Gord Review - Gord Alone Knows!

Published: August 15, 2023 9:16 AM /

Reviewed By:

GORD key art depicting a red-haired woman weilding fire to face off against evil monsters

Dark Fantasy is a term that gets bandied around a lot these days, primarily by pieces of media that could only be described as dark if you were being charitable while comparing them to Hello Kitty. Gord is truly dark. Not edgy, I’m-offensive-so-people-pay-attention-to-me dark, but honesty-to-goodness dark fantasy.

This is a realistically grimy and dirty recreation of medieval life in Europe with a folklore fantasy twist that does mean sacrificing the odd human infant here or there. Strap yourselves in for this one. 

If you enjoy our perspective here, perhaps you'd enjoy seeing our review of Disney's Illusion Island. We also recently produced a preview of hit new 'Cozy' MMO Palia, which may be more your speed. 

Gord Review

Gord screenshot showing a man walking carrying a container with a woman behind him in a green hood carrying a torch

Gord is a combination strategy/settlement-management game, with the developers, Covenant.dev, having been founded by some of the team behind The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. That last spot on the resume does inform what goes on in Gord from a narrative perspective.

Let’s just hope that your favorite parts of The Witcher 3 were when you were dealing with horrific creatures in a rainy swamp because that’s pretty much exactly what you’ll be getting up to in Gord but for the entire game this time. 

Gord's Story and Influences

Gord screenshot showing a man clad in fancy clothing on the right of the image, with the rest mostly devoted to grass

The story of Gord takes place in a dark fantasy world called Lysatia, and you control a supervisor for Izydor II, King of Calanthia. It’s your job to see that the muddy peasants survive long enough to provide for the needs of the king and his weasely representative Edwyn.

Of course, those in power are not necessarily familiar with how things are in the real world, and it doesn’t take long before things start to unravel and the unseen world starts to rear its ugly head. 

Both the story, and the real-world folkloric elements that are presented in the game do a great job of drawing the player in, and it's honestly most of the reason to get into the game. You'll find yourself having to replay scenarios a few times with how difficult they are, and having new facts to discover and cutscenes/narrative to unlock was a big boon to player agency.

It's also just pretty fun watching the various character we follow through the narrative interact, with the King's slimy representative often butting heads with the wild witch character who teaches you your first incantations. 

Settlers Ain't Never Happy

Gord screenshot showing a medival village with various buildings covered by a layer of powder snow

The main gameplay of Gord consists of a dichotomy between crafting your Gord to keep your settlers happy, and exploring the wilderness to discover new resource nodes to access and find the various quests you'll need to complete to advance the storyline or objective. 

On the management side of things, you’ll need to provide their food and defensive needs, but you also need to have a solid base for your explorers to return to, as staying outside of the safety of the gord can not only cause injury, but mental strain. Luckily, there are many systems built into your gord management that make pre-organizing your workers pretty easy. 

You can cue up commands on any given worker, and combined with the ability to control the speed of time you're able to pause the game and cue up a lot of actions across the board, then immediately return your attention to whatever it was you were doing.

It's also insanely impressive how well the developers have managed to map a strategy title like this to a controller without it feeling unnatural to control at all. 

Exploring the Wilderness

Gord screenshot showing a man with a spear trying to stab a magic deer in the head

Exploration is where you'll probably end up devoting a lot of your active time, especially toward the beginning of a scenario. Your workers can't harvest resources until they've found them, and it's a terrible idea to just send your workers on their own into the wilds to harvest blindly. 

To that end, you'll need to have a scout, and ideally a soldier of some sort, out straight away, and that's a good thing. It's only by exploring the wilderness that you come across interesting encounters or strange and powerful trinkets that will make or break your success in the late game.

Exploring is also a very good source of money early in the game/scenario before you've unlocked a trading post or gold mine. 

Even more importantly than that, exploring the wilderness is the only way to find the Horror, an Elder God that hangs about in the background of almost every scenario in the game, occasionally doing pleasant things like demanding human sacrifice. While these folks are universally gross and/or scary, you need to find them if you want to have any chance of dealing with their bullcrap, not to mention their evil minions. 

