designed for. It has a lot of interesting mechanics and an overly dark tone and should honestly win an award for “most disgusting enemy design.” If you’re anything like me, that’s the biggest recommendation you could give this game.

Gord was previewed on PC with a copy provided by the Developer over the course of 2 hours of gameplay.

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More Info About This Game
Learn more about Gord
Game Page Gord
PC, Xbox Series X|S
Release Date
August 8, 2023 (Calendar)
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