The Order: 1886 is a title that I have been looking forward to since E3 2013. While sitting at the PlayStation press conference, we were shown a little teaser trailer that tickled my fancy with its Victorian era setting, steampunk weaponry and fantastical enemies. After a little delay in release, we are now able to get our hands on this PS4 exclusive game.
The Order: 1886 takes place in an alternative version of London in the Victorian era. You play as Galahad, a knight and member of the Order, set to defend the world against half breed monsters that are a mix of human and animal.
This is a story of loyalty, betrayal and deception that goes beyond the fantastical enemies you will encounter. The script feels like it was written for a movie or a television series that you would find on HBO or Showtime. The game moves fluidly from gameplay to cut scene, making seamless transitions that almost make you miss critical interactive moments because you think it is pre-recorded. The amount of cut scenes might drive some players crazy, but I believe the focus of this game was much more on building the story than on the challenge of the gameplay.
Controls, Mechanics & Gameplay
There is nothing revolutionary about the controls of this game. In order to to be fun to play, a third person shooter action adventure doesn’t need to be over complicated to control. You will feel very comfortable using the triggers to shoot, the shoulder bumpers for additional fire power, the directional pad to choose your weapon and the buttons to complete actions. Weaponry is also fairly simple. You probably have 10 weapons at your disposal but you can only carry one long barrel gun, one pistol style gun and an explosive projectile at a time. The Order: 1886 takes a nod from previous games with a bullet-time like ability called Blacksight that slows down time in order for you to find weak points and shoot enemies in a much more controlled fashion. Makes me reminisce my time spent playing Red Dead Redemption. This power is drawn from the Blackwater potion that the knights drink to heal themselves quickly.
Is the game on rails? Yes. Can you really explore the world freely? No. It’s more along the lines of an interactive movie than a video game. It reminds me of experiences like Uncharted and Heavy Rain without the puzzles and the decision making mechanics respectively. It feels more like you are binge watching a series on Netflix with interactive elements rather than playing a video game. Is that a bad thing? Depends on what you are looking for in a game. I enjoyed the experience none the less.
Once you are finished the game, the only replay value is to obtain the platinum trophy. It will be an easy one to grab since you can collect all the trophies no matter what difficulty you play on. There is no multiplayer.
Don’t worry about dying while playing The Order: 1886. You have an infinite number of lives and if you do bite the bullet, you will restart at the last checkpoint that you cleared, which usually isn’t that far from where you died.
The Order: 1886 is by far the most graphically impressive game that I have seen to date on either PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. The Ready At Dawn studio team were obviously aiming to capture a film like atmosphere and they really hit the nail on the head. The game truly makes you feel as though you are inside a major motion picture, through colour tone, grain, frame rate and realism of the surrounding world. The animation feels naturally fluid and the character renderings are as good as any 3D movie I have seen – not unsimilar in style to Polar Express. The character’s faces are extremely expressive and the skin and hair detail looks life like. I was blown away by many scenes, just basking in the awe of small things like the twitch in Galahad’s face, the flow of absinthe into a cup or the way light reflected off a broken tiled wall.
The cast of The Order: 1886 deserve a high five for their performances in this game. Both the voice acting and physical performances are television worthy, never feeling forced, overacted or mechanical.
I would be amiss to not mention the topic du jour around the internet pertaining to this game. A video showing a 5 hour run through of the game broke embargo and was uploaded to the internet. Gamers has been ablaze the past few days, shocked at how short The Order: 1886 appeared to be. It took me about 10 hours to get through the entire story and I didn’t rush. In an interview with Develop, the team at Ready At Dawn studio said that the game would take approximately 8-10 hours to complete and that matched my experience. The game always kept up pace – never becoming boring or repetitive and it always kept me wanting to move further in the plot. Compared to the average game time of titles like Uncharted 3 (approximately 8-10 hours), Call of Duty: Advance Warfare single player (approximately 10 hours) and Destiny single player (about 10 hours), this story time doesn’t seem that out of place to me. What is getting the internet all worked up is that at the $70 price point with no multiplayer mode gamers feel they are not going to get enough Victorian bang for their buck. Maybe it should be marked with at $50 tag, a little lower than traditional games. But with that being said, here is one of the biggest reasons why I am ok with this game being exactly as long as it is…
With the amount of games released in the past six months with major bugs, broken multiplayer and issues on launch day, I am very impressed that I did not run into any issues while playing The Order: 1886. It’s to the point that I am actually surprised that I did not run into any trouble. Though there was a patch to download when I installed the game (which was super quick) I didn’t see a single dropped frame, my game never crashed, the loading was quick and the controls were solid. I find it really weird that I am surprised at how solid this game is, but that has been the tale of game launches recently.
All said and done, I really enjoyed my time with The Order: 1886. I know there are going to be nay-sayers out there, complaining that $70 is too high a price to pay for a ~10 hour single player game but I urge you to give it a chance. Being launched at the beginning of the PS4 life cycle, the graphics are just a taste as to what this console is capable of. I plan on platinuming this game and I am eagerly awaiting the next instalment in the franchise.