“I hate that clown, but not as much as Mr. Far. I think I’ll go smoke a cigar.”
When it comes to learning a new skill, being thrown into the deep end is probably not the best strategy, especially if it involves teaching kids how to swim. A lack of context or a rudimentary understanding of the task at hand isn’t the best place to start, but when it’s an act of deliberation? Who knows, maybe it’s knowledge to a higher power, which is certainly what something like GORSD implies.
This is the latest title from Singapore studio Springloaded, a small team whose small catalog covers a lot of bases already. Whether it’s a casual auto-clicker, chiptune rhythm-action, or an RTS/Tower Defense-hybrid, you certainly can’t accuse Springloaded for sticking to one comfort zone. That thought goes tenfold when you see something like GORSD, and almost immediately, you’ll see what I mean.
You play as a rather charming, little, squid-like creature who awakens in a forest that doesn’t seem hostile at first. Soon after, you’re subjected to an indecipherable language before the serene nature is immediately interrupted by abrasive gods taking the form of spherically-lined dragons with twisted faces. It’s quite clear they’re not impressed by your presence, and you’re going to have to work to either co-exist or defeat them.
Immediately, the game’s quite reminiscent of Anodyne; Analgesic’s dreamscape looks into a young being’s psyche, but the comparisons go beyond a similar aesthetic. That calming score that seems to pleasantly overthrow the atmosphere, the way your character is spoken to in potentially deserving condescension. It’s a coincidence, a stretch of the imagination, which is everything this game aspires to be.
There’s certainly a vibe that GORSD immediately wants to jump for, and that’s “weird”. With the spherical dragons screaming at you, the visual design being blared at full volume, and how the game plays— It’s clear that they’re trying to tickle the synapse we possess that powers curiosity. Whether it’s Paranoiascape, Tamashii, or even the classic LSD Dream Emulator, there’s a market for oddities, especially if they’re trying on all fronts like GORSD is.
Does it extend past gameplay? Well, kind of. It’s a mixture of the Light-Cycle game from Tron, and the general objective of Splatoon. You and your adversaries are placed onto a lined grid, with the goal being to color in the entirety of the level with your color only. If the entire level is your color? You win, and curry more favor with these malevolent gods!
It’s not all Jeff Bridges meets schoolgirl squids, however, as trapping someone in your line of color doesn’t destroy them. You’re given a bullet you can fire only once until it hits an objective, whether it’s an enemy or a far-away piece of uncolored land you can’t reach. This bullet can also go around corners, should you press the direction of the upcoming corner as you fire it, which sounds strategic, but in execution, falls flat.
Considering this all relates to right angles and squares within squares, the arena design tends to become more and more complicated, with tactics taking a backseat to luck. Sometimes, the predictive nature of the bullet will work in your favor, but a lot of the time, you’re at the mercy of a bullet that won’t listen to you. In fact, if you don’t pay attention, it can also kill you, which is another decision that adds a degree of unnecessary challenge.
Unless you hold a specific button before you’re about to be hit by your own bullet, you won’t be able to recollect and reuse it, instead committing to a respawn. This wouldn’t be an issue if, say, all bullets fired had their team colors on them, instead of white crosses that blaze across the map. It also wouldn’t be an issue if the game speed wasn’t so lightning fast.
This might be more of a preference than an objective issue, but the game speed of GORSD is insanely quick. The characters and their projectiles dart around the arena with phenomenal speed, and even on early arenas, you tend to find yourself catching your bullet the wrong way. Even if the game speed was tweaked just slightly, you also have the issue of playing a game that’s zoomed out way too far.
What is this, a battlefield for ants? The colors are even harder to determine from this angle as well, with your only insight being a vague colored outline above your character. Yes, you can visibly see the trail your squid will make, but the bullets also make trails, and the AI isn’t exactly blessed with tactics, spamming bullets whenever they can. That being said, it’s the game mode without the AI that shines the best.
Time Puzzles are dripping in fun and intuitive ways to solve them, even when Springloaded takes a Jackson Pollack approach to how the string of straight lines play out. There is a method to the madness, however, and the mere act of using the bullet to color off the beaten path is smart — Smarter here than it is in a competitive environment, at least.
GORSD doesn’t make sense, both in how it approaches its own gameplay, and in general. The Adventure mode promises a seven-hour stroll through some of its most meticulous maps, but that’s only if you decide to let the game torture you with egregious spawn times. Should you be humiliated enough to tune down the difficulty, the journey is sliced in half, maybe even down to two hours.
After the adventure, you only have more AI fights to follow, in repetitive endless modes involving the same AI. It’s only now that you realize how boring a lot of GORSD is; as unflinching as the pacing may be, it still lacks that certain punch, that variety in how you approach a match, beyond randomly spamming bullets. It seems to talk a big game about strategy, but that strategy simply isn’t there.
At its core, GORSD isn’t bad, there’s no inherent traits that specifically mark it down, but it’s the way Springloaded executed how it would be a multiplayer experience that falls flat. What should be an alluring jaunt through aesthetically foreign lands, can’t keep up with its own odd presentation to be consistently interesting. It doesn’t matter how innovative this dish may be, the plate it’s on doesn’t look clean.
This review of GORSD was based on the Xbox One version of the game. A review code was provided for this purpose.
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