The Order: 1886 | A Videogame Review
By: Dylan Lepore | @dylanslegos
The Order: 1886 is a third-person action-adventure shooter, exclusively developed for the PS4 as a launch title, where you play as Sir Galahad who is apart of the Knights of the Round Table, also known as The Order, who are tasked with defending the city and the British Isles from half-breeds, as well as other potential threats.
In the prologue, two guards are torturing Sir Galahad, drag him into a cell, and torture him again before his sentencing to death on Nov. 20, 1886. Inevitably, he escapes from his sentencing.
In Chapter 1, it's Oct. 12, 1886, opening on a rooftop where Sir Galahad is speaking with Sir Perceval, Sir Galahad's mentor and leader of his team, through a communicator on a call about half-breeds spotted in a nearby area.
The Order: 1886 then continues from there into a bland, uninspiring, and predictable game that looks and sounds terrific.
So What Happened?
Ready At Dawn Studios, an independent team of developers based in Irvine, CA, and the creator of The Order: 1886, was founded in 2003 by senior members of Naughty Dog and Blizzard Entertainment. Before taking on the graphical spectacle that is The Order: 1886, they have worked on titles before such as Daxter, God of War: Chains of Olympus, and God of War: Ghost of Sparta all for the PSP, meaning the PS4 is genuinely the first home console they have ever developed for as a team - which is not an easy task to do as they had to build all of their programs and assets from the ground up.
Of course, there were hiccups, and mostly The Order: 1886 might have been too much for the team to handle as their first home console videogame, even with their experience remastering God of War: Chains of Olympus and God of War: Ghost of Sparta for the PS3, they were still merely using the same assets and not truly creating or building anything otherwise new.
Even so, it's an impressive first try for the Ready At Dawn team.
A Predictable Narrative
Think of The Order: 1886 as the origin story of Sir Galahad, who seems to have been with The Order for some time and is considered to be one of their best and brightest Knights.
The Order seems to work outside the law; however, they must follow their own rules to keep "order" - you can think of it similar to the Brotherhood of the Assasins Creed games.
Sir Galahad is part of a team of four within The Order who include Sir Perceval, as mentioned before, Lady Igraine, the love interest, and Lafayette, the lighthearted and romantic Frenchmen.
The predictability of The Order: 1886 is further enhanced by these generalizations and what was shown in the prologue. Ready At Dawn does nothing to break away from this cycle or adding anything new - creating a game that's already done before it starts.
Beautiful Neo-Victorian London
On the bright side, The Order: 1886, set in a re-imagined Neo-Victorian London, is a freaking spectacle of a game from the streets of London, to the Zeppelin's in the sky, to its main characters, the people who walk the streets, the encroaching werewolves, and the games weapon design. Ready At Dawn leaped from PSP graphics to PS4 so well that it seems natural to the studio.
The Order: 1886 is displayed in a 2:40:1 aspect ratio, which gives the players more to see on the horizontal plane similar to what Resident Evil 4 and The Evil Within did - giving off a cinematic feel allowing gamers to only to see what's essential to progress the game.
Ready At Dawn Studios calls this their "Filmic vision" which they replicate the nuances of actual motion picture cameras and lenses for a more immersive and believable presentation - and it looks incredible; however, there were a couple of times where the game is so seamless in its cinematics, I didn't know when they ended, and the gameplay began, so I was just standing there waiting for something to happen.
Ready At Dawn Studios used motion capture in almost, if not every single part of the game, and it shows. The characters move and act like real people in and out of the game's cinematics from moving about the environment, to fighting in combat, and even standing in heavy London rain.
The sound design, voice acting, and music add to it all, creating a marvel of an experience pairing well with the games "Filmic vision" making the environment seem real and grand; however, even with top-notch voice acting, it's hard to attach to any of its characters besides for a few lighthearted moments, and this is mainly due to the predictability of the plot which is one of the several significant parts weighing the game down.
The combat scenarios are akin to Gears of War, Uncharted, and a bit of inspiration from their past God of War games, as The Order: 1886 is cover-based combat with quick-time events sprinkled throughout the playtime.
The combat is pretty much as basic as you can get for a third-person cover-based game such as The Order: 1886, where you can look around the edges, aim then shoot, shoot without aiming, throw grenades, and take out enemies by hand with the single press of the triangle button.
