Review: The Order: 1886

the-order-1886-cast-header
Initial release date: February 20, 2015
Developer: Ready at Dawn, SCE Santa Monica Studio
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (reviewed)
Publishers: Sony Computer Entertainment
Introduction
The Order: 1886 is a linear, generic third person shooter that fails to follow through with the narrative it builds over the course of its short campaign.  What it lacks in interesting gameplay it makes up for in the graphics and presentation department, but those factors ultimately do not save what is a mediocre experience.
The Order Defensive Shooting
Story/Narrative

The Order manages to sink a loose set of hooks into your attention but fails to capitalize on that pull and instead replaces the pent up curiosity with a lump of disappointment.  The interest in the story helps overcome weak gameplay elements, but its failure to deliver hurts the overall effect of the narrative

The player controls Sir Galahad, a knight of “The Order” in England.  The Order is based on Arthurian legend, hence multiple characters names referencing the mythical knights of the Round Table.  The Order also has access to some of the newest and coolest tech via a young Nikola Tesla.

How Tesla became involved with The Order, or indeed how the Order came to be is largely left vague.  There is some reference to ancient practices, with the requisite connection to the aforementioned Knights of Arthur, but these elements are more bones than flesh and at points leave events unexplained.  Why is the Order interested in stopping these rebels?  Why do the police forces assist them?  How do they recruit member?  I’m still at a loss and I was paying close attention.

The Order Rappel

The plot is driven by Galahad’s inquisitive pursuit of a greater conspiracy surrounding the rebels in England (again, tepid explanation as to the rebels motivation).  The rebel forces, composed of generic pistol wielding grunts, have joined with “half-breeds” which also appear as generic grunts until they change into werewolf creatures.  Why are there werewolves?  What causes them to turn?  The moon?  I have no idea.  Who are the rebels again?

Without spoiling anything, Galahad eventually uncovers some greater political elements occurring under The Order’s watch, and perhaps, at its guidance.  However, once the twist and climax occur, the game ends without much further explanation.  My girlfriend had been watching me play through from the beginning and was anticipating the conclusion.  Sadly, once the revelation is made the game leaves things on a cliffhanger, and never wraps up its other ends.

We were both awash in disappointed and severely lacking satisfaction.  Despite the dismal conclusion, sparse background explanation, and multiple instances of generic storytelling, the game does manage to build up interest in other ways.  The characters and environments are well constructed, and the game packs plenty of cut scenes to show off its gorgeous graphics.  Neither of these elements could overcome its gameplay faults.

Gameplay
The Order is a basic third-person shooter with some quick time event (QTE) elements.  And when I say “basic,” I mean that in the strictest interpretation.  The game sorely lacks any innovation or interesting mechanic to grab the player.  You enter a set piece, shoot some grunts with either a pistol, shotgun, or rifle (all of which are nearly identical) before moving along to the next set piece through some minor platforming and QTEs.
The Order Arcgun

The “platforming” elements are really excuses to implement dialogue and banter between the characters.  The typical set up is moving across a roof, jumping up to a higher roof, and then performing a QTE to zipline to another roof, or if you are lucky, a ledge or porch area.  Exciting stuff.

There are also stealth portions, which involve crouch walking around to sneak up on guards and take them out without being spotted.  The Order implements this system in a manner I really dislike:  You take out each guard, but as soon as you are spotted, you must restart the whole thing, loading screen and all.  Given the imprecision of when you are “sighted” it becomes frustrating to lose and have to restart when you aren’t sure just how you were spotted.  Trial and error create an unwelcome repetition here that was not enjoyable.

The Order Shooting GIF

As previously mentioned, the gun play and associated gun selection is weak at best.  There are pistols, shotguns, and rifles, with the key differences being the size of the clip and the rate of fire.  There are a couple unique guns such as an arc lightning gun and also a thermite gun.  The thermite gun shoots out a powder that is then ignited and explodes.  It’s a neat concept, but is hardly used and is generally harder to pull off then simply mowing down the nameless waves.

Quick time events are often a sore spot for some players, but I have never been too turned off by them.  However, The Order doesn’t really implement them in a satisfying way.  You use them for grappling and moving objects, which becomes more of a chore than neat interaction.  Despite this, during one particular boss battle, there is a unique QTE hybrid, where you must time the attacks, but also have some freedom of movement and ability to choose the proper attack.  Other than that small moment, the QTEs either got in the way, or were forgotten.

Ultimately the gameplay is an uninspired, linear monotony that leaves no impression.  Implementing some unique weapons with the Tesla angle, or utilizing the beautiful environments for shoot outs could have really helped bring some pizzazz to an otherwise bland experience.

