Author: John Evans
In a nice twist, you are the summonee, not the summoner.
Unfortunately, this game is crippled by the poor implementation of an
overambitious design idea and a major oversight in one room description
that makes it effectively unwinnable.
The quality of prose I found to be generally good. The text of
various rooms did a fairly decent job at evoking an otherworldly
atmosphere. The story is a clever variation on the typical fantasy
game. You're not the wizard summoning a powerful spirit to do your
bidding. Instead, you are the powerful spirit summoned to the bidding
of another. The introduction had me fearing puzzles for the sake of
puzzles, but I found this not to be the case once I easily escaped the
starting room. After completing the intermediate steps (with
unavoidable help from the hint system... see below), I arrived at the
endgame with no idea what exactly was transpiring or who the involved
characters were supposed to be (even though I somehow knew their names).
It wasn't long after the start room that I began to discover the
limitation of the open-ended "create" verb. The idea of the game is
that the player can create objects out of thin air by using nothing more
than a thought. The problem is, of course, that only objects predefined
by the author can be actualized. And since this game doesn't seem to
have been playtested by anyone except the author, your ideas for
solutions are likely not implemented, leaving you to grasp for either
synonyms or other alternatives. This, by itself, is bearable. The big
hole in The Order is that one vital piece of scenery was left out of a
room description. It's implemented and the hints refer to it; you just
have no idea it even exists or where. This overshadows the minor
problems of not being able to use "pile" as a synonym for "pile of
belongings" or the default Inform self-description being completely out
of place for a summoned spirit.
There was a lot of initial appeal that was quickly dampened by the
frustration of guess-the-noun problems associated with the "create"
verb. The mystery steeple was what really sapped the fun from this
game. John Evans also released the game Domicile in last year's comp,
another game that needed to be playtested before being released. The
shame of it is, I think he has some real talent and it can't be
appreciated because he doesn't others to verify his games are ready
before they're released.
The deceptive ease with which I completed the initial "test". I was
expecting a much more elaborate series of puzzles. (In fact, at first I
thought that the setup might simply be an elaborate excuse for a
straight puzzle game, in the spirit of The Recruit from Comp03.)
Reading the hints for the air elemental and then trying to figure out
exactly where to find the items it was describing.