App Reviewed on: iPhone XR
User Interface Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
There are a lot of games coming out that market themselves as minimalist, but it's hard to think of many that take that idea as far as Ord. This tiny text adventure is so stripped down that its story is delivered via text, and the text it presents is simply a series of one-word statements. It's surprising how effectively Ord. can string together these micro scenes into a narrative that makes sense, but the novelty of this trick wears off quickly.
Ord. is a choose-your-own-adventure game where you react to each single-word scene with a single word reaction of your own. As an example, most of these quests begin with some variation of waking up, so you may see the word "alarm" which you can choose to react with "wake" or "snooze." At the start of any of these adventures though, Ord. lays out the basic arc you'll be going on (e.g. slay the warlock), so you have a sense of what the greater context of your stories will be despite the lack of exposition.
After you choose a reaction, Ord. usually follows up with 2-3 additional words that complete the scene that you tap to dismiss and reach the next scene. The stated goal of each of these stories is to complete whatever objective stated in the story intro, but there's plenty of opportunity to get sidetracked and discover where your binary choices can take you.
Ord.'s stories are a mix of random events and a linear progression of scenes, meaning each time you play, the story changes a little bit. This is a smart decision because there are tons of end points to each story in the game, and each time you discover one your only recourse for exploring that story further is by staring it over again from the beginning.
Some of the game's endings are clever and remind me a bit of games like Reventure, where the whole point is to find funny ways to end the game prematurely. Some of the scenes you come across along the way can be similarly humorous, like a dimensional leap from an exploding spacecraft to a dreadfully dull office environment, where you choose whether or not to do things like delete spam or shuffle papers on your desk.
For every clever moment in Ord., there's more than a few choices that feel completely random and inconsequential. Choosing whether to drink at the tavern, preparing for the road ahead, or taking the bus or train home, all don't feel like they add to the stories being told in the game. In some cases these throwaway scenes can also result in death or some other ending that you aren't hoping for, forcing you to start your story again.
If there's something more to these scenes that I'm not getting, that just goes to show the limitations of having such a stripped down narrative presention. Reading and re-reading these single word scenes can get old quickly if you're not encountering new ones. This is unfortunately easy to do even after spending a short amount of time with Ord.
The bottom line
I'm fascinated and impressed with how Ord. can convey so much information with so little, but this accomplishment is part of what hampers its appeal. Reading and re-reading one-word phrases while making choices--some of which seem totally random--can make Ord. feel like a guessing game that grows old as you stop encountering novel situations.