Combat Makes an Appearance in Gord, Briefly

Gord screenshot showing a man with a spear trying to stab a magic deer in the head

Combat does play a part in the game, as you can probably tell, but for the most part, it’s that classic RTs move of clicking all of your units to go and attack at once in a lot of cases. There is more nuance to setting up your units, with each of the three types having an advantage in range, attack, or defense, but for the most part, you just have to train them up to get better at fighting and then hope they manage to hold there own when fists and tentacles start flying. 

There are some light RPG elements to the game, with each of your villagers being able to achieve levels 1 - 5 in various important life skills. As they perform a task they generally get better at it, but each person has their own quirks that can affect how much experience they get.

Some villagers can even be completely barred from getting any better at certain subjects, making them poor choices if you’re hoping to have a workforce that improves over time. 

Making sure you've chosen the best villager for each job is great, but you'll also need to make sure you're giving each villager an even turn in the right areas, or they'll be useless when the time comes to get their hands dirty. Even normal villagers can fight in Gord, so you're best bet is to make sure that everyone has had a chance to learn how to scrap before the Wildfolk come knocking down your door. 

Magic and Mayhem

Gord screenshot showing a level one temple which is basically just a stick in the ground made of rock

As well as the aforementioned combat and management systems, Gord boasts a pretty interesting magic system. As the supervisor of the gord, you can cast spells based on how much faith the gord currently has, in a system not too far removed from Black & White.

You have to set villagers to pray at a temple for them to earn faith, but each villager can only obtain so much, meaning everyone has to do it in between their regular duties. 

On top of that, you get access to spells based on the level of your building, with level 4 giving you access to something literally just called God's Ray, the closest thing to a nuke in a fantasy game next to Donald Duck. The other spells range from being able to heal your villagers to being able to call down mist to make them invisible. You can also take control of animals and have them do your bidding. 

Honestly, magic in the game is OP as hell, especially in some campaign missions if you know where the resources are mostly kept before you start. Luckily, on the other side game modes, this tactic doesn't work thanks to procedural generation. 

Extra Game Modes, And That Damned Chronicle

Gord screenshot showing an active village with various tool tips and HUD icons floating over them

While all 10 maps of the main campaign have actually been designed and have fixed points for story and resource elements, there is an endless supply of new games to play in the Custom Scenario mode. This mode lets you pick every element of the game you want to play, from resources to which god you're dealing with, as well as your own objective, and then it'll procedurally generate a map for you to play on. 

This ode is a great use of procedural generation, and it makes the game nearly endless to play thanks to just how many options you're given control over. You could turn off all hazards and just burn through the tech tree, you could make it so your only goal in life is to become the servant of a giant spikey worm monster. Whatever floats your boat! It's a fantastic addition to the game that really brings the game to life. 

One final important factor of note is The Chronicle. As you play through Gord, you can stumble across pages sitting on the ground, typically found during exploration of the wilds. These pages will fill in the background details of the world you're inhabiting, the people there, and various aspects of their culture and customs. It's incredibly addictive, and I kept coming back just to see what else I would unlock.

Covenant.dev has managed to create a sterling piece of fantasy worldbuilding here, and the world they've created feels like it has more to give than we've seen even here. 

The Verdict

Gord screenshot showing a trade off choice with art of a mad leading an oxen with a lot fo text on the right side

Like coffee, Gord will be too dark and difficult for some, but for those who crave a challenge and relish the gross and grim, it's a welcome sight. Not only is it a genuinely challenging fantasy strategy game, but it mixes in a fantastic management game with some of the best controller mapping for the genre we've ever seen.

The storyline is interesting, and the world-building is top-notch, even with a handful of strange bugs left around the place. Any dark fantasy or strategy fan needs to play this one, though fans of Cozy-em-ups like Palia might want to stay away. 

Gord was reviewed on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the Developer over the course of approx 27 hours of gameplay - all screenshots were taken during the process of review

Review Summary

Gord won't be for everyone, but its dark tone and high difficulty are worth working through for the top-notch world-building on display here. (Review Policy)


  • High-quality world-building
  • Insanely intuitive controls
  • Challenging and meaty campaign
  • Custom scenario mode is endless fun


  • One or two bugs


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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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