Following the recent news, groups of people in the UK are restricted to a maximum of six people. So, it is just as well that GORSD only allows a maximum of four players, because you are absolutely going to want to play this with some friends.
GORSD – we’re unsure of the correct pronunciation as well – is a top-down local multiplayer battle arena game where players try their best to colour the board in their colour. By following the designated paths, players leave a trail behind them of their colour. Opponents can overwrite this by running over the same path, but to stop this, players have one bullet they can use to shoot opponents. Miss though, and you will need to retrieve it yourself.
But GORSD is also so much more: it is fast-paced, deep, tactical and incredible amounts of fun. There is also more than a hint of the surreal about its appearance.
The developers, Springloaded Games, take plenty of inspiration from Singaporean cultures. Many maps take place in and around long lost temples featuring corrupted deities. These deities have eyes that will penetrate deep into your soul when you first encounter them. I’m not sure how intentional the horror aspect of them is, but they certainly creeped me out.
It is done with a pixel-art style that, despite the ominous feel to a lot of it, looks gorgeous. Even at first glance you can appreciate how much time and effort has gone into not only the design of the levels, but everything surrounding them as well.
Thankfully, the deities in the multiplayer can largely be avoided. They will only appear as a dilapidated monument adorning the maps, and any levels that do feature them can be removed out of the playlist circulation. It is in the single player aspect you need to be wary of them.
That’s because GORSD also features a surprisingly robust single player adventure alongside the multiplayer. After birthing into some strange tentacled creature, you are whisked through a tutorial that will show you the ropes – alongside the deities speaking incoherent nonsense to you – before arriving at a run-down temple.
Doors are found all around the temple and entering through them will trigger the levels. Beat the levels and a flame will ignite above the door. Beat all levels in an area and you will unlock the boss door. By beating bosses, you can then progress further into the temple.
It all sounds very straightforward, but it is far from simple. Adventure mode starts itself on the normal difficulty, making you try several times before giving you the option to move down to an easier difficulty. For many people, this will happen inevitably, though those pesky deities aren’t afraid to make you feel bad for lowering the difficulty. Start succeeding again and you can move back to Normal mode, but the gulf between difficulties is a big one.
Your appearance also changes depending on the difficulty; you start off as a tentacled being but drop down to easy and you simply become a tentacle shuffling around the area.
If you really want to appreciate the art style, when roaming around the temple press the right trigger to zoom out and you will see all that you have uncovered so far. GORSD is an exceptionally well-designed game.
GORSD’s Standard mode requires you to control 100% of the map, but in both single and multiplayer components you will find a variety of different modes. Death Match and Kill Count both remove the need to control the map and introduce kill-based gameplay. But Hunter and Domination combine killing and map control elements for interesting variations.
Hunter is a round-based mode where players take it in turns to see how much of the map they can cover in their own colour in one life, with the winner being the one who covers the most percentage-wise. Then, Domination gives a player or team a pool of points and the objective is to whittle it down faster than your opponents. The more of the map you control, the faster it ticks down. Even if you control 100%, your opponents still have a chance to steal victory, if they are fast enough.
Also, unique to Adventure mode are Time Puzzles, and these are tricky beasts on any difficulty. You have a short amount of time to cover the map completely. There are no enemies in this mode; it is just you versus the clock. This time though, your bullets can help you cover the map as well. Considering your bullet is faster than you are, it would be in your best interest to use that to go longer distances and you take the shorter route.
Your bullets can be controlled, to an extent. Even after repeating the tutorial and spending a few hours with the game, this aspect does still feel fiddly though. You can shoot with the A button, but you can also control which direction the bullet will take by using the right thumbstick. Use this to your advantage and you can have the bullet take a left-hand turn at a fork in the path, whilst you take the right-hand turn. Whilst tricky to grasp, doing so gives a massive advantage against AI and real-life opponents.
Figure that out, and GORSD’s 18 achievements should be a breeze. There is a decent mix between single and multiplayer to unlock. In single player, there are achievements related to defeating each boss, and completing the entire game on different difficulties. Then, for multiplayer, achievements are simply for completing X number of stages, up to 1000. It may sound like a lot, but rounds can be finished quickly depending on skill, and they are a ton of fun.
GORSD on the Xbox One is an essential purchase for those looking for some local multiplayer fun. Rounds are short, sharp and sweet and having a full roster of four players brings just the right amount of carnage on screen. And then when they have gone home, the surprisingly entertaining single player Adventure allows you to hone your skills on tricky AI opponents, and the game doesn’t lose any of the same appeal. But, if you are anything like me when it comes to floating heads with big, bulging eyes talking gobbledygook, maybe play with the lights on.