I’m a sucker for alternate realities. Hell, I can’t grow the faintest hint of beard stubble without feeling like Spock from the “Mirror, Mirror” episode of Star Trek (or Evil Abed from “The Darkest Timeline” on Community).
I especially love alternate-reality mash-ups. That kid who spent hours having his G.I. Joe action figures storm the Death Star? That was me. When the kids on my block were torn between playing Cowboys & Indians or Star Wars, I was the one who said, “Let’s do both!”
So the makers of The Order: 1886 didn’t have to work very hard to sell me on their Steampunky premise. Is that Sir Galahad of the Knights of the Round Table, packing a cool space-rifle while riding a horse-drawn carriage through 19th century London as airships hover overhead? You had me at space-rifle!
Part of this fascination with colliding cultures comes from my adolescent suspicion that I was the victim of some kind of trans-dimensional baby swap, like some cruel cosmic parody of The Prince and the Pauper. I spent my teen years fuming that my obvious genius was not bringing me the adulation I deserved. Why were girls not falling at my feet? Why were those boys in gym class stuffing me into lockers? Did they not know I was destined for greatness?
The only rational explanation was that I’d somehow been switched at birth with the lowly wretch who was supposed to be suffering this hellish existence instead of me. Oh, how I fumed, imagining that far less deserving Kevin gallivanting around my Earth, being worshipped by my followers and enjoying the favors of my groupies, while I suffered the eternal indignity of a world that refused to recognize my true godlike status, like Kanye West in an episode of Sliders. [Ed note: He’s still trying to find a dimension where his croissants are brought to him in a timely fashion.]
In the summer between ninth and tenth grade, I shared my theory with a doe-eyed girl in my summer school math class. Not only was I the ruler of this parallel world, I confided, but in that world, she was my princess, destined to sit at the foot of my throne and peel grapes for me while I dispensed the wisdom of Solomon to my loyal subjects. She giggled, at first, until she realized I was serious.
Then she laughed and asked me to never speak to her again.
To this day, I sometimes dream about that moment. I wonder if that other Kevin is haunted by the same dream, or if she took him up on the offer. He better hope I don’t ever come knocking on the door to his world with a space-rifle. Or at the very least, he and that doe-eyed girl better have saved me some peeled grapes.
On consoles in 2014.