GORN Hands-On – The Fun of Being a Gladiator Without the Risk

GORN Preview

Who among us hasn’t watched a movie or show like Gladiator or Spartacus and at least imagined what it would be like in the Gladiator ring? While we may fancy ourselves to be a mighty champion, the reality is that most of us would probably wind up being the obligatory guy who soils their loin cloth before they even hit the arena sands. Luckily Free Lives, creators of Broforce and Genital Jousting, let you live out that fantasy in VR without the fear of pesky stab wounds. So it’s time to let the blood start flying and get ready. Off to the arena of GORN we go!

First things first, while the threat from virtual weapons will not cause any actual pain, there is a very real threat of actually hurting yourself while playing GORN. The recommended play area is 6.5′ x 6.5′ (2m x 2m if you insist on using metric) and this is one time where having at least that amount of space clear is actually important. Unless you’ve got T. Rex arms you may want to extend out that play area and beyond as much as possible. Having read some accounts of others breaking things around their house, I thought I was much smarter. I was wrong and within 10 minutes had slammed my hand and controller into a coffee table that was well out of bounds but probably should have been moved anyway. Not only did my hand hurt, but my fallen enemy didn’t get that mace to the face he was desperately asking for. Ample room isn’t just a suggestion in GORN, it is absolutely necessary.


“I know it’s just a game, but the VR aspect really brings alive that fight or flight aspect in a way that 2D games just can’t.”

Once the playing zone is free of all that can be moved it’s time to have at it. This is a trial by fire, extremely bloody fire. Instead of an array of weapons to choose from you start with just your bare hands and work up from there. As the deadly nature of the weapons increases so too does the number of opponents. Maces splatter blood with delight, flails tear heads from bodies and all the while I’m still just a bit scared to get hit as if I would be in real life.

I know it’s just a game, but the VR aspect really brings alive that fight or flight aspect in a way that 2D games just can’t. The main reason for the unnatural fear on my part? That would be the hulking menaces trying to tear me limb from limb. It’s not the physical stature that is the most menacing, although they do sport some impressive physiques. It’s rather the intentionally slightly wonky movements and physics. The lack of predictability in what’s coming at you is the key here. Yes, it can be downright humorous at times watching them lumber around and take each other out in a myriad of hilarious ways, however dealing with an enemy who is just as likely to slice off his own head as he is your own is a bit unnerving.

GORN ins1

GORN may have just entered Early Access but already the mechanics are well polished. Everything feels very natural as you crush an opponent’s skull with your weapon. The only issue that stood out was the chain of the flail passing through opponents. It’s still very early along so I’m sure that will see some attention in due time. Movement does take some getting used to; moving forward requires pressing the trackpad on the Vive Controller and bringing your hand towards your body. If done correctly it can mimic pumping one’s arms while running. I wasn’t that skillful and wound up looking more like I was just pulling on a rope. Whatever works, right?


“GORN already has all the makings of a must-own VR game.”

Despite my unfounded fears of physical pain in a virtual world, GORN is an incredibly fun game. Having developers that are experienced in the Early Access department is a big benefit as well. Requests for more weapons, varying opponents, better champions and an improved campaign have already been put forth on the roadmap. GORN already has all the makings of a must-own VR game. Come full release, I may need a shot or two of liquid courage to venture out onto the arena sands.

*** PC key provided by the publisher ***