[REVIEW] GORN on Oculus Quest 2 – The Slayer of ceiling lamps returns

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Alright, before I set off, I’m very aware of GORN not being a new game. I’ve played this stupid gladiator sim on PlayStation VR before, prior to my trip to Ikea to get a new ceiling lamp. But recently the game got added to the Oculus Store, so I thought I’d give it a go. You know… just to make sure I also look like a flailing idiot on the road.

Then again, you might not even be aware of this thing called GORN. In that case, welcome to this demented game in which you embody a virtual Russel Crowe, whose only purpose in life is dealing death to others in the arena. Intrigued much? Grab a sword and a shield, raise your weapons and salute thy emperor. We who are about to trash the living room, salute you!

So yeah, nothing much has changed in GORN. It is still the dumbest thing I’ve ever played, and I’ve played some stupid shit in my days. Weirdly enough, stupid is good in this case. Ever since I’ve watched the movie Gladiator, I’ve cherished the strong desire to “entertain” the masses without nasty side effects such as severed limbs, arterial bleeding, and a serious case of being dead. Therefore, GORN is a delight to play, even if it is set on making you redecorate the house without you realizing it.

Getting the hang of GORN isn’t that hard either. You enter an arena, pick up a weapon, salute the emperor and his big-headed senate, and have at it. There’s really nothing else to it. Especially in the early stages, the only real enemy is your own attention span. If you neglect your surroundings and get hit in the head by a meathead with a club, your demise can be accounted to your own stupidity. The further you progress, the harder things get. Throw some long-range weapons and stage bosses in the mix, and GORN becomes a virtual fight to the death.

The only real thing you have to overcome to really enjoy GORN – apart from your own ignorance – are the controls, which are a bit dodgy, jittery, and just as odd as the game itself. Instead of free movement or teleportation, by default, you kinda drag yourself through the arena by holding the triggers and pulling the scenery towards you. This might be off-putting at first, but after some practice – and maybe some changes in the options menu – GORN becomes more and more playable. Eventually, the hassle of unintentionally dropping your weapon and struggling to pick it back up in the middle of a bludgeoning will become less of a dealbreaker. Changing the control settings to ‘moving by thumbstick’ mode helped me out a great deal, although that might increase the chance of motion sickness for some.

Once you’re at this point, GORN becomes a pretty fun cartoony gorefest, which treats you to endless possibilities in maiming enemies. The ragdoll physics make it a blast to just pummel a poor sap’s noggin to a pulp before you launch him into the bleachers with a nasty uppercut. The amount of blood is insane though, but even that can be altered in the settings, interchanging the characters with piñatas. Speaking of alterations, the various custom settings – like determining head sizes and adding confetti do a deadly blow – make it even more idiotic than the base game already is.

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Nevertheless, GORN might be a hard sell for some of you. At the moment, GORN is going for $20 or €20 on the Oculus Store. This isn’t particularly steep, but the Steam version has been on sale a couple of times already, with prices dropping to ten bucks or euros. According to some, the Steam version even looks significantly better, but that’s a matter of personal preference. So if you don’t mind giving up the wireless experience or have the means to utilize Steam VR wireless through Virtual Desktop, going for the Steam version could offer you a way better deal if you have the patience to wait for it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that GORN is a total shitfest that isn’t worth your hard-earned cash (because it’s frickin’ hilarious), but it sure isn’t up there with games like Beat Saber or Pistol Whip, which offer you a similar workout for a few bucks more. But then again, Pistol Whip and Beat Saber aren’t even in the same ballpark. Hell, they aren’t even close to being that hilariously slapsticky, but they do offer more production value for the price tag. But then again, the production value is in the eye of the beholder.

Plus, GORN can get repetitive real fast. Even though developer Free Lives is trying to spruce up the game as much as possible, the gimmick will become a bore at some point in time. Online multiplayer might fix this, if only temporarily. The fact stays that bonking dudes in the head just isn’t the kind of thing that keeps you interested for a long period of time, even if it’s funny as fuck. Oh well… maybe that’s why most gladiators didn’t stick around for too long.

Bloody fun comes at a price
The Yays
Stupidly entertaining
You can be an idiot on the move now
(Dismembering) gladiators never get(s) old
The Nays
Price tag might put you off
Controls can feel jittery at times
Free Lives not liable, so no interior damage claims
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