Developed by Ready at Dawn/Sony Santa Monica
Published by Sony Computer Entertainment
Reviewed by V1
You play as Sir Gallahad, member of a centuries old order of Knights (King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table). Kept alive by the magical blackwater, Sir Gallahad has fought against the half-breeds (werewolves) for centuries. Gallahad must fight alongside his fellow Knights in order to stop the half-breed attacks, as well as put a stop to a rebellion. Of course, nothing is as it seems & Gallahad is quickly drawn into a deep conspiracy & must get to the bottom of everything, for the sake of The Order & England.
The Order: 1886 is an enjoyable story. It’s not going to blow you away or play with your emotions like the last of us/the walking dead, but its writing & world building elevate the story well above the average action game nonsense. Your fellow knights are likeable & the Order itself is a fascinating concept. I’ve always loved the stories of King Arthur & his Knights of the Round Table & I found this version to be an excellent addition to the lore. London itself is also a fascinating setting. There are hints about Jack the Ripper, Charles Darwin & Nicholas Tesla to be found. How they worked their stories into the alternate history is very well done & adds genuine intrigue to the world they’ve built.
Unfortunately it’s not all roses. Ready at Dawn have filled the world full of letters, photographs, newspapers & audio files to flesh out the world. I love that they’ve taken the time to add these extras, but I hate the execution. For some reason they haven’t added an option to read these extras in a decent font. Having trouble reading the tiny writing? HA fuck you, we haven’t bothered adding normal text font (like in the last of us). Do you like listening to audio logs strewn about the game? How about if you can’t listen to them as you investigate, & instead must enter a menu screen & listen to it there. These design choices literally boggle my mind. How much work would it have been to copy Bioshock & let the audio files play during gameplay. As annoying as these complaints are, they’re mere annoyances & don’t ruin the experience.
Oh my God!!! 10/10 would bang!
Yep, this game is something else. It’s easily the best looking console game I’ve ever seen (sorry Ryse!) & may just be the greatest looking game on any platform. From start to finish there are so many little touches that made me stop playing & just gawk at the world. Gas lamps look amazing, puddles are incredible, cloth physics astound (just look at your jacket!) & facial animation is the best ever (although Lady Igraine can be a bit dodgy at times). The time & effort it took to make this world must be staggering.
It’s not only graphics that impress either. Voice work is also fantastic. Sir Gallahad, Perceval & Igraine are all impeccably voiced, as are the rest of the order (my favourite is Marquis, he’s awesome!) The soundtrack is excellent too, with some epic string & horn sections. The only bad thing I could say about the soundtrack is that it could be for anything. There’s nothing that feels specific to the order. So despite it being excellent, it’s somewhat generic.
Believe it or not, there actually are negatives to the Order’s presentation. First of all, what the fuck are big black, superwide bars doing on my screen during gameplay? Fine, if you want to make your cinematics look more cinematic (I refuse to use the word “filmic” as Ready at Dawn have. It’s fucking ridiculous!) then go ahead. But why would you want to make your game less gamey? Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but I get an awful sense of arrogance when I think of this decision. Also, the developers added a film grain over the entire game. Why would you want to make your game look worse, & why would you not give me an option to turn it off?…………… You don’t like what you like………
As I said earlier, Sony clearly wanted the Order to be their Gears of War killer. It looks better, has an intriguing world & characters, more likeable characters. Unfortunately the gameplay falls flat when compared to GoW. Basic gameplay is fine. Cover is functional, but lacking in options (you can only change cover from left to right. You can’t run forward into cover) & gunplay is simply average. The shooting is competent & has no major flaws, but it’s very basic & has no original mechanics at all (blacksite is like a mixture of bullet time & Dead Eye from Red Dead Redemption). The inclusion of Nicholas Teslas inventive weapons are some of the Order’s highlights. Some of these are really cool (thermite gun, detonator, arc rifle), but their use is decided by story & not player choice. There are times where you only get to use the guns for a few minutes before being forced to use a different gun.
There are a serous lack of set-pieces & boss battles (apart from 1 rocket turret section, some very basic stealth & two identical boss battles). One of the reasons Gears of War was so successful is because it had strong, varied gameplay experiences. Turret sections, vehicle sections, set-pieces with unique gameplay mechanics & memorable boss battles. Well…….. The Order doesn’t have any of these. There are long sections of game where all you can do is walk. There’s no running, shooting, cover or melee attacks. Your movement is restricted & all you can do is walk while the story is progressed. There are some collectibles to look for & the occasional QTE, but apart from these interaction is absolutely minimal. I wonder why they restricted gameplay so much here, as I felt it definitely hurt the experience.
Another aspect that hurt the experience is the decision to add pointless QTE sections to cutscenes. Normally cutscenes don’t bother me too much, but those in The Order were completely pointless & I felt like they were only added to make the game “more interactive”. This is another decision I felt took away from the overall experience. If your artistic vision is to make a story driven game….. then make a story driven game. Don’t shoehorn interactivity into it, it just waters everything down.
• Incredible graphics
• Enjoyable story, characters, setting.
• Interesting alternate history
• Cool weaponry
• Excellent voice acting
• Seriously, them graphics!!!
• Slow opening
• Game restricts control
• Lack of set pieces
• Repetitive boss battles
• No original game mechanics
• Lots of uninspiring QTEs
• Zero replay value
Overall: The Order: 1886 is a stunning looking game with a great setting, enjoyable story & memorable cast of characters. Unfortunately its gameplay can’t hold up the standard set by the presentation. Average shooting, lack of set pieces & poor boss battles prevent this game from being anything special. The Order is a game worth playing, but I’m not sure it’s worth owning (rent it or borrow it!) 6.5/10