Gord is a fascinating twist of complex survival systems and Slavic lore

Three warriors returning from an expedition left in double numbers. They bathe to soothe their wounds, they drink mead to soothe their nerves, and return home to rest until morning. Both physically and mentally rejuvenated, they gathered at the temple in the heart of the gord, where they were joined by two new archers and a scout. They gazed toward the eternal darkness enveloping the land around them, and together they ventured into the unknown – again leading to transgression.

Gord, originally introduced as a horror strategy game, but later modified as an adventure strategy title with elements of survival and horror, was the debut project with a dense system and very clever from Polish studio Covenant. The team includes veterans from many popular local outfits such as CD Projekt Red, 11 bit studio, Flying Wild Hog, and others. It shows; given what i have seen in Gamescom 2022sure there’s enough room for the elbows Gord to not only create an entrance into the scene, but also outshine its competitors and solidify itself as something truly amazing.

The events of Gord throughout a world afflicted by eternal darkness. Your mission is to lead the Tribe of Dawn south, unifying the lands you encounter on behalf of a shadowy king. In doing so, you will learn about the strengths, weaknesses, and personalities of your companions as you build your own relationships and build a society within it, which will thrive. evolve as you improve amenities, fortify battles, and support its inhabitants as they begin to have families of their own.

What’s interesting about all of the above is that every narrative element of Gord notified by a corresponding system, and vice versa. For example, the fact that the world is in a constant twilight is resolved by Gord‘S display mechanism, works similar to something like Darkwood. The map will only give you a certain amount of information, which makes venturing away from camp at the same time both appealing and dangerous. On the one hand, you need resources – on the other, you need people to actually use them.

Final, Gord‘S systems combine to form an interconnected and complex network of interconnected mechanics. It’s too complicated to discuss in the preview, but to give you an idea of ​​how they work together, you should take a look at how the game deals with dead and failed states.

Screenshot of Gord's game, in which one character holds a torch overhead and the others survey a corpse at night

Image: Covenant / Team17

As explained above, you’ll need to enlist as a warrior before you can explore the area around your lord – and since it’s a survival and horror adventure game, these lands Of course, it is home to many kinds of enemies. There are monsters from Slavic folklore, beasts capable of tearing you to pieces, and fellow humans who have adapted to darkness and are molded by it. It’s very unlikely that expeditions will go as smoothly as you might like, meaning you’ll lose some people from time to time.

So let’s say an archer is killed by a giant spider. That archer is not just an easily replaceable unit like in other games. The first time an archer is knocked down you can revive him, although he will suffer some sort of physical illness – maybe his movement speed has been reduced or he is now vulnerable to heart attacks . If he was defeated again, he would be killed, but it didn’t end there.

Any companions who see an archer’s corpse will immediately be affected through their sanity meter, which will deplete after encountering a corpse. This happens to varying degrees: If they loot corpses for resources in the field, they’ll take a light, almost insignificant blow. However, if it was one of their companions, the reduction would be more pronounced. And if they were related to the person in question – every character can have parents, siblings, etc – the damage to their sanity meter would be immense. You can bury bodies to prevent this from happening, but it is very time consuming.

Once a unit’s sanity drops to 0, they develop a mental pain that affects their ability to function in battle. Maybe they will forget the order or decide to leave the company. Either way, the compelling aspect of integrating sobriety is that one person’s actions can then have a domino effect on the entire team, resulting in a situation where many people die, corporate sanity. begins to plummet and suddenly you are in serious danger.


Image: Covenant / Team17

It also goes further. Humanity can be replenished at the Gord by visiting the meadow hall, though it can also affect those who don’t like passing through the darkness. For example, imagine a god-fearing ax wielder who has begun to regret the lives he has taken outside of his domain. He can ask to be assigned a mission in the church, allowing him to repent of his sins. If you’re smitten with him, his sanity may start to replenish itself. But if you send him out to steal the bodies of his fallen comrades, he will fear, anger, or some other emotion that puts the rest of the party in danger. There is a lot of micromanagement in Gord that proves its status as a strategy game in which you must always pay attention to not only what is on the screen at any given time but also what is not.

This also applies to your own gord. You can’t just take everyone out to fight; People need to stay in the settlement to maintain the economy, gather resources, and upgrade amenities like your temple, grassland, and bathhouse. There are a lot of small details to consider here, but I imagine you’ll get the gist – and all we’ve done is briefly summarize some of the mechanisms affected by the death of an individual. taste.

There is combat, which takes place across different ranges and considers different environmental conditions while acknowledging unique synergies between units. There’s an entire spell system that gives you access to spells, all pre-Slavic languages ​​that are implemented into the game with the help of a Polish professor. There are enemies that can penetrate your barrier while you are walking, enemies with unique properties such as a neurotoxin that causes a slowing effect when absorbed, and enemies of a more special nature that can could bring a COVID-inspired plague to your settlement if you don’t. don’t worship them enough (the only way to fight this plague is to isolate your townsfolk). Imagine the almost overwhelming complexity and importance of Gord‘S other systems – of which there are many – all work in parallel, all the time. Strange.

A spider attacks a group of warriors during a fight with a giant monster skull nearby, in this screenshot from Gord

Image: Covenant / Team17

Most of this is designed to support Gord‘S main story mode, which includes handcrafted levels deeply inspired by Slavic mythology, and even features a holiday mechanic that incorporates real-life Slavic celebrations into the game from time to time. appropriate point of the year. Working on series like The Witcher inspired this in many ways – as well as adding monsters from Polish folk tales, the team looked at how The Witcher 3 its slightly diversion from the more difficult origins of the first two Witchers game to attract more audience. This is part of the reason why Gord swings from horror strategy to adventure strategy and part of the reason why the game has now added an alternative survival mode called “custom scenario” which features over 1,000 semi-random character profiles , dozens of custom conversions, and more.

However, what is most interesting to me is that an important reason why developers rely on their legacy is not only to showcase it to the rest of the world, but also to promote it in the background. their own culture. Based on Gord Game director Stan Just, it’s often forgotten in schools – even out of mythology it might not be obvious to some that warlords are real structures from Polish history and Germany. He attributes this to Poland’s status as an orthodox Christian country, explaining that some of its long traditions could be considered pagan, before pointing out how his friend’s book It was banned for referring to the fact that snails are hermaphrodites.

“Because [according to them] it doesn’t teach us the right ways to have a family and gender, “Just tell me in a real demo about Gord. “Our teaching system is not great. We’re making a game that shows the middle finger for everyone. It’s our world, and we can create it from scratch.”

As it exists, Gord looked extremely impressive. Suffice it to say that a lot of the systems have been perfected and about the next year is to balance and fine-tune all the interactions between them. He explains that some of these systems are as small as a squirrel biting you for 1 hit in RimWorld – due to economies of scale, you don’t always have to get into these little concepts, but if you do, you’ll be rewarded for it.

As Covenant’s debut title, there’s a lot Gord. It is extremely ambitious and more than a niche, but after spending an hour watching the demo and discussing the game, I believe it has a lot of potential and promise. Maybe Just and his team will succeed in making their mythology and culture mainstream.

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