If you do happen to lose enough health that you collapse to the floor and you manage to take cover before you are completely dead, you can pick yourself up back again by taking a sip of your Blackwater, which is some type of elixir from that of the Holy Grail, which heals scratches and internal damage, allowing for something close to immortality but not completely. It said that only the Knights of the Round Table are grated this elixir for the purposes of killing half-breeds.
In The Order: 1886, you are also friends with Nikola Tesla who invents most of the weapons and gadgets you use in the game such as the Arc Gun, Thermite Rifle, Monocular, and a couple of ways to pick a locked door, with a host of other typical guns such as assault rifles, shotguns, a grenade launcher, and more; however, it's worth noting that nothing is upgradable or can be enhanced.
The Arc Gun, an experimental tesla coil that shoots a focused stream of electricity, and the Thermite Rifle that shoots out flammable particles you can ignite and burn through enemies are some of the games best weapons; however, Dragoon Revolver is by far the best as it's merely a single kill hand cannon that makes encounters a lot easier to get through.
The Dragoon Revolver pairs nicely with the games Point Shooting mode, similar to Hitman: Absolution, where after your combat meter fills up, you can slow the game to a crawl and quickly shoot multiple targets at a time with your secondary gun. This can be a lifesaver in some of the games' more hard-hitting encounters.
Yet, gadgets like the Monocular and weapons like the crossbow are only used once in the game ever, which adds to the ever-expanding pile of missed opportunities in The Order: 1886.
The game features a few collectibles - if you want to call them that - such as phonograph cylinders, newspapers, photos, documents, and objects.
Phonograph cylinders are voice recordings, which is the only collectible you can track and play in the game from your in-game menu.
Other collectibles are newspapers, photos, documents, and objects where newspapers and some documents will detail what's happening in London. In contrast, most photos, documents, and objects are meaningless and don't add to the game or story.
Because of how linear The Order: 1886 is, collectibles are not hard to find and usually can be easily seen, typically if a character is going one way in an area, just go the opposite, plus there are little to no secret areas or passages you have to go through.
This honestly feels half-baked and doesn't add anything to the game whatsoever, but simply getting trophies to earn The Order: 1886's platinum eventually.
So, Where Are These Werewolves?
The werewolf design and seeing the transformation from human to werewolf is menacing, intimidating, fantastic, and can get a bit scary at first when they are running straight at you; however, there are about five instances where you are fighting these werewolves, and two of them are solely quick-time events. I found these encounters not to be challenging at all, playing on medium difficulty.
When I wanted to fight more werewolves, I only came across more humans, which made combat bland, uninspiring, and repetitive, with only a few changes in combat-style in limited scenes in certain chapters.
Ready At Dawn Studios was pushing that there would be grand fights against these half-breeds, and they simply did not deliver.
Even with that, there seems to be far more cinematics and walking around then actually gameplay making The Order: 1886 look like one big tech demo for the PS4.
When non-PlayStation gamers say PlayStation games are style over substance, this is what they mean.
Wrapping Things Up
It took me five hours to finish The Order: 1886 and an extra 19 minutes to earn the platinum, which is relatively easy to get if you keep an eye on the meaningless collectibles.
Typically the average time to play through a story such as this takes about 10 to 15 hours, but I'm going on a whim to say more time went into the graphics than anything else.
Another upside, though, is that The Order: 1886, features 16 chapters plus a prologue and an epilogue containing 76 scenes you can jump to from the main menu after playing through the entire game normally.
Ready At Dawn Studios hit this feature on the nail, as you can jump to any part of the game without starting the whole chapter over again, and go back and get collectibles you missed, as the game tracks what you have picked up, even though you can't see which ones you already have acquired.
Coming out of the gate, Ready At Dawn Studios made a first impressive attempt to a home console videogame system with The Order: 1886; however, graphics are not everything, especially when you have bland, predictive, and uninspiring gameplay with no substance. While I would like to see a sequel to The Order: 1886, especially after its cliffhanger ending, I am not counting on it, considering how much work the IP needs to pull in and resonate with gamers - maybe go the episodic videogame route, so there's more time to work on what's not working.
6/10 - Okay
The Order: 1886
Release date: February 20, 2015
Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Developed by: Ready At Dawn Studios
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment
Here's a bonus for you!
Check out this music video parody of The Order: 1886 but in 1986 by Corridor.
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