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Gord Review – A City Builder in a Dark World

Combining Slavic folklore and city building, Gord is for those who want to build a thriving community in a dark world that sometimes feels inhospitable. Put in charge of the fate of the Tribe of the Dawn, will you lead them to a bright future full of hope, or will you fail miserably, having everything taken from you by Wildfolk… or even worse? Truth is, anything can happen.

A focused single-player experience, jump into Gord’s campaign and you’ll be led through a sequence of missions that steadily teach you the game’s mechanics. You’ll first learn how to set up a titular Gord, then fill it with useful buildings and assign tasks to your small band of settlers. Eventually, you’ll learn how to upgrade these buildings, cast incantations and a whole lot more, opening up your options for any scenario.

Like most city building games, what’s important here are resources. You’ll need a steady supply of wood and reeds to build most structures, and you’ll also need food to keep people fed. Needless to say, you’ll want to set up your Gord near all of these resources. Even so, you’ll likely have to send your settlers outside of its walls to retrieve them, which can be dangerous. Thankfully it’s easy to assign guards to them if you wish.

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In fact, on PS5, it’s easy to perform most tasks, which is testament to the work
Covenant.dev and Team17 has put into the control scheme. It can still be fiddly at times – this is a city builder on a console, after all – but for the most part things are very intuitive. The worst thing is that your settlers sometimes just don’t seem to want to conform to your demands, but it happens rarely enough that it’s not too much of a frustration.

Each mission of the campaign will assign you various objectives, and many of these require you to leave the safety of your Gord and explore. For this, you’ll likely want some scouts and settlers trained and armed with weapons. Outside the walls of your Gord you’ll find a whole host of hostile creatures that will attack on sight, such as wolves, snakes, Wildfolk and some truly horrendous monsters that defy description. There’s sanity to worry about, too; let any member of your community’s mental health diminish, and they might simply up and leave.

But not everything you encounter in Gord is bad. You might also meet vendors that can sell you useful items or provide valuable training. Or perhaps you’ll encounter a lone survivor keen to join your Gord that has valuable skills. There are even shrines and other notable points of interest that may be of benefit to you. It pays to explore, then, despite your adventures always being fraught.

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One of the biggest challenges you’ll encounter in Gord is dealing with giant, nightmarish creatures called Horrors. These God-like entities are not to be taken lightly, though sometimes you’ll have to deal with them to achieve your goal. The question is, do you comply with their demands, sacrificing one of your children to them, for example? Or do you go away and put together a fearsome warband, hoping to put an end to their wicked ways once and for all?

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The latter might seem like a good option, but depending on the difficulty option you’re playing Gord on it can be very risky indeed. If you’re playing on easy and don’t mind save scumming then you can try your luck without any real danger. Play on a harder difficulty with permadeath enabled, however, and you’ll likely mull over your options much more vigorously. It’s nice that Gord gives you this option, though, making it welcoming to players of all skill levels.

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While Gord’s campaign is entertaining enough, some might find much more value by investing their time into Custom Scenario mode. Here, players can set up their own adventures, choosing everything from their goal, biome type, map size, initial resources, and a whole lot more. You can even choose to simply have free reign, seeing how long you can keep your Tribe alive. There’s something else that might keep you invested in the game as well: The Chronicle. If you want to learn all you can about this game’s world, you’ll want to find the pages that are often hidden in dark corners.

Gord isn’t the deepest of city builders, and its campaign can sometimes feel like an extended tutorial, but nevertheless, it provides an engaging mix of city building and exploration. With its sanity system and pesky Horrors that need to be dealt with, there’s not much else like this around. Jump into its Custom Scenario mode with both feet, and you’ll likely a find a game that will eat up hours of your time.

Gord Review – GameSpew’s Score

This review of Gord is based on the PS5 version, with a code provided by the game’s publisher. It’s available on PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC.

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