Gorn is a physics-based brawler where the objective is to tenderize your opponent with various blunt objects. Gladiator in your living room is one way of describing it, but it’s also got style. Take to your fists and flip off your opponent before you deck them across the jaw, adding insult to injury. Deflect incoming attacks with shields and they might end up hitting themselves in the face, opening up for a deadly blow.
You can be pretty creative in how you dispatch your opponents, the game offers you a decent selection of destructive implements to do so. This game thrives best when you find creative ways to take down the enemies you face, but it needs more than a few meatbags to push around. Job Stauffer, a consultant, and contributor to the game says the fitness aspect of Gorn came as something of an afterthought that played a role in expanding development: “When conceptualizing GORN we did not consider the exercise potential of the game. In fact for most of the development rounds were much shorter and enemies were way dumber, so the game only really gained in intensity late in development. We did start to realize that extended sessions can be quite a workout, especially for skilled players playing on a higher difficulty. This lead to Dogson (our resident security/fitness expert) playing with wrist weights for added exercise!” Stauffer added, “I’m also really looking forward to a future full of swole nerds.”
In practice, this game works out a bit like hitting a bag and has the fitness equivalent of an elliptical. There are better boxing simulators out there, but Gorn just lets you flail around a bit in a comical space. Perfect for light and medium days depending on how hard you want to push yourself. Gorn is medieval combat taken to a silly degree and the newest update, appropriately titled “Giant”, offers fitness gamers a low-violence mode, along with a few more reasons to dive into this title.
The Giant Update
It’s fair to say that Gorn can get a bit repetitive in its early and late phases, even though it’s very immersive and uses room scale well. The Giant Update is trying to inject a bit of variety into gameplay with some new weaponry, and a new boss character to fight.
The Giant has a pint-sized underling who will sling arrows at you while his big brother keeps you at bay with a massive axe. You will need to figure out how best to move in on this beast, scoring blows the closer you get.
The new boss challenges gamers who might feel they’ve mastered this title, but fitness gamers can challenge themselves to take the boss down in record time to push themselves.
The good news is you have a few new tools at your disposal. A new crossbow caestus gives you melee and ranged options, while the throwing shield turns you into Captain America. A great axe offers you some heft in your strikes and could cleave opponents easily, and the greatsword offers a similar experience but for fans of Ned Stark.
Sounds bloody, right?
If blood and guts aren’t appealing to you, the Giant update also includes a ridiculous pinata mode that turns the game into a low-violence candy fest! You can take out aggression without the guilt of killing virtual avatars.
A new arena introduces some environmental hazards into the mix. They can be used against your opponents, and they can affect you too. That might become a bigger problem in the game’s new NIGHTMARE difficulty level, where opponents will try and actively swarm and kill you.
Along with all of this free content, the game has been optimized a bit to work more efficiently on most rigs. If it ran so-so before, you might notice a slight bump in performance now.
Gorn relies on a decent sized playing field (2mx2m) that you are free to move within. You will need to swing your arms around, often in wide arcs, so be sure your space is safe. We notice the best benefit in the arms, chest, and back, which is why we compare it to hitting the bag. Moving around, there are plenty of opportunities for cardio, like ducking and dodging incoming foes. Lower difficulties are more just meat sponges to be beaten around.
Gorn is a great VR game you can add to your library for melee combat. It’s not realism based, so you won’t learn how to fight, but it’s an excellent title to get for your VR headset as part of that first batch of games to see what VR can really do. It does basic VR very well, it’s funny, and it’s still in Early Access.