Gord is a new survival city builder that throws players into a grim dark fantasy realm filled with monsters and madness. Developed by Covenant, a team featuring veterans from acclaimed studio CD Projekt Red of The Witcher fame, Gord combines strategic settlement building with desperate exploration in a deadly procedurally generated world.
In this brand new title, players take on the role of elder of a tribe trying to carve out an existence in the shadowy unknown. The core gameplay revolves around gathering resources like wood, food and materials to construct buildings and grow your fledgling village, known as a “gord”. You’ll also need to research technologies, train warriors and venture out into the monster-filled wilderness to find new resources and equipment. It’s a constant battle to keep your people fed, sane and safe from the many beasts looking to destroy your gord.
Gord provides a fresh take on the city builder formula by ratcheting up the tension and consequence. Resources are scarce, the nights are long and one wrong move can spell disaster. There’s a constant sense of urgency as you balance expanding your gord with mounting expeditions to gather desperately needed supplies. It’s a true test of skill and nerve.
In this in-depth review, we’ll be taking a close look at all Gord has to offer. From its immersive Slavic folklore setting to its unforgiving survival mechanics, we’ll provide a comprehensive critique of this ambitious new title from AAA veterans. Can Gord live up to the legacy of The Witcher? Read on to find out!
Venturing into a Fairy Tale of Darkness
Gord draws heavily on Slavic mythology and folklore to create its brooding, doom-laden world. From dour witch huts to werewolf-infested forests, this is a realm plucked straight from the pages of a dark fairy tale. The art style matches the tone perfectly with gnarled trees, gloomy marshlands and stygian nights setting an oppressive scene. This isn’t a cheerful bedtime story – it’s a disturbingly grim homage to ancient legend.
Players take on the role of Bogdahn, wise elder of the nomadic Tribe of the Dawn. With the greedy King looking to expand his lands, Bogdahn leads his modest tribe forth into the unknown perils of the Forbidden Lands. It’s up to you to guide the tribe on its ill-fated quest as they face horrors both human and supernatural.
The main campaign is structured around short vignette-style scenarios, each with a clear primary objective. One early mission sees you desperately trying to save as many tribespeople as possible from a collapsing mine. In another, you’ll face the choice of appeasing a gigantic swamp monster or fighting it head-on. The story is steadily revealed through animated cutscenes and static character illustrations accompanied by full voice acting.
While Bogdahn is the main protagonist, other key characters also accompany you. These include the manipulative King’s envoy Edwyn, the aloof witch Lynx and a variety of tribe members with unique skills. Much of the personal drama stems from the conflicts between these companions as nerves fray and difficult decisions mount.
Gord’s campaign provides an engaging narrative backbone that compliments the core strategic gameplay nicely. While the overarching story of pushing into untamed lands isn’t revolutionary, the dark folkloric flavor and companions’ dynamic relationships make for an immersive experience. Just don’t expect too many laugh-out-loud moments – Gord trades squarely in creepiness, not cheer.
Building and Surviving Against the Odds
At its core, Gord revolves around gathering resources, constructing buildings and venturing into the dangerous unknown. It’s a tense balancing act as you juggle expansion, research, combat and your people’s overall wellbeing. Survival is never guaranteed in this ruthless realm.
The central gameplay loop focuses on collecting key resources like wood, food, herbs and materials to craft tools and erect new structures. Chopping trees provides timber while sending tribespeople to fish or hunt brings in sustenance. You’ll need to construct specific buildings like lumber mills, hunting lodges and herbalists’ huts to unlock additional capabilities.
With new buildings comes the ability to assign your tribe members to roles like carpenter, scout or healer. There’s no complex micromanagement – just choose a hut and your tribesperson will automatically take on the related job. Keeping people productive and happy is crucial as you push to upgrade technologies and grow your fledgling settlement.
