The Order of the Thorne has an interesting and uncomplicated view of itself, presenting little and asking for even less of it’s players. The game begins with a bard named Finn establishing his motive, which is to be the best and most well-known bard in all the land. He wants to accomplish this by creating a song that sums up all the adventures that he knows he will be soon be going through, as he has signed up for The King’s Challenge.
For this year, the King’s Challenge is to find the Queen of Uir. I would say more, but that is just about all the game gives you. Some background mumbling of a ‘great evil’ and other standard exposition is told in a breezy manner, with a metaphorical shrug of the shoulder. Overall, nearly every character, including Finn, is the equivalent of a cardboard box with a smiley face scribbled onto it. I say nearly because the one character who isn't is given a frown instead of a smiley face. Almost everyone is excessively nice, kind, and brave in their own way, save the aforementioned character who is mean and is subsequently dealt with for breaking the mold. Uir is traditional fantasy land where good cheer and happy smiles are the order of the day, where its characters are all so uniformly one-note that I was forcibly reminded of the Monty Python skit where everyone is forced to be happy on pain of death.
If you are to have any hope of enjoyment for The Order of the Thorne, you must put yourself in the mind of an 80’s or early 90’s PC gamer. What is hopelessly cliché, dull, and short (the game is only three hours long) was par for the course back then. This is replicated in everything from the graphics and soundtrack to even the story. This is a game intent on replicating this experience from two decades past, and on that front it succeeds with flying colors. From the not-quite-perfect voice acting to the slooow walking of characters during cutscenes (which at least makes sense in the game's context), The Order of the Thorne is a pretty decent nostalgia trip of early adventure titles, for those interested in partaking in such a trip.
How hard is it to put yourself in that frame of mind? It depends. The narrator, who is seemingly channeling a faux James Earl Jones, appropriately hams it up, while the introduction to the game has enough wailing guitars to jump-start a cheese factory. In short, there is little else that can be said without going into reiteration. The Order of the Thorne knows what it wants to be and becomes it, with no higher aspirations.
However, is The Order of the Thorne for you? That really depends. The game itself functions fine, save for one notable bug that occurs when one has the audacity to switch out of the game's window, which then has the game break by skipping through chat boxes. Despite that bug, The Order of the Thorne is an extremely basic and ordinary adventure title. The puzzles are easy, the storyline is beyond basic, and keeping track of where you are going can sometimes be extremely difficult. In short, it is a typical 80’s adventure title, but released in 2016 and marketed for people above the age of 35 or the curious. It is interesting, as mentioned earlier.
For those who grew up in the 80’s playing King’s Quest, this game may be worth it for you. It’s not ludicrously priced, but for three hours of gameplay (which could easily be two and a half hours if you are halfway decent at solving puzzles) there really isn’t much that can be added to the game’s cost anyway. Overall, while The Order of the Thorne tastes like candy, it is clear that there is little else of value once the nostalgia-rush fades.
The Order of the Thorne was reviewed on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developer.