Additional Factors
Unquestionably, the best part of The Order are the superb graphics and well built environments.  The detail in the alleyways and buildings is expertly crafted, and the accompanying explosions and executions are well done.  Mouth movements and expressions in cut scenes are of high quality, and water on the PS4 has never looked so good.
The Order Leader

The sound is also a strong point for the game, helping to further increase the impact of the characters, and complement the graphics.  The accents (English and otherwise) seem natural, and the environments buzz with gunshots, grenades, and snarls from the halfbreeds.

One big knock on the game at launch was the length.  It took me about 7-8 hours to complete the game, and I did not seek every collectible or audio tape.  There is zero replayability as you will feel hollow after seeing the “conclusion” and the game does not have multiplayer.

Conclusion
The Order presents a gorgeous environment in a unique setting, further strengthened by solid characters and impressive graphics.  While the story can enthrall for a time, the lack of explanation and lack of follow through in the conclusion leave a bitter taste after a short investment of less than 10 hours.  Grinding through waves of nameless grunts with equally uninteresting weapons does nothing to enhance the experience.  Buy this game on sale, play it, but do not expect a great exclusive that will shatter your expectations for shooters on nextgen.  Better yet, rent it from Redbox, beat it over the weekend, and save some cash.

The Good:

+Strong environments

+Interesting characters

+Amazing graphics

The Bad:

-Disappointing narrative

-Lack of explanation for story elements

-Uninspired gun play and narrow set pieces

-Slow movement speed in non combat portions

Total Score: 5.3/10
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19 thoughts on “Review: The Order: 1886

  1. Gosh, there’s so many games out there that I didn’t even know existed. It’s too bad it’s not that great of a game because it looks really cool! I appreciate realistic graphics and how old fashioned this is makes it so intriguing.

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  2. Since this was one of the early games for the PS4 I remember really looking forward to it. I have a fondness for medieval stories and so I was hooked when I heard Knights. Thankfully, a friend bought it before me and I was able to borrow it thus avoiding that feeling of even stronger disappointment when a game you paid money for does not live up to expectations. The story telling while it was an interesting premise lacked drive and depth and so by the end I ended up in agreement with you and everyone else. So glad I didn’t actually pre-order it.

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  3. Pingback: Monday Morning Procrastination Pack #4 – QTX

  4. I was really, really, interested in this game when all I saw was screenshots. It has a great art design, and the visuals are absolutely great. But actually seeing it in motion, watching it played, reading the reviews, I don’t know if I ever lost interest in a game faster. I don’t understand how they put so much thought and care into the visuals, but not anything else.

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  5. Sounds like a lot of wasted potential… The developers really should have invested more resources into developing the gameplay elements. The characters and environments do look interesting though, so I’ll probably snag a copy of this game if I ever see it in the discount bin. 10 hours surely won’t hurt my gaming backlog too much.

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  6. I have not played this game. The story sounds interesting and it seems like the developers are intending to expand on it in later games (such as explaining the rebel’s motivation and alliance with the “half-breeds and the origins of the Order in prequels). It seems strange the heroes are named after the Knights of Camelot, but the villains are not named after King Arthur’s enemies, otherwise it would seem like an Arthurian legend set in the Victorian times. Why does Nikola Tesla seem to feature in games? There are other famous scientists who do not appear, unless Tesla is chosen because he seems more mysterious. It seems strange for a game to use a Victorian setting, but just seem like a monotonous shooter, this would seem more fitting for a game set in modern times when guns are more prevalent and technologically sophisticated.
    Why do some parts of the game require stealth? Is it related to the story? Does the game expand on the Arthurian legend aspect other than the names of the heroes? How are quick-time elements used in succession against Bosses?

    Liked by 1 person

    • A lot of your questions remain to be answered and really show the weak points of the game. Why is Tesla involved? No idea. They definitely missed with the angle of having cool, tech forward guns for the time which is a major hit for a shooter. I like the idea that they should have gone with traditional Arthurian enemies. The game leaves open any reason really why the Arthurian influence is there, other than taking place in England

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  7. Oof. Every time I read about this game I just wonder who thought anything about it was a good idea. Seems like they really should have fleshed it out some more. Considering the lavish graphics, it couldn’t have been hurting for budget.

    I’ve seen the game on sale for as low as $10 and I occasionally think about buying it for the eye candy, but I never get around to it. At this point, I’m might just wait and see if it ever comes up in PS Plus.

    Liked by 2 people

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