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Gorn Preview: Beheading Simulator

/ Sep 27th, 2017 No Comments


When PAX West 2017 got too crazy, I needed a game that allowed me to vent all my frustration in a positive manner. That is how I found myself beheading my fellow PAX attendees in Gorn.

The VR gladiator from developer Free Lives offered some of the most satisfying combat I’ve ever experienced. The brutal fighting was heightened by virtual reality.

Appease Your Masters

Players assume the role of a gladiator summoned to fight in the arena mostly for the amusement of the rich and powerful, but also for honor and sport. For my preview of Gorn, I was strapped into an HTC Vive.

The goal is to take down every other gladiator in the arena. The most satisfying part of this is how your hits affect your enemies. Despite the cartoonish art style, body parts fly off and blood spews all over the screen. Severed heads of beaten gladiators can be used as weapons against other opponents after they are knocked off their bodies. The atmosphere is certainly unique.


Blood for the blood god it shall be.

Controls ran smooth for a VR game. Controllers determine movement of your in-game character. In order to move about in the arena, you must use the top pads of the controllers and move your arms in a crawling-like fashion. Moving your in-game character’s feet with your own arms sounds complicated, but you’ll get used to it quickly and it’s a good arm workout.

Clicking a button on the bottom of the controller makes your character make a fist. Holding this button down and swinging your arms will cause your character to throw a punch. Punching is very effective in Gorn, especially when you alternate between left and right jabs in quick succession. But using weapons is a lot more visceral.

Items on the ground can be picked up and used as weapons. It could be severed heads of enemies, but it could also be swords and flails.

To pick up items, players must approach it and press the button to make a fist. You must hold the bottom button of the controller in order to maintain your grip on the weapon. Then, you attack enemies in the same way you would with your fists, only now, your character will dole out a lot more damage and bodies will tear apart in more gory ways.

You can also toss items at opponents by releasing the button to clench your fist on the controller while in the act of thrusting your arm forward. This mechanic can be used in creative ways. For instance, I found rocks scattered throughout the arena and tossed them at my opponents to distract them before tearing them to pieces with an axe.

I found the best method to success was to stay in close quarters with enemies, throwing blows rapidly and blocking punches thrown by enemies. AI opponents did not seem ready for a quick succession of hits. If I happened to get hit (low health is signified by a rapid heartbeat and fading vision), I would quickly try to kill the enemy before he could get in another blow.

Gorn Multiplayer

Gorn also has a multiplayer element that is unique and interesting. Developers created a way for players to compete locally without having to own multiple VR headsets. One player wears the headset while up to two other players use gamepads plugged into a PC to take control of opponents.


Let us flail at each other and scream… as nature intended.

Players using the gamepads are controlling the minions in the arena, so they are far easier to kill. However, they can move around easier and faster. While the person wearing the VR headset may be better off flailing away at enemies, there is more strategy involved for the players using the gamepads.

The multiplayer aspect of Gorn was intensely fun and fast paced.

Gorn’d to Death

Gorn is a great example of what VR games should be. There isn’t much of a story and the controls are relatively simple, but it feels like VR is more than a gimmick in this game. It is a way to truly immerse players into the world.

Gorn is currently available on Steam through the Early Access program. The full version of the game is expected to release in 2018.


Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson

Associate Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Greg is a Nintendo fanboy who would cry if they ever went third party. He writes news, previews and reviews at Gaming Illustrated.
Greg Johnson

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