I love GORSD. I hate GORSD.
I love GORSD, because you can barely define it. It’s kind of, sort of, an indie esport in the same manner as Nidhogg, Divekick and Brawlout. Just as they have a ridiculously high skill ceiling, whippet-fast gameplay and all the multiplayer options you could want, so does GORSD. Or it could be a high-octane puzzler, each room a maze to be resolved and very particular tactics needed to overcome it. Or it could be a stripped down shooter: one bullet, barely any enemies, and rails to run on.
I hate GORSD, because I’ve never interacted with anything like it; you can’t rely on any previous game experience. It reminds me of my time with Skater XL earlier this year: you need to unthink how you have played other, similar games, and try to grapple with controls that are more gesture-oriented.
Okay, let’s try to explain it. GORSD chucks you into a 2D, top-down maze, and then shoves other enemies in with you. As you move, you will paint the floor where you have travelled, claiming it as your territory, while the enemies will do the same. The winner is the one who claims all of the territory.
You have one bullet, and you fire it with the right stick. Now, the best way to describe the bullet is this: you effectively ‘program’ the bullet when you fire it. If you fire the bullet while holding ‘up’ on the right stick, the bullet will be programmed to always take the ‘up’ path on a junction. Hold ‘right’ as you fire it, and it will always take the right path, and so on. The bullet now has a life of its own: if you want it back, you’ll have to go catch it; if you fail to catch it correctly, it will kill you; and it will keep going, mowing down enemy after enemy. You’re effectively in charge of two entities at once – you and the bullet.
I love GORSD, because this is insane. Every game is a pirouette from absolute chaos to moments of control, where you feel like you have – just about – grasped it. You might have caught a bullet just after it’s gone on a killing spree, or you’ve actually done something you intended.
I hate GORSD, because this is insane. Programming a bullet and anticipating where you, it and your enemies are going to be at every junction is the loftiest of any skill ceiling. You’ll get better by the end, but the control will never be fully there – humans are just not capable of that kind of multi-tasking and forethought. Often you’re firing your bullet where it might do the most damage, at a reduced chance of hitting yourself. That’s not control – that’s playing the percentages, and it robs a little joy as a result. You may well find yourself wondering if the game really needed to restrict the rules on number of bullets, the catching of bullets, or more.
I love GORSD, because it’s straight out of my nightmares. You play as a tentacle-worm hybrid, born out of a womb-eye, learning to become an ‘effigy’ by overcoming other effigies. You’re the monster, then, and while we’ve had Carrion and Sea Salt this year, GORSD out-squirms all of them. You’re best watching a trailer rather than hearing it from me, but GORSD is unsettling because the world is so tilted. The monsters have human faces and Pennywise-like deranged expressions. The music is otherworldly, almost sci-fi, yet the world is ruined and old. You will shed, grow and pop into different shapes. It’s like playing a seven-hour David Cronenberg movie.
I hate GORSD, because I don’t think I’m ever going to lose the image of a Space-Harrier-like dragon with a smooshed goat face. The developers, Springloaded, are almost too successful at finding my fears.
I love GORSD because it’s so swollen with stuff to do. There are 60 stages in the solo adventure mode, split across temples that are dedicated to the different Effigies that you will encounter. These aren’t all in the ‘Standard Mode’ that I’ve defined so far: there are variations in the form of Puzzles that are combat-free and timed, Deathmatches that require you to reach a kill total before your enemies, Hunter modes that casts you as predator and prey, and quite a few more. Each temple also ends with a Trial, a three-round bout that gets the pulse racing.
Then there’s multiplayer, which lifts a lot of the modes from Adventure Mode and allows you to play a default or custom battle. You’ve got up to four-player couch co-op and online matchmaking, and plenty of ways of playing them.
I hate GORSD because I wish it had actually done more. You open in a Zelda-like world, beautifully realised in pixel art, with levels punctuated with nonsense from the Effigies. Even the symbols and logos have been designed to intrigue. Ultimately, I wanted to know more about GORSD, the world, the Effigies. But, while information is drip-fed throughout, the temples effectively become lobbies for puzzles to play. The world diminishes away, and that’s a shame. A Zelda-clone, playing as – effectively – an octorok, while occasionally taking part in pitched battles would have absolutely been the squid’s tentacles.
There’s a lot to love about GORSD. It’s ugly-beautiful, rewarding and doesn’t put up with any of your crap. But it’s also unintuitive, and pushes the skill ceiling way up as a result. Some might enter a state of zen and master it, making it an indie esporter of the future, but mostly you will be hoping for good results, and that stops it short of being truly joyful.
This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox One console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.