The Order 1886
Developed by Ready at Dawn
Reviewed on the Playstation 4
Before this game was released it seemed as though this game was doomed to fail, an early Youtube play-through clocked the game at around five hours. five hours is short by any ones standards, but even with this news I was still very excited to play through this game. It was announced way back at the same time the PS4 itself was announced and there was something about it that had me intrigued. I think it was the alternate history Victorian London setting, being English and having visited my capital several times I am always drawn to games that have me exploring the same streets.
The Order 1886 has you playing the role of Sir Galahad, a legendary Knight of the round table who through the use of the not fully explained ‘Blackwater’ has unnaturally long life and the ability to heal himself of most wounds. The Order answer to no one, not even the Queen. They are fighting against supernatural half breeds or Werewolves as most people will know them. The steam punk influenced setting is a nice take and allows the use of more conventional weapons you would see in a 3rd person cover shooter, but does feel like a bit of an opportunity lost to really make something different, after all do we really still need the standard weapons?
The stand out selling point of this game, and an aspect that every game is initially judged on, are the visuals, and The Order has possibly the best visuals I have ever seen on a console. It looks stunning. Actual gameplay at times looking better than the many cut scenes, the transitions between are seamless and sometimes too smooth as I stood like a lemon not realising I was back in control of Sir Galahad. The world is beautifully made and runs so smooth I noticed no frame drops or rough textures, every little detail on the screen looks superb and there is even a small amount of grain over the image to enhance the cinematic feel of the game. Some people may not like the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen, but they serve two purposes in aiding the cinematic feel and helping the game look so incredible as there is effectively less screen to fill. Visually Ready at Dawn have creating a world that is as close to perfection as I have seen so far on a console and that deserves high praise.
Visuals alone do not make a great game though, the gameplay has to be good and I have to say that I really enjoyed the cover gun play of the game, it felt great and whilst it is nothing revolutionary it is executed well with the enemy AI showing no glaring problems. Whilst most of the time you will use standard firearms, every now and again you get set loose with some ‘new’ guns such as the brilliant electric powered ARC rifle and the explosive Thermite Rifle, sadly though you don’t get to play with these enough. There are a few stealth areas and these feel fairly good to experience, but that is pretty much where the variety ends and sadly you don’t get enough time to really play with what there is. Many games have the problem of stopping a game becoming stale or boring, the Order has a different problem, and it leaves you frustrated that there just isn’t enough of it to really get into it.
Probably the most known aspect of this game in the run up to the release was the length of this game, it isn’t long. It took me around 7 hours to complete, I would normally say that this is long enough for a narrative driven game but the Order relies heavily on cut scenes to progress the story. Most of these cut scenes are interesting and extremely well voice acted but for some bizarre reason they are un-skippable, even on a second play through, I hope this is something that can be changed with a patch as it really puts me off another play through. Some cut scenes do have quick time events in them, which is both good and bad. I don’t mind these as much as some people as they can keep you engaged but I do hate that every now and again there is one in the middle of a fairly lengthy cut scene with no warning and if I am not paying attention to press the button quick enough I die, which then means having to start again at the beginning of the same un-skippable cut scene.
The quick time events are also used for the boss battles in this game, I thought they were implemented fairly well and still felt like they gave the player some freedom in how they can tackle the boss, but sadly the boss battles are exactly the same. Doing it the first time was quite fun but the second time round it felt rushed or at worst just lazy from the developers.
The Order feels like the first instalment in a series of games and whilst I felt a little let down in the final game, I feel there is a massive amount of potential for Ready at Dawn to make a sequel that far surpasses this release. After all, the hard work of creating the engine and setting the story has been done which should free up a lot more time that can be spent on developing new gameplay elements and increasing what already works well. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the game and I feel this may be part of the problem, there was too much hype and just because it doesn’t live up to the hype it doesn’t mean it is a bad game.
The Order 1886 has the elements of a really good game and is fully worth a play through, perhaps not at full price as there is no replay value in an already fairly short game. It has many problems but the actual gameplay itself is really fun. I hope that Ready at Dawn do get to make a sequel that irons out the problems of this first release as this is far from a bad game to play, it left me wanting more, a bad game doesn’t even make me want to get to the end.