The place to discuss the ADRIFT Interactive Fiction toolkit


A forum where new and old games can be reviewed - an alternative to the reviews on the Adventures page of the main ADRIFT site. Also the place to ask for any assistance if you are stuck playing a particular game.

Postby davidw » Tue Nov 16, 2004 7:23 am

Game: Order

Author: John Evans

This is the first game I've played by John Evans although according to Baf's Guide it's the fifth game he's written, all of them entries into previous IFComps - and none of which seem to have done very well. Will Order do any better? I'm guessing not.

You play… a spirit, I think. Or maybe some kind of genie. That sort of thing anyway. You're summoned to the material plane by some spell casters to help them defeat a group of monsters currently besieging their castle. You, it seems, have the power to create pretty much what you want and this is a power you can use to devastating effect. In theory anyway…

I liked this quite a lot to begin with. The idea of actually creating the things I wanted struck me as a great idea and so much less tedious than hunting around for them. For example: the first location is a room I'm locked inside. What do I need to escape? Simple: a key. One "create key" command later and I'm out of the room. Hey presto!

Okay, it's not quite that simple. A bit of guess the verb bogs down the initial location. The door has to be unlocked before it can be opened and simply typing "unlock door" won't work as you need to put "with key" on the end of it. Annoying.

Once you're out of your cell, you can pretty much wander the land and use your powers to kill the creatures currently laying siege to the castle. "Create water" destroys a couple of the monsters; "create fire" takes care of another. Everything seems to be progressing swimmingly well until, without warning, you die. Yep. Dead as a doornail and without the slightest hint it was going to happen. Annoyingly, I hadn't even bothered saving at that stage and simply bashing UNDO a few times doesn't help matters much as you still end up dying a few moves later anyway. Miffed over this, but enjoying the game, I decided to give it another go. And - lo and behold! - I died again. Now I didn't bother counting the amount of turns it took to die each time but I'm guessing they're probably the same so what we have here seems to be one of those hideous things that I thought had died out years ago: the time-based puzzle. These generally consist of a certain number of tasks which have to be completed in a certain amount of turns or you certainly die. Often you're given some warning that this is going to happen - i.e. you're locked in a room filling with water and you'll drown in six moves if you can't escape - but in Order you're given no warning. You just die.

I went to the hints after that. Text adventures which kill the player off in such a way are fair game for cheating at as far as I'm concerned. Unfortunately I didn't find anything in there to tell me why I was suddenly dying without warning. Is it a bug then? Or, on the other hand, is it just that the player is expected to complete the entire game in a very short number of turns? Considering how much of the game there was remaining - a good portion of it judging from how many hints there were left - I'm guessing there must be some kind of way to delay the inevitable death, or avoid it altogether. But as the hints don't tell me, and I can't figure it out myself, it looks like I won't be playing this game much further. Pity. I was enjoying myself for a while there.

On a basic level, the game has a style of writing which was quite retro to me. Little descriptive flair with the locations and just the basics. A few things are described in locations and can't be examined - the windows in the house (and nor can they be opened) - and there are also a few oddities. I'm not able to take the belongings I come across as "that's fixed in place". Fixed in what way? Nailed to the floor? Glued? Please explain. I wasn't able to talk to the one NPC I found, a chap called Sevryn.

The "create" idea is a genuinely good one and if the ability to "create a way of avoiding getting killed without warning" was an option, this game would have been a lot better for it.

5 out of 10
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