One of the virtual reality titles that I’ve heard so many PlayStation VR fans asking for was something called GORN from publisher Devolver Digital and developer Free Lives. If you aren’t familiar with the name Free Lives you may know them from their other games such as the insane Genital Jousting and the over-the-top Broforce. After much wait GORN has finally arrived on PlayStation VR and so I had to see what all the ruckus was about.
GORN is a first-person arena brawler where you play as a gladiator facing off against AI gladiators to the death. It isn’t very unique looking at it from that perspective but what it lacks on the surface is made up for in the wacky, gory, over-the-top action that lies inside. To play GORN you’ll need to make sure you enter the arena with two PlayStation Move controllers in hand, otherwise you’ll be sent home until you come back with them. Sadly, GORN is yet another title that feels a bit worse to play on PlayStation VR due to the limitations of the Move controllers. I’ve said this many times in various other reviews but the lack of analog sticks on the Move controllers does hold some games back from being as fun as they could be and GORN is another one to add to that growing pile.
Because they lack sticks the only way to move around the arena is to point and pull yourself around it. There are no other movement options here like the PC version has so you’ll be stuck with it. It isn’t a bad control scheme at all it just doesn’t feel like you would want it to. Another weird thing about this version is that there is a visible grid on screen that shows up should you move the headset or the Move controllers out of view of the PlayStation camera. This was put here evidently to help let you know where you can and can’t move but in my time playing it showed up way too often and that isn’t the kind of thing you want to see when trying to immerse yourself in another reality.
So what do you do in GORN? Well the first thing I did was jumped into the series of battles in the game in the single player campaign. There is no real story here as all you really have to do is battle through one room of enemies after another in order to make it through to the end. Every level or wave you fight through can have from one to multiple enemies to face at a time. Enemies will start off weaker but as you progress you’ll start fighting ones with armor and even run into a few boss type enemies who have special abilities. As you can tell from these screenshots GORN has a very cartoon look to it and all of the enemy’s bodies are designed to be comical. The whole point of the game seems to be just to see how you can use the various weapons at your disposal to toss their ragdoll bodies around. That alone is one of the reasons to play this game because just seeing the strange ways they react to being hit can incite quite a lot of laughs.
As for what you’ll be hitting them with you have a variety of tools at your disposal. Swords, claws, axes, maces, spears, crossbows, guns, and more are all on deck here. No matter what you use every blow you land will leave marks on your enemies and you can even start tearing away their skin and dismember them complete with lots and lots of blood. Most of the weapons handled and reacted well with the Move controllers and they almost all have satisfying audio blows tied to them. I did have some tracking issues with a few of them though which was unfortunate. Despite how simple the game is I really enjoyed just beating up gladiators for the few hours this main mode lasts for but those seeking anything deeper here won’t really find it. There is an Endless mode you can unlock to continue playing along with a ton of fun modifiers to mess around with but whether that keeps you playing will really be up to you. I messed around with it for awhile but I don’t know that I’ll go back to it now that I’m done.
I don’t know if GORN on PlayStation VR lived up to all of the talk I had heard about it prior to launch but it was still a lot of dumb fun. On other platforms it probably is a better experience due to the Move controllers having a limited control scheme. Still though, for a mindless gladiator brawler with lots of cartoon violence it can be a lot of fun. You just may need to be aware of what all it has before you go in expecting too much.
*GORN is available now on PlayStation VR. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review. ThisGenGaming is an official partner of vrgamecritic.com where you can find all of our PlayStation VR reviews.
- Combat is gory, mindless fun
- Satisfying audio feedback
- Ragdoll physics can lead to a lot of laughs
- Lots of fun modifiers you can enable to continue getting more out of it
- Lack of analog sticks makes the PSVR version harder to play
- Had some tracking issues with certain weapons
- Combat isn't very deep