(none) Quintin Stone - Interactive Fiction Review
Interactive Fiction
Role-playing Games


Author: John Evans
Language: z-code
Score: 5

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.

Final score: 5

High point:
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.)

Low point:
Reading the hints for the air elemental and then trying to figure out exactly where to find the items it was describing.
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