You can’t hide behind your walls forever though. Braving the wilderness to gather rare resources and equipment quickly becomes critical to advancement. Leaving the safety of your gord is extremely perilous however, with deadly creatures like wolves, trolls and wraiths lurking in the gloom. Combat plays out in real-time, so you’ll need to balance warrior escorts and tactically pause the action to avoid disaster.
Adding to the challenge is the constant threat to your people’s physical and mental wellbeing. Pushing them too hard or exposing them to excessive horrors will rapidly degrade their sanity, causing characters to abandon your tribe or turn violent. Allowing regular down time and constructing morale-boosting buildings helps keep their spirits intact.
Gord truly punishes the unprepared. Harsh difficulty options like permadeath prevent cheap trial-and-error tactics, demanding careful planning and resource management instead. You’ll need to play cautiously and make difficult choices to overcome the game’s unflinching brutality. That’s what makes successfully growing your gord so rewarding.
Between managing resources, constructing buildings, assigning jobs, exploring carefully and looking after your tribespeople’s health, Gord delivers a compelling, high-stakes survival experience. Conquering its challenges demands patience, strategy and a willingness to take risks – this is not a game that holds your hand. For devotees of demanding city builders, that’s precisely the appeal.
Bringing a Gloomy World to Life
While Gord’s game mechanics are solid, it’s the striking visual presentation that truly brings its eerie realm to life. The graphics are dripping with dark fantasy atmosphere, from the murky forests to decrepit villages. Smooth animations and a fitting soundtrack round out the experience nicely.
Gord utilizes a very detailed art style, with gnarled trees, muddy trails, dreary weather effects and cluttered gord interiors. The environments strike a fantastic balance between realistic and stylized. Characters are a particular highlight, displaying lively motion and emotions during tasks like gathering herbs or weathering sanity loss. These animations go a long way towards injecting personality.
The lighting also deserves praise for blanketing areas in inky darkness or hazy fog, enhancing tension when exploring. When the rare rays of sun peek through it feels like a triumph. My only complaint is textures occasionally looking flat up close on things like clothing or grass. Overall though, this is one gorgeously gloomy fantasy world.
On the audio front, Gord keeps things relatively simple but effective. The soundtrack relies on haunting violin melodies and foreboding orchestral tunes to drive home the ominous atmosphere. The sounds of wind whistling, wolves howling and fires crackling add immersion when traversing the wilderness or huddled in your gord.
Vocal performances are solid, with characters like Bogdahn and Edwyn having distinctive personalities in their line delivery. I did notice some repetitive idle conversation lines however. Nothing too immersion breaking though.
Unfortunately Gord does suffer from some distracting technical issues at times. On console I experienced occasional framerate dips when lots was happening on-screen. Load times when entering new areas are also quite long. Still, neither of these problems are severe enough to tarnish an otherwise stellar presentation that brings the dismal fantasy setting to life.
More Than Meets the Eye
While Gord’s campaign tells a complete narrative arc, there’s plenty more on offer for players once the credits roll. With challenging settings, endless custom scenarios and hidden lore to uncover, Gord provides incentives to keep returning to its grim world.
The main story mode is structured around short, self-contained scenarios with clear win conditions. One chapter may task you with establishing a gord in a new region, while another sees you desperately protecting miners from a collapsing tunnel. Most scenarios take 1-2 hours to complete. While not wildly varied, the campaign provides a strong introduction to Gord’s mechanics and world.
Beyond the campaign lies the real meat – custom scenarios. Here you can fine tune settings like map size, resources, biome, starting tribe size and objectives. Play how you see fit, whether aiming to build a sprawling gord against the odds or test your combat strength against hordes of monsters. The possibilities are vast for shaping your own survival experience.
Adding long-term intrigue is the codex-style Chronicle tucked away in menus. This compendium of lore fleshes out characters, locations, creatures and historical events across several readable entries unlocked through gameplay. If you want to dive deeper into Gord’s dark fantasy setting, the chronicle offers plenty of hidden knowledge.
