Ord. review for PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Platform: PS4
Also on: Xbox One, PC, Switch
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Developer: Mujo Games/2020 Stuffed Wombat
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

I?m hesitant to write too many words about Ord. After all, it?s a game where you build entire stories three words at a time, so writing a lengthy essay on it feels like it?s missing the point. That said, I?m not nearly a good enough writer to string together a series of three-word paragraphs that actually tell you anything about the game, so mini-essay it is.

The best way to think of Ord. is as word association that evolves into a story. You start the game with nothing but a single word – ?Alarm.? — on a black screen, and from there, your choices dictate how the game goes. You can wake up (?Wake.?), or go back to sleep (?Snooze.?), and whichever one you pick invariably goes somewhere.

The entire game, in fact, is one long series of choices. You encounter ?Hut.?, and you can either ?Approach.? or ?Walk.? You meet ?Witch.?, and it?s either ?Talk.? or ?Flee.? You come across ?Raccoon.?, and you can either ?Wrestle.? or ?Bribe.? Every choice you make leads you straight into the next one, until you either die or you finish your story. It?s kind of like a Choose Your Own Adventure game, except a) there are way more deaths here, and b) you provide nearly all the story in your head, through your interpretation of those words on the screen.

And for the most part, it works. It can be sort of frustrating in the same way CYOA books were, where you have to restart at the beginning and get through parts of the story you?ve already read in order to get to the new stuff (though given we?re literally talking three words per chapter, it?s hardly onerous reading). It?s also frustrating in ways that just weren?t possible in Choose Your Own Adventure — it?s impossible to read ahead in Ord. to figure out where your story is going (and, by extension, avoid the deaths), which can be a little frustrating.

But that?s part of what makes Ord. so interesting and engaging. Because it?s constantly moving forward, even when you die — and you?ll come to all kinds of grisly ends here — you?re put right back at the beginning and pushed into your next story. Throughout the five stories on offer here, you always feel like there?s something new around the bend, or some order in which things can progress. That?s a whole lot of words to write about a game that doesn?t use many to get its point across, I know, but Ord. is all about making players fill in the gaps, and it does a pretty good job of it.

Ratalaika Games provided us with an Ord. PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: B+