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Ord. – Ingeniously sparse narrative adventure

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Developer: Crescent Moon Games
Price: $2/£2
Size: 80.1 MB
Version: 1.03
Platform: iPhone & iPad


Ord. boils down the idea of a multiple-choice narrative adventure to its very core. There are no images here, only words. And even then, only a few.

Each stage of your journey is represented by just a single word. It might be Home, Racoon, Portal, Brick, or Stranger. Below these words you’ll find two related action choices, again in singular form. So, for that early Home setting, you’ll receive the option to Leave or Stay.

Any game that has you wrestling a raccoon has to be good

As the adventure winds on, not all of the scenarios are so obvious, which serves to provide further context. The option to either Wrestle or Bribe a Racoon, for example, paints a vividly humorous picture in just three words.

Each choice you make leads to another, and potentially to one of numerous endings for that story. There’s also a random element to the paths you take. The first time we left the house in the opening Quest story, we came across a bridge and met a swift end at the hands of a troll. The second time, we encountered and sniffed some flowers.

A single word goes a long way in Ord.

You might initially find it annoying when your story comes to an abrupt and unforeseeable end – slipping while jumping a stream, for example. But you’ll soon fall into Ord’s rapid rinse-and-repeat rhythm. It wants you to play through multiple times in just a few minutes, stretching its boundaries by literally playing with language.

There are four adventures at the time of writing. Alongside the fantasy-tinged Quest there’s the multiple-worlds sci-fi of Dimensions, the god-simulating World, and the creepy escape thriller Foul Things.

Dimensions is the most colorful yet least effective story

All have their charms, but we found Dimensions to be much less effective than Quest. Fantastical fairy tale tropes are embedded deep in our culture, so it’s easy to build a full mental picture with only a few familiar terms. Sci-fi literature tends to have to work harder to convey what the reader should be seeing, and Ord’s single-word pictures simply can’t adequately convey the dimension-hopping plot.

World has a uniquely experimental feel among the four, casting you as a deity and asking you to sculpt a new world. It’s simultaneously empowering and consequence-free. Foul Things takes things in the opposite direction, zooming in on a much more limited yet simultaneously high-stakes scenario.

Ord makes sparing but effective use of animation

Helping to embellish and distinguish these stories are some lightly animated fonts and backgrounds, as well as impeccably sparse sound design. A little really goes a long way here, with each word and action forming a delicious five-note melody.

It all combines to produce a truly memorable word-based adventure. Ord. explores the limits of language whilst simultaneously laying on the most intuitive narrative adventure on the App Store. Achievement.