The road to UploadVR’s Best of 2019 awards starts here! Every weekday for the next fortnight, we’ll be revealing one of the ten nominees for our Overall VR Game/Experience of the Year, counting down to the reveal of our full list of categories and nominees later in December. Grab your umbrellas, because today we’re showering you in the gore of Gorn.
VR’s turn in the hot seat is coming. The concern over virtual violence will be a tough topic for the growing platform to wade through in the years to come, once headsets gain some serious traction. For now, though, we can enjoy a bit of fuss-free bloodshed before the media panic takes hold. Gorn is determined to seize that opportunity.
What hasn’t already been said about Free Lives’ fantastically frantic gladiator ‘sim’ over the past few years of Early Access? Gorn is the game that throws caution to the wind with a severed arm attached to it. You fight your way through arena battles in which meatheaded thugs serve as unwilling voodoo dolls, skipping and stumbling their way to assured destruction by blade, spear, mace, arrow or rock. There’s enough face-bashing and arm-snapping to make you wonder which VR game should really be called Boneworks.
That comparison is apt, given that Stress Level Zero’s similarly driven new shooter makes a full story-driven campaign out of its hot mess of mechanics. Gorn, on the other hand, contextualizes its endlessly entertaining tech demo, drip-feeding you new weapons that you’ll want to master even if they’re clearly less useful than older entries into your arsenal.
Not to mention that the game is mechanically incredibly sound. Don’t let Gorn’s YouTube-friendly sandbox fool you; these are some of the most convincing weapons you’ll find in VR, adopting a rubber-like feel that helps make up for the lack of haptic feedback.
The result is one of VR’s most moreish experiences, something that satisfies your thirst for blood with such relentless viscerality and amusement that you can’t help but come back for more. Every battle promises a mad scramble of happy accidents, stylish executions and hilarious mishaps, from knocking eyeballs from their sockets to beating bosses down with their own dismembered foot. It’s so ridiculous that anyone suggesting it might incite real violence would probably look a little silly themselves.
Even after regularly playing over Early Access, I tore through the game’s assortment of levels in no time and still head back in to keep my blades sharp from time to time. There aren’t many experiences that have that kind of longevity, especially outside of the rhythm-action genre.
So let the mobs come. Let them grab their pitchforks and torches and come knocking at the door, calling for VR’s blood. We won’t hear them; we’ll still be in VR playing Gorn.
Gorn is available now on PC VR headsets and will be coming to PSVR next year.