Dark fantasy strategy game Gord looks like a Diablo town manager

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Remember the crappy little starting town in Diablo 2? It’s an encampment, technically: A few tents and wagons with a wall to keep out skeletons. Now imagine that instead of a hero passing through on their way to fight the devil, you’re the mayor of that awful place. That’s the scenario in Gord, more or less.

Managing a Slavic folklore-inspired dark fantasy town doesn’t look simple or easy, mind you. From the look of the new Gord gameplay video embedded above, it’s as thankless a job as running an ice age city in Frostpunk, and there’s a lot to it: resource gathering, urban design, citizen management, and some RPG adventuring and combat.

We mostly see adventuring in the new 16-minute gameplay video, in which Stan Just, a former Witcher 3 producer who’s now CEO of Gord developer Covenant, walks us through a basic quest. His town’s subjects are mad about poisoned eggs in the swamp, which prompts him to take a party into the muck to kill “foulspawn.”

The generic-feeling quest is a bit of a letdown, but perhaps the interesting part of Gord is not the monsters but the people. Your subjects have strengths (“fighting flair,” “furiosity”) and weaknesses (“exploring incapability,” “boiling blood”), as well as varying experience in tasks such as mining, fighting, and food preparation. They can be gathered into parties, arranged in tactical formation, and clicked out into the wilds beyond the town to find treasure and fight monsters. Aside from bodily damage and death, your subjects can experience psychological damage as a result of all the dark fantasy violence they deal with, especially when someone they’re related to is involved in whatever gooey beast encounter caused the trauma. Keeping your townsfolk both alive and at least somewhat rational could be tricky.

The pausable realtime combat, on the other hand, is “very straightforward,” as Just puts it. Characters attack automatically, and always use the best of their two attacks for the situation. Your main job, it looks like, is to determine the best way to position your subjects, although you do have direct control over spellcasting. 

There are 18 spells in Gord, and they come in utility, support, and offensive flavors. Support spells include “Focus,” “Haste,” “Rejuvenate,” while Offensive spells include “Sap,” “Entangle,” “Infest,” and other insect and disease-themed incantations—it’s familiar-looking fantasy RPG stuff.

Gord will include a campaign with “hand-crafted” maps that tell a story, as well as a custom scenario mode, where the world’s size and resource richness are customizable. The new video doesn’t spend much time on the town building aspect of Gord, and I’m somewhat more interested in that than the adventuring—maybe it’ll be the subject of the next commentary video. 

Covenant plans to release Gord next year. Back when Gord was announced, the studio also said that it has another project in the works, but we haven’t heard more about it. (It’s called “Project Perun,” according to the studio’s website.)

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