Personally, I’ve never experienced a video game that has decided to masquerade itself as a film noir biopic from some form of financial depression rather than a competitive title to suit all gamers. The Order 1886 by developers ‘Ready at Dawn’ ignited their initial advertisements with the slogan ‘Discover history’s darkest secret’ which you have to admit, has a nice to ring to it. Little did we know that the aforementioned secret, was in fact an inability to supply any form of empathy or substance to what can only be described as a very disappointing six hours of your gaming career.
Set in the gloomy streets of 19th century London, you follow the trials and tribulations of Galahad, the leader of the Queens elite operatives known the The Order, designated to protect the world from the influx of monsters and other supernaturally based enemies. Using a very similar camera angle and game mechanic to Gears of War, The Order 1886 combines a mixture of funky gadgets and futuristic (for the time) weapons handed down by some of the most prestigious inventors in our history. This setting implies a promising combat prospect which cannot be found in many titles of the genre, you would think The Order 1886 has created something truly unique with the potential for a strong narrative. Although the idea is promising, Ready at Dawn didn’t come through.
The Order 1886 at this point can only be described as an impressive technical demo, showing off the power the PS4 has at its disposal
Most of the game’s non-confrontational moments are portrayed through quick time events, rarely preparing you for what is coming. Seeing as most of the cut scenes were bordering on dull, the idea of pressing or tapping the button profusely didn’t generate excitement or the desired intensity. In fact, I think I spent the first 3 hours tutting and rolling my eyes. The Order 1886 was developed as a movie like experience, combining superior graphics and cinematic techniques, neglecting a lot of gameplay. In my eyes, that is the epitome of a ‘niche’ viewpoint. A very risky move, unless you are targeting a particular audience, one that is very rare inside the PS4 gaming world it appears. The Order at this point can only be described as an impressive technical demo, showing off the power the PS4 has at its disposal.
The graphics really impressed me and probably some of the best to be released yet. The rare periods of player movement are smooth and effortless, while the facial recognition and body movements of your allies and enemies seem incredibly life like. Similarly the environment are smothered in realistic colours and layouts, emphasised by dark and dingy basements and shadowy streets.. It seems Ready at Dawn focussed an extreme amount of effort on the aesthetics, however throwing all your eggs in one basket doesn’t always give you the best results.
Combat and shooting can be described in one word. Patronising
The environments are incredibly linear, which doesn’t necessarily mean it is a negative point. You can have a totally linear experience but the depth needs to be put into the story and varied objectives, combine this with effective gameplay given a light dusting of deception and the gameplay doesn’t come across as linear. The Order 1886 is lacking in these areas. The characters portrayed are incredibly bleak. You feel no connection towards them, backgrounds and relevance to their attendance in the game is completely lacking and most of them seem to hate their lives. Killing fantasy beasts and shooting stuff in a cool suit is meant to be fun isn’t it? Smile for god’s sake. It also doesn’t help that you only get around 6-7 hours of gameplay to connect with them all.
Within each part of the map however, there are various collectibles and bonuses for you to find, which enables you to turn them around in Galahad’s hand and inspect them thoroughly, discovering a fact or two in the process. This, I liked. Collectibles in other titles neglect to include any relevance usually, requiring the player to dig deep within the menus to read a brief summary of what they’ve found. Admit it, you don’t look either guys. But The Order slightly rams them down your throat, and demands you take a closer look to ensure you take them and their origin in fully.
One of the impressive things I found however were the guns, and what is known as ‘Black sight’
Combat and shooting in The Order 1886 can be described in one word. Patronising. Whenever it is time to floor those rebels or villains, you are placed into a small arena surrounded by cover and shelter leaving no space for lateral movement or tactics. It’s simply duck and cover, waiting for the naïve enemy to poke his head out of cover for what seems like a solid five minutes, giving you an array of chances to pop him down in any which way you desire. There isn’t a large variety of enemies either. One of them is able to throw you out of your position and demolish your cover, but that’s it. The rest remain completely identical in what they do, and what threat they possess. You enter the room from the left, the enemies come from the right, you know the deal guys. If you enjoy imposing your own ideas or improvisations on how to destroy your targets, I wouldn’t look here. Imagination is near to non-existent.
One of the impressive things I found however in The Order 1886 was the guns, and what is known as ‘Black sight’. The weapons vary from scientific weapons that are quite ‘new age’, mixing elements and inventive ideas, to the basic favourites, like a powerful pistol, long zooming sniper rifles and beasty grenade launchers. These are fun to use at times, but really come to life during black sight. Very similar to when you breach a wall in a call of duty, or at a vital end of an adventure, some sections turn into slow motion, where you are able to dispatch multiple bullets in what seems like a ‘Matrix’ mode. Very fun indeed.
The Order 1886 quite annoyed me in all honesty. I watched constant videos and sneak peeks through the months before its release in awe, convinced that PS4 have finally made a title grand enough to compete against some of the elites on other consoles. But like I say at the beginning, it’s nothing short of a complete disappointment full of mediocrity. The potential was there, yet neglected and left to focus on other departments. The graphics and weapons gave The Order 1886 a small chance of success, but with the combination of bland gameplay, irrelevant characters, snore fest story, constant cinematic breaks and a game length shorter than Golden Axe, I couldn’t bare it any longer. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep at some point, what a shame.