I feel I’ve had enough time to scour through reviews up for the game already, and sit through and play it for myself. I’ll fill everyone in slightly on what the game is about before looking at individual components.
The Order: 1886 is Sony’s brand new IP from Ready At Dawn, their home console after working on God Of War for the PSP. The tale follows the story of descendants of The Knights of The Round Table who form The Order, set up to fight supernatural beings who threaten the realm. The Order have all sorts of fantastical weapons and technology at their disposal to defeat the half-breeds. (Werewolves essentially.) Ranging from the arc gun, a devastating weapon that shoots lighting. To the Thermite Rifle, a weapon that fires pellets of aluminium iron oxide at enemies and then ignites them with a flare. The knights are also equipped with wireless communicators ahead of their time. The game takes place in neo-Victorian era London. The streets are murky with fog and dangerously unpredictable. Blimps or ‘airships’ float in the sky above assisting the knights wherever possible. The knights must also fight against people rebelling against the rich during the power struggle, who interrupt them doing their duty.
There are 4 main characters, The knights. Grizzled lycan slayers who have lived longer than ordinary human beings due to ‘Blackwater’ A substance which grants knights a longer lifespan and fast healing abilities. Sir Galahad, hardened professional with a magnificent moustache. Lady Igraine, a strong, determined female who can hold her own. Sir Percival, an effortless commander, mentor to Galahad. Lafayette, passionate Frenchman with an eye for the ladies. You will also encounter Nikola Tesla in the game who acts as The Order’s “Q” character, providing you with essentials to defeat evil. To make closer comparisons to films, the setting all seems vaguely similar to Van Helsing in my opinion.
I’ll start with the presentation. Which happens to be absolutely mind-blowing. It really does look at times like a CG film. It seems to be everything it promised to be from early trailers. Edges are smooth with little to no jagged edges in sight. The faces look very realistic and motion capture works very well. Costume designs are top-notch and fabrics behave the way they should. Galahad’s hair and his clothes flow in the breeze. There’s also a great use of depth of field effects adding a blur to the action giving a more cinematic presentation. One addition that had fans arguing were the black ratio bars that cover the top and bottom half of the screen. Ready At Down have insist they have used these to make the game more cinematic-looking. But it’s more likely to give less strain on the hardware and achieve a more consistent 30fps pciture. And it does achieve it has to be said. The game looks very smooth and you will completely forget about the whole 30fps, 60fps debacle.
I hate to side with feminists but it’s great to see such a rugged and secure female character who isn’t highly sexualised or predictably vulnerable. Lady Igraine or Isabeau is as capable as the rest of the knight and commands a strong presence. Galahad is quintessentially cool and should easily be a posterboy for the Playstation brand.
Voice acting is superb and engaging. It’s likely some of the best to be found in a videogame. Characters all sound unique and distinctive. There is however one thing that managed to raise my attention, and that is the characters breathing. Which seems to be overly-exaggerated in scenes where close-ups are used.
The weapon designs are brilliant yet grounded and extremely enticing to try out. And when you do, you will almost certainly have a blast with them. Sparks shower opponents before burning them alive with the Thermite Rifle, The lightning gun or ‘Arc Gun’ as it’s called, rips through and dismembers targets who are unfortunate enough to be hit by its strike. Every weapon in the game feels ferocious to fire and shooting is a joyful part of the experience.
If there’s one thing to label The Order 1886, it’s one of those types of games that not everyone appreciates. The type of game that heavily holds your hand through its strong story and
The gameplay has been described by some critics as as “look but don’t touch”. Which is correct but it’s only a bad thing if you aren’t tolerant with the particular genre.
It’s been bashed for having cutscene after cutscene interrupting gameplay and having bad pacing. Personally I don’t agree here. From my playthrough, I didn’t really see the problem people were talking about. There were long sections of gunfights broken up by simple exploration. It felt similar to the Uncharted series in that respect, and rightly so as it was a big influence on getting The Order 1886 proposed. Yes, many sections involve walking at a speed set by the developers. Which I can understand as running around like a racehorse wouldn’t compliment the dramatics of the story that is happening on-screen. Some critics believed this is taking away freedom from the player, which is a sound point but you have to remember this isn’t a sandbox like Grand Theft Auto. And players going in expecting that level of freedom are only going to be disappointed. My advice is to go into the game expecting something akin to a David Cage game with shooting segments. Perhaps if it was marketed more as such, it wouldn’t have left reviewers and players bewildered with the final product.
I personally only found a few things I didn’t like about it. But overall it is one of my favourite games this generation so far. If you rush through it anticipating cutscenes and huffing about every time one comes on, you aren’t going to enjoy it. You could do the same thing for a game like The Last Of Us and call that annoying too because it really isn’t that much different.
If I was to describe it in fact, I would call it a cross between Heavy Rain and Uncharted. Sections walking around looking at the world, then sections of enemy waves to take out. Button prompts and a some QTE involved cutscenes similar to Heavy Rain.
QTE button prompts can be unfairly punishing. You must get them right or your character is killed and you must repeat the action again. This problem leaks into the fact three quarters of the way into the game, a rather large stealth section appears. And sneaking up behind people, you must press the Triangle button at the exact moment to sneak up behind a guard and shank him. This makes it extremely difficult to do it a number of times without making a mistake and having to go back round and do it all again. Luckily though, you don’t have to use this approach and can use a silenced weapon if you prefer. Which you most likely will after discovering how flawed the mechanic ultimately is.
Character AI can sometimes go a bit doolally, running unnaturally towards the next goal. Which breaks immersion. Especially in a game in which the coating is so perfect. This sort of niggle has been a problem in gaming for a while though but as we go forward, we really need some sort of solution to it. Enemy AI will also sometimes let itself down. I stumbled on the odd enemy who was in the same room as me but wasn’t even looking in the right direction to have a pop at me.
The soundtrack is dark, disgruntled and even does an excellent job of foreboding tension during certain sections.
The game is to be said, rather short. About the same length as a Call Of Duty campaign but without multiplayer. I finished it in around 6 hours in one sitting so you can get the idea. It’s all about how much you believe it is worth. If you’re like me and were desperate just to play something single player orientated, you probably won’t be that fussed about coughing up the asking price to play it.
As the titles appeared at the end, it felt like it was supposed to be part 1 of 2 or there is some DLC or a sequel to follow. Which is quite unlikely but it leaves you dying to play more.
The story is very enjoyable albeit slightly predictable. You can tell there has been a lot of work put into the initial concept and it would be a mammoth shame if this brand new IP were to perish because of some attacking reviews. I really hope Sony commission another game in the series or indeed universe as I feel we definitely need to see more.