Gorn VR is goofy virtual reality hijinks at its greatest.
It takes a simple premise and builds upon it without getting too distracted from the core gameplay experience. Gorn is made by Free Lives, the developers of Genital Jousting, so if you’ve played that you may be well aware of the sort of jocular game Gorn sets out to be.
In many ways, Gorn is incredibly simplistic. Step inside a gladiatorial arena, pick up a weapon, and swing it at whatever comes in front of you. Now available for PS4, it’s conversion has been well implemented and is suited to the living rooms where PS4s typically are.
Gorn is, as the developers describe, “ludicrously violent.” Blood spurts out with heavy inspiration from movie classics such as Kill Bill, body parts are dismembered and severed with wilful abandon. It is all in a cartoony, deliberately over the top manner, which evokes humour rather than horror or gore.
At your disposal are a variety of weapons such as swords, maces, batons, axes, and even the shields can be used to get at your foes. You pick up and hold each weapon with the PS Move controller’s triggers, then swing the controllers at your virtual foes. This is a game to be played with a clear warning to spouses, pets and friends to stay well away during play sessions. Walking too is based on grabbing then swinging your arms and controllers as if you’re doing a walk from a Monty Python sketch.
Combat is cathartic, with foes taking a few hits to put into a dizzy state. From there you must quickly take advantage of their temporary condition to get over to them and finish them off. But because this is VR, this requires actually walking over (or teleporting) to them, and bending down to land the final blows. It is satisfying, and a great way to get a workout.
Just to ensure that it doesn’t feel too real, Gorn features some wonky physics that can cause chaos in the arena. Weapons warp around a bit in your hand, and enemies ragdoll decidedly unrealistically, flying around at the slightest hit. It all makes for a laugh-out-loud comedy of gore, one which doesn’t take itself too seriously and asks you not to either.
Gorn is a game that absolutely requires you to move around, so you will need a fairly large space for your setup. You must also use two PS Move controllers, and after playing for a while I’m convinced that not letting you just use a Dualshock 4 was the right decision. Physicality is a massive part of what makes Gorn so enjoyable to play, in a way that sitting down with a controller just wouldn’t give you the same experience. The only downside to this approach is that it is relatively easy to get mixed up and turned around. Especially for owners of the first gen PSVR you should be careful where you step and where your headset umbilical cords are.
Tracking of the PS Move controllers was pretty good, though of course if you’ve come from other VR headsets you will be aware of the limitations of Sony’s hand-trackers. Occasionally it would teleport my hand somewhere unexpected, but luckily this isn’t a game about fine motion control a la Half Life: Alyx. Big, sweeping gestures are enough and the PS Move controllers match well with this game.
Gorn may be a one-note song, but that song is still enough to make you smile and release some tension of a long day locked up at home in quarantine. Sometimes it can feel like each session of a VR game is an extended commitment, but Gorn is a perfect escape for a shorter play session that will still make you feel like you’ve accomplished something great – or gory.
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Released: May 2020
Platforms: PlayStation 4 / PSVR
Genre: Virtual Reality, Fighting
Developer: Devolver Digital
Publisher: Freed Lives