Gord also excels at incentivizing replays through punishing difficulty options. Simply completing a standard length campaign scenario on normal difficulty is an accomplishment. Cranking things up to permadeath mode, where tribe members die permanently, compounds the stakes exponentially. Prepare to fail repeatedly as you refine strategies in pursuit of mastery.
With scenarios tailored to your preferences, mountains of lore to discover and brutal challenges to overcome, Gord contains a surprising amount of content beyond its core campaign. Few games in the city builder genre can match this level of replayability. Just be ready to endure some painful lessons along the way.
The Verdict is In
Gord has garnered generally positive reviews since its release, with critics praising the high-stakes gameplay and immersive Slavic setting. However, some felt the grim atmosphere was overdone and controls could be improved.
Many reviewers applauded the risky core gameplay loop that keeps tension high as you balance building up your gord with venturing into the dangerous unknown. Sites like IGN and GameSpot remarked on the constant sense of urgency and vulnerability that sets Gord apart from more sedate city builders. The variety of Slavic lore integrated into quests and locations also provided an alluring backdrop.
However, certain outlets felt the developers laid on too thick with the game’s dreary tone. While the dark fantasy vibe suits thefolklore inspirations, some thought the “grimness” became one-note and even edgelord-ish at times. A few also took issue with aspects like permadeath being frustrating rather than fun given the challenge.
Most agreed mouse and keyboard play is optimal, with console gamepad controls feeling clumsy in comparison. The menu-heavy interface doesn’t translate perfectly to controllers. Still, many conceded the game remains playable on console, if inelegant.
So while not universally acclaimed, Gord has won over most critics with its tense survival focus and rich Slavic atmosphere. It may be an acquired taste for some due to its gloomy style, but most found it a compelling experience. Lackluster gamepad controls hold the experience back slightly, but not enough to ruin the dangerous joys of gord-building.
Into the Gloom – Final Thoughts on Gord
At its core, Gord delivers compelling strategic survival gameplay set in one of the most atmospheric fantasy worlds I’ve experienced lately. Fans of demanding city builders should find a lot to enjoy – if they have the fortitude to weather the darkness.
The central mechanics of gathering resources, constructing buildings, managing tribespeople and braving the wilds coalesce into an engaging loop. You’re constantly forced to make tense risk-reward calculations in pursuit of advancement while fending off disasters both mundane and magical. It certainly isn’t a gentle experience, but overcoming the odds provides immense satisfaction.
That said, the permeating gloom and cruelty of the world could easily overwhelm more sensitive players. Gord pulls no punches when it comes to dark themes and events – this is the antithesis of a feel-good adventure. I often found the developers tried too hard to achieve “gritty” fantasy, with the child sacrifices and excessive gore doing more to alienate than draw me in.
I also must reiterate that this is a game far better suited to mouse and keyboard on PC. The complex controls and interface translate poorly to gamepads. Gord remains playable on console thanks to strategic pausing, but lacks responsiveness at times. Consider carefully where you play.
Minor quibbles aside, I ultimately found Gord to be one of the more memorable and replayable entries in the city builder genre I’ve played lately. The fresh Slavic lore and unforgiving mechanics offer a new twist to settlement management. If you crave a stern survival challenge doused in black magic and folklore, be sure to venture into the gloom. Just mind your sanity.
Gord is a punishing yet engaging survival city builder that will appeal most to fans of hardcore strategy titles. With its Slavic folklore setting and tense mechanics, it's one of the more distinct entries in the genre. However, the deliberately dreary tone and poorly optimized console controls keep it from being an unequivocal recommendation. Players who crave high challenge and don't mind some repetition will find a lot to like. But the excessive gloom and clumsy gamepad interface hamper the experience noticeably at times. Approach with caution on console or if you prefer more forgiving city builders. But give Gord a chance if you want survival strategy at its darkest and most demanding.
- Satisfying survival gameplay loop
- Great atmosphere and Slavic folklore setting
- Challenging difficulty provides replay value
- Custom scenarios allow endless play
- Grim tone overdone at times
- Poorly optimized for gamepad/console
- Steep learning curve
- Can feel repetitive